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Sustainability: Developing Maintenance Standards

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, developing maintenance standards.

Taking control of a new health care facility is a challenge maintenance and engineering managers might face rarely if ever in their careers. Those who have managed a facility since the day it opened understand the many challenges a new building can pose. Some of these challenges managers can prepare for, while others surface unexpectedly.

The Modesto Medical Center in Modesto, Calif., is a 670,000-square-foot complex comprised of medical offices and a full-service hospital. The facility opened in October 2008 and has served as a green laboratory for Kaiser Permanente’s future green building projects.

A big part of the medical center project involved developing maintenance standards for Kaiser Permanente. Standards have existed at Kaiser since the 1980s, says Tom Cooper, Kaiser’s national manager sustainable building design and research.

“We try not to focus as much on the first cost as total cost of ownership,” Cooper says. “As we develop standards, we involved the folks that need to maintain it to understand how to adapt the standards so we can save money operationally and make their jobs easier by taking into account the total cost of a product or building system. That's a very critical part of how we develop standards.”

Some green elements implemented at the medical center are new to the maintenance and operations staff, and Kaiser is using the department's experiences to improve similar projects down the road. Dialogue takes place between the maintenance department and those responsible for developing the design and construction standards.

"We typically get that feedback on an ongoing basis as we implement standards from buildings that either have been retrofitted or have been around for awhile," Cooper says. "Within the first couple years, you get a lot of great feedback on things we need to change in our standards."


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