4  FM quick reads on ADA

1. 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.

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.

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.

ADA Compliance: Important Dates

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

The U.S. Department of Justice in July announced the adoption of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. It is important facility managers understand several key dates related to the use and enforcement of the new standards.

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and the Title III Final Rule Amending 28 CFR Part 36: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 15, 2010. That created the following enforcement dates:
• March 15, 2011 — the rules become effective.
• March 15, 2012 — all renovations, new construction and readily achievable barrier removal, not already performed, must comply with the 2010 standards.

Between Sept. 15, 2010 and March 15, 2012, facilities can choose between the 1991 standards and the 2010 standards. But organizations must complete all barrier-removal by March 14, 2012, if not using the 1991 standards. Those areas then become a safe harbor under the 2010 ADA standards. When a manager chooses to use either the 1991 standards or the 2010 standards, the entire building then must comply with that standard.

It also is essential managers understand the impact of these dates on design or construction for alterations and new buildings.

Projects begun under the 1991 standards must comply with those standards.

Projects completed recently under the 1991 standards do not require changes.

For projects that will be completed before March 14, 2012, managers must determine which standard will be more beneficial to comply with. For the 1991 standard, organizations must complete all construction by March 14, 2012.


ADA , accessibility , design and construction

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