How to Model the Impacts and Benefits of Integrated, Cold Shell and Warm Shell Fit-Outs

The world of Fit-Outs is filled with industry-specific jargon that can be tricky when conducting LCA studies. Within Australia and New Zealand, the following are the typical delivery options of Fit-Outs used by building owners/developers: Integrated Fitout, Warm Shell, Cold Shell. In this article, we demystify these terms to help you understand the Fit-out scope of a project and provided some guidance on how to model the impacts and benefits of Fit-Outs in eTool.

What are Integrated, Cold Shell and Warm Shell Fit-Outs?

According to GBCA, Cold Shell, Warm Shell and Integrated Fit-Outs are defined as follow:

  1. Cold Shell: Finishes and services are not installed. A tenancy with an unfinished interior, with no HVAC services beyond the riser (or core or rigid duct), and without lighting, plumbing, ceilings, floor finishes (or with a setdown to allow for future provision of floor finishes), interior partitions or walls.
  2. Warm Shell: Finishes and services are applied to common areas. Tenancies are delivered with ceilings, floor coverings and lighting systems; and ducts from air supply and return risers, electrical and hydraulic services are installed above the ceiling from the riser throughout the tenancy areas.
  3. Integrated Fitout: Where the tenancy design and construction is fully coordinated with the base building. This includes finishes, services and fitout to all areas, common and tenancy, with services fully installed at each floor.

End-Life-Impacts for Fit-Outs

According to EN 15978 scope, the end-of-life impacts of the existing or previous building should not be included in the new building’s LCA.  However, for interior fit-outs the situation is more complicated and depends on the starting condition. Several potential scenarios and guidance on how to attack these are below:

  1. An Anchor Tenancy in a New Building: In this scenario the Reference Case (business-as-usual) should be an ‘integrated fit-out’. This is because the building construction will not go ahead before the tenant signs, so they would be able to specify the fit-out details. There should be no impacts from de-fit of previous tenancy (there was no previous tenancy) and no benefits from retaining any previous items.
  2. A Large Sub-Tenancy (but not anchor tenancy) in a New Building: In this scenario the Reference Case (business-as-usual) should be to ‘de-fit a warm shell fit-out’. This is because the tenant will want their own fit-out, but the building will have a warm shell fit-out done to entice tenants. The removal impacts of the warm shell fit-out should be accounted for. So that there is a benefit for retaining any existing items.
  3.  A Large Sub-Tenancy in an Existing Building: In this scenario the Reference Case (business-as-usual) should be the ‘de-fit of the previous tenancy’. This is because the previous fit out will most likely not be appropriate for the new operation. The impacts from previous fit-out removal do not need to be accounted for as they are already accounted for in the end-of-life from the previous fit-out. So that there is a benefit for retaining any existing items.
  4. A Small Tenancy in Mixed-Use/Residential Building: In this scenario the Reference Case (business-as-usual) should be to use the existing warm shell fit-out. This is because this type of business is most likely small and will not have the resources to fully refit the space. There should be no impact from the previous fit-out or benefits from retaining previous items. In this case, there would be a penalty for removing existing items.

To account for end-of-life demolition impacts of the new fit-out (Module C1) in eTool, we have created a demolition template specifically for fit-outs. You can use the ‘Demolition – Fitout (End-of-Life)‘ template for fit-out only assessments. Note that the quantity unit is m2 of the new fit-out floor area to be demolished.

If there is any removal of existing finishes to facilitate the completion of the new fit-out in fit-out only assessments, you can use the following templates to account for the one-off material disposal impacts of existing carpet or plasterboard that will be removed:

The fit-out end-of-life demolition template will not be necessary for whole building assessments since the overall building demolition template would already account for this.

Material Waste Impacts of Warm Shell Fit-Outs

Construction waste is one area that tends to be quite challenging to address. One way to do this is by reducing the amount of waste generated when fit-outs get stripped out by tenants.

As this topic becomes more prevalent, we have discussed with a number of prestigious developers. Based on their expertise in this area, nowadays, it is far more common and cost effective for developers to opt for integrated fit-outs. In the rare occasion where warm shell fit-outs are delivered, only about 30% of the NLA fit-out is replaced by the tenant(s) since it is also cost effective for them to retain it.

We have created the templates below for whole building assessments to account for ‘warm shell’ assumptions in the Reference/BAU building. For details of the assumptions used for these templates, please refer to the template description:

These templates may be considered to help demonstrate the benefits of an integrated fit-out. Note that the standard fit-out templates will still need to be included in the design to account for the recurring life cycle impacts associated with the tenant(s) installed fit-outs. Below is our proposed modelling approach in eTool:

  1. Reference/BAU design = Base building + Standard fit-out templates + Warm Shell Fit-out Material Waste Impacts template
  2. Proposed design = delete Warm Shell Fit-out Material Waste Impacts template to demonstrate the savings.

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