Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on ADA

1. ADA and the Path of Travel

ADA

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, ADA and the path of travel.

Most discussions related to requirements under the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, focus on such building components as doors and restrooms. One area managers might want to pay more attention to is the interior path of travel. Managers need to consider these issues:
•  Lobby floor surfaces should be smooth and slip-resistant. Be cautious of floor-waxing products that become slippery when wet. They represent a trip-and-fall hazard waiting to happen.
•  When using carpet runners at doors and lobbies, make sure edges are secured to the floor and do not curl.
•  Make sure printed directories are readable, use larger print, and are not behind a reflective surface. One option is to use security staff to provide assistance to visitors.
•  Make sure items such as hanging artwork and fire-extinguisher boxes are not mounted between 27 inches and 80 inches from the floor and do not protrude more than 4 inches from a wall or 12 inches from a post. A person with a visual disability using a cane will not detect these protruding objects before walking into them. The remedy is to either move the object to another location — or higher than 80 inches above the floor — or place something underneath it to provide a warning.

Most of these items require relatively easy and low-cost fixes, as well as a regular system of inspection and maintenance.


2.  Renovations and ADA

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, renovations and ADA.

Facility managers often ask when renovations trigger a requirement to bring a building in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and exactly how much compliance is required when this happens.

Under ADA requirements for readily achievable barrier removal under the ADA, barriers must be removed — with a few exceptions — regardless of any work being done.

Anytime renovations are made to a facility where barriers still exist, 20 percent of the construction costs must be spent on barrier removal on the path of travel. For ADA purposes, the path of travel also includes water fountains and rest rooms. Any renovation to a primary function area triggers the requirement. A primary function area is an area where the activities are germane to the business, such as a bank's teller stations.

ADA does not require barrier removal on the path of travel that exceeds 20 percent of the cost of the renovation, which is then considered to be disproportionate. The major difference between ADA requirements and building codes is that ADA requires barrier removal in existing buildings, regardless of renovations. Building codes do not come into play until renovations, alterations or new construction take place.

3.  Data Centers Look For Ways To Fight Energy Costs

This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management. Today's tip is to look beyond the server racks for energy savings in data centers.

The data center industry is booming. Construction is going on all across the country, the Internet is devouring bandwidth, and demand for cloud computing services is skyrocketing. But environmental responsibility and energy efficiency have become mainstays in commercial buildings, and when it comes to energy consumed per square foot, few commercial spaces can match the appetite of data centers.

To compound the problem, energy costs in some high-density locations have risen significantly over the past few years and many regions can expect further increases in the near future especially where deregulation is anticipated or has occurred. For example, in Maryland, utility rates increased from an average of 9 cents per kWh to almost 13 cents per kWh, while Pennsylvania is anticipating increases from about 8 cents to 10 cents. As a result, energy inefficient data centers are attracting the attention of corporations and government agencies, while a variety of other organizations are revising and creating standards to identify and enhance efficiencies in mission critical facilities.

While inefficiencies in data centers run the gamut, the majority of energy waste can be attributed to utilization equipment, with the second largest losses found in the mechanical system and uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Ultimately, a data center's overall efficiency begins and ends with an effective design for the mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

But before looking with those system, don't forget the basics. Effective design starts with an efficient building envelope. Although it is important to have a tight roof, it is just as essential to have a tight building slab, perimeter, and walls. A tight building envelope will allow for a central humidification system and effective air flow management to the cabinet.

Another basic, but easily ignored, key to efficiency is a lighting control system. These are value-engineered out of many projects, but installation of low-voltage lighting control systems and various lighting switching devices (such as occupancy sensors) can help manage the lighting load. Consideration should be given to high-efficiency lighting with low-harmonic ballasts, such as T5, LED lighting, dimming systems and flexible lighting control.

4.  Accessibility: Making Way for ADA

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, responding to ADA changes.

When it comes to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, many facility managers must be concerned with more than the bricks and sticks. Policies, procedures and operational issues can demand just as much attention.

That's because changes made by the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, involve more than design and construction issues. A host of new requirements for policies and procedures affect all public accommodations. The requirements include policies on:
• the availability of accessible seating and ticketing policies
• reservations for accessible guest rooms in transient lodging
• the use of service animals
• the use of wheelchairs and other powered mobility devices, such as Segways.

These new rules became effective March 15, 2011. Managers can prepare for them by taking a few important steps.

First, if the facility is an assembly area, such as sports, entertainment or performance venues, review existing policies and procedures for the availability, distribution, and sale of wheelchair seating. If no policy exists, develop one. Second, managers at all places of public accommodation need to review or develop policies on service animals, powered mobility devices and effective communications.

Having thorough policies and procedures and communicating them to employees is critical. One can build the Taj Mahal of accessibility, but a person with a disability who does not receive proper treatment from security personnel, receptionists or sales people might wind up talking to a federal judge or the DOJ. Be proactive in ADA compliance efforts, and maximize the return on investment. It's the right thing — and the smart thing — to do.


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