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4  FM quick reads on Windows

1. Five Tips on Preparing For a Major Event

Today's tip of the day covers five things all facility or property managers should do to prepare their facilities for a major event, like the NATO Summit or the Republican or Democratic National Conventions.

The first and most important strategy is to communicate early and often with tenants and occupants. Set up an email list or newsletter to update them, and update them daily (or more) during the event itself. The rumor mill getting out of hand is one of the worst things that can happen during a big event. By making sure tenants and occupants are informed with accurate and useful information, facility and property managers are taking a huge step to prepare for a big security event.

Secondly, especially if your building is iconic or in close proximity to the event, contact local law enforcement long before the event, and invite them to tour the building. Get them familiar with the layout and show them spaces that might make for good command posts if something happens at the event, and the building needs to be commandeered as a control center.

Third, if your building has an open lobby, make sure to implement a plan so that all visitors are identified. Hire extra security and institute a visitor management policy. One strategy property managers often use during big security events is to institute night and weekend visitor policies during the days of event - again, ensuring that everyone in the building is accounted for.

Fourth, make sure your risk assessment and scenario planning are up to date and accurate. Make sure all occupants and management are familiar with evacuation and shelter-in-place plans. Also, experts suggest having alternate evacuation plans, as well - if, for instance, the traditional muster spot is occupied with media tents, or something similar.

Finally, simply have plans in place for business continuity if the worst comes to fruition. Hire a disaster recovery firm. Make sure there is plenty of food, toiletries and sleeping arrangements in the building, in the event that it's not safe or possible for occupants to leave the building for an extended period of time. Check back-up generators and air intakes to make sure they're secure and operational.

Remember, as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

2.  What Metrics to Look at For Exterior Energy Efficiency

Today's tip is about the important measures facility managers should be aware of when trying to quantify the quality and energy efficiency of exterior building elements. For new construction, the ASHRAE 90.1 standard is the baseline for measuring how efficient a building is. Soon, though, ASHRAE 189.1, a new green building construction code, and the ICC's International Green Construction Code, will be the standards. These standards reference several metrics for exterior building elements that exterior components must meet when choosing the prescriptive path to compliance.

For roofs, the two main measures are solar reflectance and infrared emittance. Solar reflectance measures a surface's ability to reflect infrared, visible and UV light. Generally, the higher the solar reflectance, the more energy efficient the roof will be. Infrared emittance measures a surface's ability to re-emit any energy absorbed back into the atmosphere. A so-called "cool roof" generally has an emittance value higher than .90 and a reflectance value of .65 or higher. Finally, solar reflectance index, or SRI, is a combination of the two via a standard calculation. SRI is the new standard used in LEED.

For windows and skylights assemblies, U-factor measures heat loss. The lower the number, the better the performance. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measures how well a product limits radiant heat gain from sunlight. Visible Transmittance measures how much light, but not heat comes through. The higher the number, the more light is transmitted. Finally, Condensation Resistance indicates a product's ability to resist the formation of condensation on interior surfaces. The higher the rating, the better.

For wall assemblies, the best measure for efficiency is R-value - or the thermal flow resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the insulating effectiveness. When calculating the R-value of a wall assembly, the R-values of the wall, insulation and any other layers are totaled to arrive at the R-value of the total assembly.

3.  Look Out for Window Problems

Today's tip is about understanding how to care for windows and address problems that could turn into huge headaches if left unchecked.

Clearly, the easiest way to avoid letting hidden problems fester and get the longest life possible out of windows is to do regular inspections and complete routine preventive maintenance. Of course, in large facilities, the sheer number of windows makes regular inspections difficult, so experts suggest inspecting several samples on each façade of the building. If you recognize a pattern of problems, it's a safe assumption that most or all of the windows have the same problem.

To complete a meaningful inspection, look at the frames and make sure there is no gap between frame and wall that may have resulted from temperature swings that cause regular expansion and contraction. On the exterior, examine the caulking between the window and exterior wall to make sure it's not cracked and that the seal is still true.

If windows are operable, open and close them several times and listen for groans or other odd noises, which are indications that the windows are out of form. Make sure the operator mechanisms themselves aren't warped or rusty.

Finally, take a good look at the cosmetic condition of the interior and exterior window frames - if the paint is peeling or the wood warping, it's a good sign that moisture is present, where there's moisture, there's probably air leakage too.

4.  Reducing HVAC First Costs and Operating Costs

Today's tip concerns saving money on HVAC costs.

The time to start thinking about HVAC is at the very start of programming a new building. That's because life-cycle HVAC costs for a new building are often locked in before the efficiency of chillers and boilers has even come up for discussion.

The siting of the building, for example, will affect solar gain. The choice of windows can influence both heat transfer and solar gain. Likewise, the level of insulation in the walls and roof plays a significant role in determining the operating cost of the HVAC system. And the type of lighting system used in the facility will have some effect on heating and cooling loads.

It's not just energy costs that can be saved. Smaller loads translate into smaller chillers, fans and boilers, reducing first costs as well as operating costs.

Specifying efficient HVAC equipment is important, of course, but by the time talk turns to manufacturers and model numbers, many of the most important decisions regarding HVAC efficiency have already been made. That's why it's useful for facility managers to get involved as early as possible in programming.


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