Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on design

1. The Importance of Color in Interior Design


Color can make or break a space. Choosing appropriate colors for a facility’s spaces is an important aspect of interior design. Even if your organization has hired an interior designer, it’s good to know a few basics about color.

Color is sometimes divided into two categories: warm and cool tones. Warm tones, like red, orange and yellow can energize a space and its occupants. Cool tones such as blue, green and purple generally create quiet, relaxing atmospheres.

When choosing wall and flooring colors, it’s important to keep the goal of the space in mind. If energetic work is being performed in a space, warm, exhilarating tones might be good to consider, for example. In break areas, cool tones may be more appropriate when occupants can relax.

Color has a profound influence on a space and the people in it. Use it to your advantage to create an inviting, productive space.


2.  Geothermal heat pump systems

I’m Ed Sullivan, editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today’s topic is geothermal heat pump systems.

Geothermal systems have garnered new attention because of the growing interest in green design. Geothermal systems work by transferring heat to and from the ground or ground water. In cold weather, the liquid in the pipes draws heat from the subsurface; in warm weather, heat from the building is transferred into the ground.

In the most common design, closed loops of pipes are placed into the ground. In vertical systems, wells are dug up to 300 feet deep for the pipes. In horizontal systems, the pipes are laid in trenches 6 to 10 feet underground and are usually used for smaller buildings.

The environmental benefit is simple: Geothermal systems provide heating and cooling without the use of fossil fuels. What’s more, they use technology that is simple, reliable and efficient, with operating costs up to 60 percent less than conventional systems. But they are significantly more expensive to install. Paybacks range from 5 to 12 years.

3.  Acoustically Sound Classrooms

Good classroom design should include good acoustic design. A classroom with bad acoustics will hinder the learning environment, making speech difficult to hear or hard to understand, a big problem for small children.

Three main acoustic issues should be addressed in classrooms. The first is controlling reverberation — a factor that can make speech unintelligible. This can usually be reduced by using sound-absorbent finishes in ceilings and walls.

The second issue is isolating the classroom from outside noise, such as street traffic, other children in the hallways or sound from neighboring classrooms. This can be achieved through construction methods and materials and is measured by sound transmission class.

The third concern is HVAC sound control. While effectively white noise, HVAC sound will still make speech unintelligible to students seated farthest from the teacher. The maximum sound coming from HVAC equipment should be between 35 and 40 dBA.  

4.  Efficient HVAC Systems May Qualify for Tax Breaks

I’m Ed Sullivan, editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today’s topic is potential tax benefits for very efficient HVAC systems.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 – better known as EPAct – provides tax deductions for the installation of HVAC systems with energy costs that are at least 16.7 percent than an HVAC system designed to meet the 2001 edition of ASHRAE 90.1. The deductions apply both to new construction and to renovations. Although HVAC component upgrades typically don’t qualify, a comprehensive system installation is a good candidate. So are geothermal and thermal storage systems.

Getting the deduction isn’t easy. EPAct requires that the performance of the system be substantiated by energy modeling. And the modeling required is different than the modeling required by LEED. But rebates may be available to cover at least some of the cost of modeling, though the rebates must be obtained before the modeling is conducted.

The tax benefits are currently due to expire at the end of 2008. But there are proposals in Congress to extend the tax breaks. For green buildings and other buildings where significant HVAC work is planned, the tax breaks are worth looking into.


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design , paint , flooring , color

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