Whole System Thinking

Changing the world is difficult, to change custom and practice is one tiny step on the journey.  One of the primary reasons for poor building performance happens early in the design process and often before the engineers are consulted.

The Old Way
At the earliest stages of the process, at the critical juncture whilst conceptual ideas are still being formulated, a proposed scheme is presented sold to the owner or developer, before the engineers have any say. Unfortunately, once that scheme has received the official blessing, the fate of the of the buildings operating costs is virtually sealed.

Change is good but not in building development,  the designer and team had already lived with the plan for a few weeks, they are invested in it success.  Any subsequent “change” that could potentially undo that work, and perhaps might require the designer to modify the the layout or the facade is typically rejected. The designer moves on, there is a firm scheme, then other consultants are summoned to join his project team. It does not happen in every case, but that is a fairly typical MO.

Another Way
There is another way, a more productive way WST (Whole System Thinking) is an integrated approach to engineering design that challenges past assumptions made everyday. If evidence is needed here is a link to a cost Summary Sheet (1 page PDF format) incidentally is protected document, the password is kelcroft.

Using the WST principal this heat rejection solution provides the same capacity with less CAPex investment, and provides a lower OPex for the lifetime of the equipment. Yes, it did require more engineering effort than the typical methodology, because the system needed to be properly designed. The WST approach exceeds incremental 2-3% savings, delivering more than 30% reduction in first cost compared to the typical design.

If concepts designs are locked down early, the opportunity for WST is lost along with the chance of lower operating costs and reduced carbon consumption.

Putting this in to a future context, it has been estimated that urbanisaton will continue to expand in China increasing the number of city dwellers upto 0.9 billion in 2025, building sustainably is the only solution.

John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft