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Latest cost guide highlights key themes in the built environment

Home Infrastructure Latest cost guide highlights key themes in the built environment

GLOBAL infrastructure consulting firm Aecom is launching the 34th edition of its highly anticipated and well-respected Africa Cost Guide: Property & Construction 2023/24. “It is something we are very proud of indeed. The industry at large anticipates the release of this document every year,” comments Herman Berry (pictured), director, programme cost consultancy (PCC), Africa.

Described as an institutional tool for the broader built environment, the guide is endorsed and disseminated by key associations such as the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS). “At Aecom, we are dedicated to delivering excellence and continuously look to enhance this valuable tool,” says Berry.

In his foreword to the guide, Berry highlights that the South African economy has encountered various disruptions on both global and local fronts. To counter such uncertainty and volatility, Aecom’s ‘Think and Act Globally’ strategy sets a high standard of excellence in the professional services industry.

The strategy is focused on extending the company’s industry-leading expertise to each of its global projects, transforming the way it delivers work through technology and digital platforms, and enhancing its position as a leading environment, social and governance (ESG) company.

In terms of trends highlighted by the latest guide, there is a major discussion in the industry at the moment concerning the role of building information management (BIM), reveals Yvonne Bosch, associate QS at Aecom.

“The main issue is how we integrate different parts of the construction programme into one global system. Aecom prides itself in being able to deliver and work in this new integrated, multidisciplinary fashion driven by rapid advances in technology,” says Bosch.

Another strong theme in the guide is the growing importance of ESG goals in the industry. Sustainalytics, a provider of ESG research, ratings and data, has ranked Aecom 12 out of 307 in the industry group for construction and engineering in terms of ESG.

Last year saw Estia Cronje appointed as PCC technical director for Aecom’s Centurion head office, servicing the Gauteng region. “Aecom has been proactive to address any potential challenges in the broader industry. Our track record of delivering complex projects is a testament to our ability to manage change effectively. I believe this will be the same moving forward,” says Cronje.

Commenting on the ongoing transformation of the PCC team, Berry says: “Being part of a large organisation with depth and having experienced people who can step up and have been with the business for a long period makes these transitions much easier.”

One sector that has struggled since the Covid-19 pandemic has been the commercial office sector. However, the focus of the PCC team in the commercial space has changed from large new office buildings to delivering cost consulting services tailored to a rapidly changing tenant environment.

“There has been such a large number of tenant movements over the last year-and-a-half since the working from home phenomenon began due to the pandemic, specifically in the commercial office market. Even though there is not much growth in that market, there is still an appetite for the type of services that we deliver,” says Berry.

A change in the industry that Berry is advocating for is a bigger role for the QS to play in the public sector. He points out that the QS is typically excluded from any bids or opportunities in public civil infrastructure investment.

“The engineer is typically responsible for the design, procurement, contract administration and cost management components of civil infrastructure projects. We believe that the QS can contribute more to project rollout and procurement, for example. That is definitely going to be a focus area for Aecom. Moving forward, we are looking at an integrated multidisciplinary service where the cost management aspect supports our engineering offering. Such a development bodes well, specifically on the back of the larger infrastructure projects on our books and in the pipeline,” says Berry.

“There is a core need for the QS society to play a larger role in infrastructure investment and development in South Africa,” says Berry.

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