Invest Early in Health by Design to Save Money

Designing for health in the earliest project stages can help reduce costs downstream. Invest resources early to consider the effects of Health by Design in whole lifecycle costing. This approach, considering the human factors implications of employee health at each stage of the project or product lifecycle, should ensure that costs are outweighed by the benefits.

It is much easier and more cost efficient to make changes to designs in the earliest stages, through modelling and on paper, than it is to change them once manufacture or construction has started. In construction, building information modelling (BIM) is a 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the capability to plan and design buildings more efficiently. This includes health design decisions. In 2018 it was revealed that using BIM effectively could significantly reduce lifecycle costs of projects in the UK. When the Department of Health and Social Care refurbished 39 Victoria Street in London, for example, it was calculated that BIM-enabled savings accounted for £676,907. Of this, £42,366 was in design, £141,872 in construction and an expected £492,669 in operation over 12 years.

The benefit of early investment should not only be viewed in terms of financial expenditure, but also in terms of the additional time and resource brought in at the early stages. Not only are later design changes more costly, but the opportunity to make those changes also diminishes. Therefore, the timing of this intervention is critical to the long-term success of the final solution.

The image below depicts that the feasibility stage is the optimum time to positively reduce the life cycle and project costs. This opportunity diminishes as the solution moves through the lifecycle. Further reading on this diagram and the lifecycle costing approach can be found here.

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