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Facility managers know that major HVAC upgrades can be some of the most difficult projects of their professional careers. There exists tremendous potential for workplace disruption, unanticipated equipment challenges and the wide-ranging opinions from building occupants over the definition of comfort — a factor that should never be underestimated. But a healthy implementation plan, open communication between tenants and service providers, and realistic expectations can prevent HVAC equipment installation from being a bane.
The starting point is proper planning. Every savvy facility manager instinctively knows this. But the mantra can never be repeated often enough, according to Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager for Toyota Motor Sales U.S. operations. "Plan, plan and plan prior to starting any physical work," he says.
He also recommends developing back-up scenarios for any disruptions to the schedule. Cooke's list of "what-ifs" include unfavorable weather, equipment delivery delays, structural considerations demanded by new HVAC units on existing roofs, crane availability and access, and more.
Rick Martorano, director of space and facility operations for Arizona State University, echoes the sentiment. In his case, he had to plan far in advance to accommodate the needs and requirements of lab users on ASU's campus.
"Make sure you have their buy-in, and leave room in the schedule for unforeseen issues since they're unavoidable on projects of this magnitude."