Value engineering is a systematic method of improving facility planning. The process results in lower design costs and better construction sequencing of a project – while decreasing the overall expense. The value engineering concept tends to keep in place those functions which expedite and optimize the planning, design, and construction of facility projects, while removing unnecessary expenditures. This process is often used to keep projects from running over budget without sacrificing the integrity of the entire design/construction process.
Often, government projects demand that a value-engineered workflow is followed – bringing to the table a multitude of ideas aimed at reducing construction and life-cycle cost of structures while maintaining the required building performance. The process entails presenting questions in all phases of planning, design, and construction – and obtaining answers based on the following project criteria:
- what alternate methods, materials, or processes can perform the same desired function
- evaluating best practices versus reasonable cost to arrive at acceptable substitutions
- comparison of design solutions to determine which answer will perform adequately
- expanding design efforts for those areas where performance or impact is critical
Value engineering answers both how? and why? Simultaneously during all phases of new construction. The concept is not simply focused on cost reduction, it also embraces the value that a systematic, team approach can add to projects. Keeping a close handle on the economics of design and construction, should not limit innovation or quality. Construction economies can be found in many places – such as coordinated labor scheduling or advanced bill of materials solutions.
When value-conscious design decisions are made, an evaluation and comparison of potential solutions are analyzed. When a cost-effective alternative is obtained which satisfies the owner’s requirements, it becomes the chosen solution. The end result is a regulation of costs, without sacrifice to function.
Answering the Challenges of Facilities Planning
The facilities planning stage, when looked at from a value-engineered framework, has less to do with spatial function and layout – and more to do with built-in life cycle performance and facility maintenance reduction, along with acceptable occupant flow. Aligning planning strategies with business strategies requires looking at alternate design and construction methods along with substitute materials which support the vision of all project stakeholders. Urban planning and mixed-used construction are areas where the keen use of space and tight budgets can benefit from value engineering.
Often, the answer lies in working with an outsourced engineering service which can provide fast turn around of multiple conceptual designs for layout comparison, adding value to the planning process. Mass modeling to determine the best site orientation to gain the energy advantages of both shading and sunlight is just one example. The efficiency of using 3D conceptual modeling to quickly visualize and compare alternative structural designs is a critical function within the value-engineering framework.
Applying Value Engineering in the Design Phase
When designing projects with ‘built-in value’, the engineering and design phases offer the greatest opportunity for productivity gains and cost savings. With the use of intelligence-based, computer-aided design (CAD) technology, critical design information is included as part of the graphics layout. This provides for engineering analysis procedures which can mathematical obtain values which support the most economical, yet structurally-sound options.
Tekla Structures is one example of design/drafting software which supports three functions of structural engineering – modeling, detailing, and fabrication or shop drawing generation. With the included power of an information-rich database, evaluation and analysis of cost-efficient solutions is built into each model. A key benefit of a 3D model built with Tekla, is the efficient translation of dimensional information straight to CNC machining processes