Fri, 23/03/2018 - 06:00
A Niche within a Niche
CBRE Façade Consultancy is thriving as a unique and industry leading service provider under the guidance of an equally prominent market heavyweight; subsequently adhering itself to numerous high profile projects, both in the UK and abroad
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Tom Cullum
As a globally-renowned real estate company comprising more than 75,000 employees around the world, it would seem that, on the face of it, CBRE has cemented its position among the industry elite; but for a multi-disciplined specialist that places continuous improvement at the heart of its structure, the job is never done.
CBRE Façade Consultancy is one of several specialist service lines operating within the UK building consultancy, headed by EMEA Executive, David Hitchcock, and it comprises a turnkey offering that entails aspects of environmental consultancy, mechanical and electrical services, vertical transportation, geomatics and 3D, and planning.
“CBRE is the only real estate consultancy to have its own in-house but independent Façade Consultancy. This provides a ‘one-stop’ service wherein all other services are fully-integrated; the client being the ultimate winner,” introduces Facade Consultancy Director, Diego Alves. “Overall, the Company provides comprehensive valuation, advisory and consulting services for real estate owners, investors and lenders, combining specialised expertise and premier technologies to deliver industry-leading advice.
“We offer our clients unique perspectives and access to the largest valuation database and the most valuable proprietary data in the industry. This is done with one key objective in mind: enabling our clients to make confident, informed business decisions.”
CBRE Ltd is among Fortune’s list of the top 500 largest US-based public companies, but closer to home in EMEA, a host of value-add offerings help to add further strings to the company bow. These include advisory and transaction services, capital markets, industrial and logistics, sustainability, asset services and Alves’ aforementioned niche, Facade Consultancy.
“In the UK we have further specialisms including valuation and advisory services, global workplace solutions and investment properties,” he continues. “And ultimately, across these parameters, the aspiration of the Company is to be a market leader, globally, and particularly in regard to the quality and breadth of commercial and technical advice we provide to our clients.
“This has made clients very successful in their individual endeavours and we expect that that trust will continue unabated in the years to come. I have no doubt that in the following years, that goal will be achieved and hopefully surpassed.”
Quality and professionalism
CBRE Ltd as it is known today is a business heavyweight and a renowned name in industry circles, but its road to prominence can be traced back as far as 200 years ago, initially as Richard Ellis before being incorporated by US company, Coldwell Banker to become CB Richard Ellis.
Later transforming into today’s guise, the journey has been remarkable and CBRE now stands as a truly global entity with façade consultancy services that emanate from as far afield as Mumbai, Johannesburg, and numerous European hubs.
“This can change day-to-day as well, depending on the source of enquiry,” Alves notes. “The Façade Consultancy services clients within CBRE but also those who approach us directly, appreciating our wide range of technical and commercial experience and knowledge base.
“We therefore, regularly, cover portfolio work across EMEA and one of our strengths is the quick response and turnaround of such instructions, whether they require actual on-site presence or information review.”
The ability to act flexibly and quickly as an autonomous strand of a giant organisation has proved to be a key advantage for each CBRE subsidiary, and especially for its Façade Consultancy division. And it has also facilitated concerted diversification of service lines as a consequence.
“We have evolved to respond to client-driven requests for façade-related services including health & safety aspects, and one example has seen CBRE implement overhead glazing inspections as standard in own-managed properties, but also as a standalone independent service for external clients,” Alves explains. “Other new skills are related to project management or heritage to name a few, which complement core services which include expert witness in legal cases, to preparation of planned preventive maintenance inspections, and schedules to façade reports for acquisition or disposal of properties.
“Across the board we have embraced and responded to each client’s demands.”
A more poignant recent instance has followed on from the tragic Grenfell House Fire in London, whereby CBRE has subsequently responded to Government’s and property owners’ calls for assistance in finding more appropriate solutions to safeguard against fire risks; a notion that showcases CBRE’s reputation in the market and region, and its expertise across critical domains.
Alves adds: “CBRE is heavily involved with a considerable number of high profile clients and their properties, particularly with our involvement in acquisitions or disposal of prime real estate in EMEA. We have been involved in some of the largest transactions in the UK, including the largest London property transaction in UK history.
“The quality and professionalism of all our service lines is compounded by our vast experience and expert knowledge of the real estate industry.”
The façade team has worked on and monitored a variety of iconic properties both in London and abroad across design and construction operations; offering advice and consultancy expertise on design issues, long-term performance, cost effectiveness, general efficiencies and legal expert witness.
And Alves sheds light on why such a seemingly staple contributor carries so much importance: “A quality façade represents about 20-35 percent of the capital cost of a project. The increased complexity and architectural articulation of the façade imposes a huge burden in the design, specification and delivery of a façade, so that it will provide the performance characteristics demanded of it.
“At CBRE we go beyond these stages and also advise clients on the façade performance during its service life or upgrade/replacement options.”
Facilitating such scope in a complex space is a series of internal improvements courtesy of the wider CBRE group, including a host of year-on-year technological advancements, software improvements - including e-filing - and cloud platforms to ensure the Company’s internal infrastructure can keep ahead of the business’s own extensive growth.
A niche within a niche
Perhaps understandably though, the key internal asset is attributed as the Company’s workforce and driving HR team which ensures the success of optimum hiring, training and retention strategies.
Alves enthuses: “CBRE has many longstanding employees because the Company has created an excellent working environment, focusing on proactive management style, extramural activities and diversity. It is part of CBRE’s CSR policy to actively engage employees in activities with a social aspect.
“This has been a very successful approach, demonstrated by our three-year partnership programme with Shelter, a UK charity, where we have raised more than £1M.”
Alves goes on to note that the unique skill-sets and the diverse, multilingual make-up of the staff compliment is what keeps CBRE in an enviable market position, as it facilitates being able to cover the full spectrum of client requirements, industry demographics and geographic regions.
“The Façade Consultancy team at CBRE has a real advantage in that we are the only real estate advisors to provide such a range and quality of services,” he concludes. “It is said that façade engineering is a niche profession and this may be true.
“However the Façade Consultancy team at CBRE is a niche within a niche: we are façade experts in the real estate industry, thus offering clients a completely different approach to their asset or investment opportunity.”