Continuing our blog post series by Douglas Bartlett, Manager Asset Planning, City of Kalamunda. Here he looks at how we might define and use the word ‘Adaptability’. Again, Doug welcomes your thoughts and alternatives.
‘sustainable’ but ‘adaptable’?
Sustainability is an undefined concept, but so is Adaptability. How do we describe what an adaptable asset is? Adaptability suggests that the service being provided by the assets will need to change
But are adaptable assets expected to last forever? Perhaps not at the component level but, through adaptability in the design, ensure the network or higher order asset will last forever? Roman roads in Italy are still being used today but in a current form different to their original form. It is difficult to think of examples of buildings (or other infrastructure) that have lasted a very long time, because the original designs would not have incorporated adaptability concepts. Those buildings that have lasted centuries or one to two thousand years have continued to be used for the same purpose as originally constructed (or converted to a tourist attraction which essentially involves keeping them unchanged).
Adaptability could be designed for reduced resource consumption, or perhaps greater resource consumption as an accepted offset for the higher level of adaptability (air conditioning in a larger room for example which enables the room to have more uses, but which increases overall energy load).
Perhaps the solution is not to change the word from sustainability to adaptability, but to instead drive greater levels of adaptability in the design and management of assets. This can be done by expanding what sustainable means with a fourth element. Sustainability for asset management means for a defined time period and service level:
1 The asset will last (provide its full function) for the time period
2 The service provided by the asset will last for the same defined time period (the service may be subject to change but this is not limited by the asset)
3 The asset and service will require no expenditure of resources beyond what is defined in the service (noting that resource consumption efficiency should be defined in the service), and
4 The asset is designed to be adaptable to a wider range of services, and also to the changing service needs over time.