Facility leaders share their thoughts on what to expect this year and beyond
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The building envelope seems so simple. In a traditional design phase, the architect selects a wall and roof system and writes the specification. The general contractor will install what was specified and the warranty will cover the materials installed, provided the installation conforms to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
What could be simpler? But think about it. Between the general contractor, architect, material supplier, and facility management staff, who has the healthcare facility’s long term interest best at heart? That’s right, the facility staff that will have to live with whatever is provided.
At some point the walls will need to be cut into, the ceiling will need to be replaced, the exterior will need cleaning or tuck pointing and the structural system will need to be cut into for additions or alterations. What roofing systems have held up the best? What interior finishes are easy to repair, replace, or match? The facility management team knows the answers to these questions better than anyone.
The architect, contractor, even the construction manager may not look at the building envelope system the same as the facility staff. The perspective that the facility management team provides is important to the long-term successful use of the new facility. After all, they helped define success during the owner’s project requirements workshop in the pre-design phase.
A simple way to illustrate this point is to consider what is necessary to keep the warranties in place during the operation phase of commissioning. For example, some roofing systems have very specific requirements for any repairs done to the roof — for example, that the roofer must be factory-certified, that only factory-approved materials can be used, that specialized equipment may be necessary, and that a factory inspection could be required. The facility staff will have the opportunity to point out how these restrictions hinder their ability to do their jobs during the owner’s project requirements workshop. And unless the facility staff is made aware of these requirements, the guarantee on the brand new roof could be accidentally voided.
Building Envelope Commissioning: What Could Go Wrong?