KPIs @ Urban Mill on June 6th, 2013 – Traditional Measurements Questioned

The Future Learning Environments Indoor environment consortium had a meeting in Urban Cave. The meeting was facilitated by Boost Brothers and the key talk was given by Olli Niemi from Suomen Yliopistokiinteistöt. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in built environment were on the agenda and the group consisted of 16 persons ranging from practitioners in built environment, pedagogy, electronics, sociology and management to researchers representing the same fields from all over Finland. As one can imagine, this range of people from different backgrounds made a vivid discussion about soft and hard values and KPIs in the built environment.

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One of the biggest issues identified was that usually the driver and motivator for the operators in the built environment are hard, measurable KPIs, the biggest priority of which is definitely money. On the other hand, that is what businesses do – they need to earn money, that is their acid test. But if one spends money in wrong things and saves in crucial things, the actual added value to the action taken inside, which the environment should support, can be very low. The industry seems very engineer-driven and we seem to manage buildings, not the actions taken inside.

However, the buildings themselves offer only the shell – the action and the people inside is what really needs to be supported and the community is what should be facilitated with help of the designed spaces and places. Buildings by themselves are not of any value for the people if no actions are taken in them. In that case they are just wasted landuse. Yet, at the same time, risks need to be taken care of and the technical conditions have to be maintained well now and in the future which makes measuring difficult.

Urban Mill, indeed, was a great place for this activity as it is a testbed and a forerunner in questioning the traditional measurements and highlighting the soft service side of the business. It ain’t no LEED certified building and it might be a bit rough, cold and dusty in there at times but on the other hand the spaces reflect the research and processes and bring people together from the field of Urban Innovation, both the industry and the research. It will be interesting to see what kind of results Urban Mill will provide us during the years to come. We work on quite a dusty business anyway.

Eelis Rytkönen

Campus dude, BES research group

eelis.rytkonen@aalto.fi, 0405502477

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