Government Soft Landings have a key role in performance-led infrastructure

performance-led infrastructure

David Philp, impact director at the Construction Innovation Hub, examines how Government Soft Landings can aid in transforming performance-led infrastructure to answer the problems of tomorrow, today

Creating a high-performing, low-carbon built infrastructure that will truly benefit society has never been so important. And, at the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub), our transformative programme aims are to create better outcomes for current and future generations by driving the adoption of manufacturing, value, assurance and digital approaches that improve the delivery, resilience and performance of built infrastructure both retained and new.

The COP26 summit in Glasgow reminded us of the role that our built infrastructure can play in achieving climate resilience. At the official signing ceremony for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)’s High-Performance Buildings Initiative hosted by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), we heard it reinforced that we need a clear line of sight between our construction investments and the outcomes they produce. Government Soft Landings (GSL) is a vital way of helping us achieve this goal and ensure that interventions in our built environment will deliver the right outcomes for both society and the natural environment.

GSL has now been with us for more than a decade. In 2011, a Cabinet Office facility management team led the development of a “soft landings” policy for the Government Construction Strategy (GCS). This initial work identified the need to bridge the operational chasm by aligning design and construction with operational asset management and making greater use of outcome-based specifications against clear performance criteria.

The government’s rationale behind GSL was for built assets to deliver on their intended purpose; something which can often be lost in the construction process. Structured information exchanges through Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digitally enabled analysis were seen as vital to achieving this.

This original GSL objective continues to be supported by the government today.

Dr David Hancock, construction director, Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA), Cabinet Office notes that “GSL reminds us that we design and construct to aid the performance of our facilities. This creates the best possible opportunity for outcomes to be delivered. By setting and monitoring performance targets we can ensure that the facilities are productive and deliver value for money for the taxpayer. A framework upon which to build an appropriate pathway to support their operational objectives”.

The IPA’s recent Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP): Roadmap to 2030 looks to the future of GSL over two time horizons:

0-2 Years

Implementation of GSLs and continued focus on targeting high-performing built assets to help realise better public sector value from the construction process. The IPA will work with government departments and the Construction Innovation Hub to develop tools and guidance to enable objectives that will inform the purpose of the asset in operation to be set and tested from the outset.

2-5 Years

Informing future project performance setting based upon post-occupancy evaluation and structured feedback loops.

The action plan shows the government’s commitment to the GSL concept and how it can support decision making, especially within a complex system of systems extending beyond a single project or portfolio.

Essentially, GSL lets us test and rehearse the operational stage of an asset from early on in the lifecycle. Advancement in digital technologies, collaboration and data science are helping clients and their stakeholders try before they commit to an investment. From virtual reality to data analytics, we can better test the potential impact of an investment intervention and within the context of resilience-led infrastructure delivery. Additionally, in the move towards digitally twinning, we will create better near-real time performance and condition feedback loops to inform demand-driven investment planning.

At the Hub, we are collaborating closely with industry, government and academia to support this transformation, not just by promoting digital ways of working but also by making sure that we are demonstrating the very real benefits of digital transformation and providing the guidance and tools needed to help the sector adapt and thrive. We have been supporting industry as well as client bodies, from NHS Scotland to the Ministry of Justice, in the rollout of GSL with guidance documentation and interactive navigators to help build capability and align with the UK BIM Framework.

We have defined operational energy and carbon dioxide emissions information exchanges for Government Soft Landings (GSL) and other Soft Landings projects. This guidance can be used together with the Hub’s GSL frameworks and forms part of a suite of digital tools that provide invaluable and extensive insights into how buildings and infrastructure are currently functioning in driving efficiency, as well as helping to deliver the wider net zero carbon agenda.

We have also recently published a guide to applying GSL in a local authority context.

The Hub is now focusing on tools that will help better support energy-based modelling as part of the GSL process, which will be published in spring of this year.

Explore our full range of GSL guidance and tools at


performance-led infrastructure

David Philp

Impact director

Construction Innovation Hub





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