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3 Tips to Get the Building Performance You were Promised

Published on 7/17/2015

Neither your engineer nor architect set out to design an inefficient facility, and it’s doubtful that your construction manager intended to build one. All the same, not all of today’s high-performance healthcare designs end up living up to their promised performance.

Why? One reason is that few facility operators hold the design and construction team accountable for the operating results.

In today’s collaborative construction environment, where design-build contracts and integrated project delivery solutions are less uncommon, more owners are writing into their design contract language that holds these teams accountable.

The primary way to do is to hold designers to a certain energy per square foot. For example, the owner could require that the new facility operate at least 15 percent below ASHRAE standards with an initial target at less than 170 kBtu/square foot.

So how does this affect you? Well, by tracking operating results, facility managers are the party responsible for making sure these designs live up to the expectations. But your involvement can start earlier than operations.

Get on the design/build team and help the hospital understand how integrated technology will help improve operational efficiency, quality of care and significant improvements in energy utilization and associated costs.

Help vet the technology integration partner that would need to meet their corporate goals of 15 percent below the ASHRE average of 170 Btu/square foot. In addition, have a continuous commissioning program built into the new facility, thus providing lower operating and maintenance costs over the building life cycle,

Here are a few additional suggestions for getting the performance you expect from your new building or addition:

  1. Keep your contracts specific. A case in point: what does a BMS contract require when it simply states “the building management system will interface with the nurse call system”? Your expectations of interface are likely vastly different from the designers. Kimbell suggests that when possible, you include “use-cases,” worded descriptions of what you require your BMS contractor to deliver.

  2. Don’t “value engineer” away your value. As general contractors work to stay on budget, it may seem like a simple solution to downgrade a system here and there. And while this value-engineering may save on construction costs in the short-term, it’s a poor long-term solution. A BMS is an upfront investment designed to save significantly on lifecycle costs, and help get the performance you expect for your facility.

  3. Plan now for predictive maintenance. Reactive maintenance — conducting repairs after a failure happens — is a costly and disruptive strategy. Predictive maintenance tools monitor the condition of in-service equipment either continuously or at set intervals. Maintenance is a necessary part of keeping a building performing well, so planning for it in the early stages of construction can help you save time and money over the long run.

About the Author: Stacy Kimbell is the healthcare segment marketing manager with Schneider Electric.