Consultancy and Engineering Awards: Rapiere design software wins collaboration prize

Four very different consultancies came together to develop what has ultimately become the Rapiere design software. Instinctive tendencies to guard rather than share commercially sensitive information were overcome, as were other fears of risk to reputation and concerns over funding being committed to what initially appeared to some a nebulous, non-core activity.

Determination and truly collaborative efforts won through. Rapiere is now a commercial asset in its own right, used to substantially benefit the design work of the four companies, Chapman BDSP, GreenSpace Live, Architype and Sweet Group, while also now offered to the market through a separate Rapiere branded company.

The motivation behind the software came from recognition of a need to efficiently measure and analyse the carbon, cost and energy consumption of buildings or projects throughout their lifecycle.

Early design decisions are critical to the profitability and ultimate success of any project and the development of Rapiere was initiated due to the growing frustration of architects, engineers and environmental specialists as they encountered difficulty optimising designs across multiple disciplines. What was needed was a single platform of software that all could use concurrently for single projects.

Employees from the four partners came together and set to work, each researching and providing a robust data model based on industry standards for their specific discipline. Sweet Group provided the capital and lifecycle cost model; Chapman BDSP developed an energy and services model; Architype supplied similar for embodied carbon; while the collaborative software solution came from GreenSpace Live.

All this was despite initial hesitancy from the companies’ shareholders. A collaboration between such different companies and disparate disciplines had not been attempted before. To begin with there were fears that development of Rapiere could reduce the earning potential of the partner companies by doing the work currently carried out by their employees. There were also potential conflicts of interest as proprietary knowledge that made up the partners’ unique intellectual property had to be shared as part of the collaboration.

However, the persistence of visionary individuals from each organisation convinced senior management teams to maintain their support for the initiative. Rapiere is now a very useful asset, producing better designs in terms of lifecycle cost, carbon and energy performance.

Feedback received from users of the software has revealed substantial cost and environmental savings on specific projects. One such is a recently completed office building, which had a target BREEAM rating of Outstanding, with a benchmark figure for embedded carbon of 980 CO2kg/m2. The final outcome for the building was 140 CO2kg/m2. The capital cost remained within budget and under a set benchmark target per m2.

Judges’ comments
“The four companies involved in developing the Rapiere software overcame instinctive barriers to form a truly collaborative and ultimately successful venture. Despite battles over time and resources, Rapiere is now on the market and being used as it was intended, with considerable success.”

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