Laurie Gilmer Column: Building an Arsenal of Troubleshooting Technology
Most people walking into an institutional or commercial facility do not give much thought to the effort it takes to operate a building, much less operate it well. They tend to expect the water will run when they need it to, rooms will be lit, they will have power and internet service, and that they will be comfortable.
That last expectation is the most subjective, the hardest to deal with, and the most common. As highly adapted humans who can survive an enormous range of environmental conditions, it turns out that thermal comfort is our emotional undoing in the work environment.
In facility management, we've been dealing with temperature issues forever. No matter how far our building technologies advance, how smart our systems become, and how much we meter and monitor, people still complain about the same things: It's too hot. It's too cold.
In a controlled building, maintenance and engineering managers and their staffs typically deal with three sources of potential problems:
People. Specifically, their preferences, tolerances, expectations, and attitudes
The built environment. How well does the building resist change?
Controls. How well do systems respond to changes in facilities?
When problems arise, it sometimes is difficult to tell whether it is a people issue or if a building or system problem actually exists. If the problem is the building or system, exactly what is wrong? As building systems become more complex, it can be more difficult to figure out.