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LEED: Ensuring Long-Term Performance

July 17, 2012 - Maintenance & Operations

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, LEED and long-term performance.

When maintenance and engineering managers are involved in designing, constructing, and operating a new facility, there is a great deal to learn along the way. But when the facility is pursuing never-before-seen green building goals, managers can expect a much steeper learning curve. Perhaps nobody understands that better than Jeff Schorzman, facilities manager with Providence Newberg (Ore.) Medical Center.

In a way, Schorzman went back to school as he helped the 183,000-square-foot facility become the first hospital to earn Gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. But Schorzman's education did not end when the hospital came online in June 2006. Instead, he has kept learning about the building and its state-of-the-art technology.

Despite the advanced technologies Schorzman and his team specified for the new facility, the medical center did not perform as designers intended during its first year of operation. One reason the facility struggled initially was that the project team tried to meet tight deadlines without sufficient vetting of the systems.

"I know you get bumped up against schedules, but folks really need to incorporate into their schedules time to wash the systems out," he says. "We did commission the building, but we were pushed, and we were rushed. You really need to give yourself time to work through the issues and drive the boat."

Another cause of inefficient operation related to oversized equipment.

"Our steam system in the building was sized for humidification for the whole building 24/7, and our sterilization of surgical instrumentation 24/7/365," he says. "The majority of our surgeries are done Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The only areas that require humidification are the surgery areas, so (the system was) oversized."

Schorzman and his staff went through trial and error during the first year of operation, but now, systems are performing as the project team intended. Power use is down 12 percent, compared to the first year, and gas use is down about 30 percent, Schorzman says. Technicians are constantly making tweaks and improvements, but five years after becoming the first LEED Gold hospital, he can look back at this learning experience as a positive one.


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