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By Dan Hounsell, Editor-in-Chief
Energy Efficiency Article Use Policy
Opening up wall after wall, tearing out hundreds of square yards of flooring, reconfiguring sprawling electrical and plumbing systems, and generally overhauling the appearance and performance of an institutional and commercial facility — all of these are components of complex retrofits and upgrades that organizations complete regularly.
But how many of these projects actually succeed — deliver intended savings and performance, in other words — can be a very different story. Many times, the problem is one of the many moving pieces of upgrades and retrofits. Small decisions made early in the process can snowball into major problems quickly and, ultimately, doom the organization’s investment in the project.
Nobody wants that. So that’s where an organization’s facilities team needs to exert its influence.
“As good as consultants can be and as much as they want to do the right thing by their clients, nobody represents the owner as well as the owner,” says Greg Harubin, facilities management director with Day Kimball Healthcare in Putnam, Conn. “It’s your house. You own it long-term. No one else looks at a project the way the owner does and has that long-term perspective.”
Read more about managers’ strategies for success in planning and performing upgrades in my article, “Rx for Savings.”
Maintenance and engineering managers and their departments are well-qualified to play central roles in planning and performing upgrades and retrofits. Managers have broad management skills, including financial management, which is essential to successful projects, and they and their staffs have the one ingredient no one else in the organization has — the technical expertise and deep familiarity with the facilities and systems that are the targets of the project.
Managers have another, better reason to step into a leadership role beyond wanting to finish the work on time and under budget: Their departments will inherit the finished product. This responsibility might be smartest reason of all to step up, long before any work on walls or wiring begins.