Documentation created during construction is rarely communicated to operating staff.
Featured Editorial on FacilitiesNet.com By Rock Ridolfi Jr.
An integrated design approach combined with commissioning also pays dividends during the turnover from new construction to operations. This turnover shouldn’t be as difficult as starting a new role as a facility manager in an already existing building. New facility management assignments commonly begin with learning the equipment, the control system, sequences, maintenance schedules, operating schedules, tenant leasing agreements, probably even managing a new tenant improvement or two, and mitigating issues uncovered during due diligence, all the while maintaining several other properties. The expectation is that new construction turnover should be seamless, but to this day, the documentation created during construction is rarely communicated to the proper team members responsible for ongoing operations. Likewise, it’s rare in existing buildings to be handed the building operating plan, systems narrative, and sequence of operations, or even a decent set of current drawings. Preventing these problems is one reason why an integrated design and a commissioning agent are so important to the turnover from new construction to operations.
An important goal of the integrative process and a key role of the commissioning authority in new construction is to ensure proper communication to the operations team of the equipment and drawing documentation, operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals, start-up reports, issue logs, and most importantly, confirming that training of operations personnel was performed by the contractors and vendors.
No matter whether the transition is to new construction or to an existing building, the facility manager must become intimately familiar with a wide range of matters: the equipment, areas served, post-occupancy corrective work or existing equipment issues, specific occupant leasing requirements, areas prone to excessive heating and cooling loads, operating and capital improvement budgets, preventive maintenance schedules, vendors — the list goes on and on.
During the transition from new construction to operations, proper documentation and the subsequent communication of the documents to specific team members is essential. The documents include a building operating plan for tenants grouped by similar operational schedules. The building operating plan outlines equipment serving the tenant(s) and key set-points for their preferred operation. The systems narrative provides a basic summary of the mechanical, lighting, domestic hot water, and controls systems used in the building. The sequence of operations defines the functional control settings and operational procedure of each piece of equipment in the building. The sequence of operations also states operational set-points, like humidity, static pressure, air temperature, scheduling, and safety limits. The preventive maintenance plan defines the frequency and tasking required to properly maintain the equipment used throughout the building. This information can be found in the O&M manuals and created based on experience.
Ultimately, you need to keep tenants happy and the building operating. The easiest way to do that is by starting equipment hours prior to occupant arrival every morning and enabling the systems to run until the very last tenant departs in the evening, or worse, simply operating 24/7. But tenant happiness should not come at the expense of efficiency. Leases should be used to express temperature limitations, process for scheduling of overtime air, recycling requirements, and other tenant responsibilities. Overtime scheduled air and lighting should be reset and reviewed with the tenant on a recurring basis to prevent prolonged and unnecessary consumption.
Rock Ridolfi Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org), CxA, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, is a Senior Solutions Consultant for Rivion. The firm offers energy and sustainability solutions to improve building performance, reduce operating costs, increase asset value, and create healthy environments.