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Building Performance: Customer as Catalyst
Seeking customer feedback has become routine for many maintenance and engineering departments. Now, managers might be well-served to start asking an additional set of questions that relate less to department performance and more to the performance of the buildings their departments operate and maintain.
Given their existing relationships with occupants and managers’ central role in product specification, maintenance and engineering departments are especially well-positioned to carry out so-called post-occupancy evaluations.
Such evaluations can help organizations determine the actual effectiveness of installed products in both new and renovated facilities, something few organizations do with any regularity or thoroughness. This lack of follow-through is understandable, given the amount of activity going on in all types of facilities. But determining whether products and equipment perform as desired is essential.
Buildings that incorporate “green” products, systems and equipment are particularly good candidates for these evaluations. These products often incorporate new technology or materials and, because they have no track record in facilities, must be evaluated thoroughly. Collecting hard data on product performance can help managers specify more effectively and can help justify expenditures in equipment that performs.
One such evaluation is an occupant indoor environmental quality survey from the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California-Berkeley. The survey is designed to gauge occupants’ views of all aspects of indoor environments. Data from the Web-based survey is designed to help managers pinpoint equipment and system problems and make changes.
Maintenance departments already play a crucial part in keeping facilities operating efficiently. Conducting post-occupancy evaluations offer an opportunity to elevate the performance of departments and expand managers’ roles in bottom-line decisions.