The aim of the Whole of Life approach during the any phase of the project continuum, as it develops across the Project Planning, Design and Construction Phases, is to achieve a functional asset, with minimal Whole of Life costs. This is done by identifying alternative options to what is otherwise known as business as usual (BAU) and analysing the Whole of Life costs of those options.
The Whole of Life approach is not something that can be added at the end of the design, (or post procurement if construction phase) of a project. The approach must be integrated within the project methodology to be used as a decision making tool to determine the design options that offer the best value over the life of the asset.
The Whole of Life approach is generally a relatively new concept for most project teams. The challenge is to educate the project design and/ or construction teams to recognise the Whole of Life costs associated with the development and to encourage the team to come up with innovative and practical options to manage these costs whilst considering environmentally or socially sustainable implications.
The Whole of Life assessment comprises the facilitation of decisions across the various project disciplines, and the subsequent compilation of documentation that captures the decisions made during the period of assessment.
Whole of Life Approach
The whole of life approach typically considers all aspects of the use, operation, maintenance and disposal of an asset from concept development, design and construction, through to infrastructure redundancy and demolition. Whole of life costs incorporate the total of all costs that arise out of, or in connection with works over the entire life of the asset. This approach seeks to balance upfront capital costs with, amongst other aspects, the:
- Useful life: expected period of time during which depreciating asset will be productive (not warranty period)
- Capital costs: one‐off upfront costs to purchase install or construct asset
- Operational costs: arise out of the day‐to‐day running of the asset (i.e. water and energy consumption)
- Maintenance costs: arise from ensuring asset is continuously available (shown as recurring capital costs), and
- Replacement and disposal costs: arise from replacement of asset or components through life and
- Decommissioning and disposal costs
The process of considering Whole of Life impacts is a way of delivering additional value by capturing innovation in design and delivering long-term cost savings. Typically, boundaries apply to the assessment, and can include:
- Gate to Gate (not Cradle to Grave)
- Assessed alternatives must meet basic project requirements (Relevant design standards, Building Codes and Australian Standards etc)
- A finite level of assessment (for example examining the aspects of most impact through application of the 80/20 rule), and
- The process must add value without elevating planning and construction costs unnecessarily