Value of Data

Harnessing data to accommodate a growing global population

How a consistent approach to data helped Turner & Townsend save a client $100 million dollars

David Crewe

Global Lead - Benchmarking

Turner & Townsend

In just over 30 years, the global population has increased by almost 2.5 billion. This population surge is likely to manifest in our cities, put extreme pressure on resources, and have huge implications for the health and wellbeing of people and the natural environment.

Infographic, United Nations Population Growth Forecast


5.3 billion


7.3 billion


8.5 billion


9.8 billion

A step change in construction will be required to satisfy the demands of a growing population – shelter, new workplaces and infrastructure. Professionals are already harnessing technological innovation and data to stay ahead.

When a global energy provider planned to roll out their corporate offices around the world they looked to Turner & Townsend to deliver a transformational programme that ensured return on investment. The client wanted to reduce the unit costs of office space without compromising productivity or wellbeing.

David Crewe, Global Lead of Benchmarking at Turner & Townsend, knew that to achieve the best outcome for the client – creating the best value while maintaining quality in the offices and optimising productivity and sustainability – data was going to be key.

In the past, the lack of a consistent approach to capturing, structuring and organising data was a real problem for the profession. It made comparing performance of assets extremely difficult, which led to less well-informed decision-making about the future of built assets in cities. This eventually cost clients both time and money. However, David and his team used the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) to provide a structure for capturing data on a consistent basis and were able to save their client $100 million on a $500 million programme over five years.

David says: “We used ICMS to gather consistent commercial data from our client’s corporate office rollout programme. Adding the measurement data of the office building obtained using International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS), we normalised and compared the data with our client’s peer groups and other sectors. This identified evidence-based saving opportunities well in excess of $100 million, though we moderated the target down to reflect the transitional nature of their development programme. Hence $100 million of savings on a $500 million programme over five years.”

Cities are growing at an unprecedented pace—it is breathtaking. But cities are complex environments.


David and his team used the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) and were able to save their client $100 million on a $500 million programme over five years.

According to David, having a rich data set that shines a light on best practice, identifying where waste can be removed, looking at how projects are organised, and how they’re efficient and effective, is extremely powerful. Clients are keen to have access to consistent data so they can compare it between regions and across geographies.

David’s data-led approach was extremely effective. “We reduced our client's cost per desk and cost of space provisions well beyond their expectations,” says David.

As a result of the success of applying ICMS to this project, David’s team is moving into predictive modelling, which relies on big sample sizes, rich attributes, and the insight, chartered surveyors can bring to the process.

David thinks this will put his team ahead of their competition.

Using data to improve outcomes is critical. The area of competition amongst organisations will be what you do with the data, not simply having the data itself.

Data is the basis for overcoming other global issues such as climate change and sustainability. There needs to be a rich set of attributes attached to the data set. A good data set with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) or another sustainability rating can allow organisations to identify their true commercial impact.

David believes data will significantly empower the profession in the future.

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