With constant changes in technology and student demands for high spec buildings, it is vital that universities create buildings that are future proofed. For existing buildings, we are able to create retrofitted BIM models, which demonstrate how assets can be refurbished to achieve the optimum outcomes, within budget. Digital technologies such as BIM and virtual reality also enable estates teams, academics and end users to experience buildings before they are built or refurbished, ensuring that spaces are fit for purpose. In addition, as BAM’s services span the entire life cycle of an asset, we are able to involve our FM and sustainability specialists at the outset of a project. They provide vital insights into the lifetime operational and environmental impacts of each proposed solution and allow estates teams to choose the best solutions for them based on the predicted future costs, maintenance requirements and environmental performance. At the CONNECT110NS development in Glasgow, we were even able to use this data to predict occupiers’ energy bills and service charges.
Although, Brexit and the proposed student fee review could mean a reduction in income for universities across the UK, this should not be a barrier to estates development. Venture Capitalists and Pension funds are increasingly interested in investing in high quality university assets and those which are able to demonstrate predicted high performance levels (as discussed above) will prove very attractive. BAM PPP also offers a number of funding solutions to improve existing facilities and construct new buildings, which are already being implemented on student accommodation schemes in the UK.
Despite the challenges facing the UK’s universities, I believe there are number of opportunities for Estates Directors to improve efficiency, while increasing building quality. As a business, BAM is able to support universities to realise these goals, via our integrated lifecycle approach and our adoption of the latest digital technologies and financing models. Most importantly, we see ourselves as a long- term partner, committed to helping our clients to deliver the best outcomes across their campuses today and into the future.