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By Naomi Millán, Senior Editor
Facilities Management Article Use Policy
When Leon County in Florida decided to consolidate the county emergency service functions as well as the City of Tallahassee's emergency services into one 100,000-gross-square-foot facility that would provide improved space and efficient operation, they set a very high bar for themselves. The two-building facility is designed to LEED Silver standards and is self-sustaining, redundant, and resilient in every regard, as well as being resource-conscious, energy efficient, and built in such a way as to minimize recurring maintenance costs. And it was designed to foster communication and collaboration while providing individual support space for each of the five emergency departments (and their four data centers) and their staff, as well as provide easily reconfigurable work areas to support future needs. And all of that was accomplished with the complex project falling back into the hands of the Leon County department of facilities management midstream when the consultant fees proved untenable.
What did it take to deliver the facility on time and under budget to the satisfaction of five separate groups with specific functional needs from two political subdivisions? Meticulous groundwork from the facility management team with a lengthy and detailed programming effort.
"The advanced work you do in programming a facility is the most critical step you take in building a building," says Carl Morgan, construction manager with the division of facilities management and construction, and project manager for the new facility. "We went through almost nine months of work in programming this facility. We went through every space in the building as to how it was to function." Mechanical and electrical systems were also meticulously programmed.
Morgan says they worked very closely with each of the stakeholders during the programming stage to define all of the variables and get agreement ahead of any construction activities. "We never showed them a floor plan," says Morgan. "We did it all with bubble diagrams. As we developed the conceptual designs, we continued to include them."
The facility was designed with its future occupants and their well-being, productivity, and comfort as primary considerations. For example, occupants tested 13 different high-capacity chairs before the selection was specified, and the call taker and dispatchers consoles were designed to be as ergonomic as possible. "If we missed the connection between the people and the building, then the building is a failure," Morgan says. And the Public Safety Complex is as far from failure as is possible.
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