Green Strategies Include Early Use of Safety Experts, Installation Troubleshooting
Part 2 of a 4-part article from the U.S. Green Building Council
Additional tricks of the trade in using green strategies include getting safety experts involved early, troubleshooting installation issues early, and ensuring that important instructions are carefully followed.
6. Price is not the same as cost. Too many people in this industry fail to consider all costs associated with a specification or product purchase. A good example of this truism is air filters. If you spend $100 on inexpensive pre-filters, the energy costs of pushing air through these filters can range from $400 to $700 a year. But, if you used a high-quality, energy-efficient air filter at twice the price ($200), you could cut your energy costs in half, pay for your filters, and still save money.
7. Get your fire and life safety experts involved early. Far too often projects go through concept, programming, and sometimes schematic design without having the fire and life safety experts on board to review the plans. Design issues identified at this late stage are expensive for the architect and the client because it typically requires reworking the floor plan or the program layout. Early engagement can be as simple as a few concept meetings to look at egress plans, existing conditions, occupancy concerns, effects of multiple codes of record on the project, and separation. Considering, especially, how aspects of green building complement (or, in some cases, are detriments to) fire and life safety planning is crucial.
8. Never forget that you are responsible for people’s lives. Don’t let the focus on green strategies distract you from some basic principles. For example, be aggressive when it comes to managing fire and smoke barriers — set up a barrier management protocol (BMP) with a standard operating practice for permitting anyone entering a fire and smoke barrier. Your BMP should document all barriers and penetrations, report deficiencies and ensure quality control throughout closeout inspections. Ideally, this system will identify other elements in the barriers, such as dampers, doors, and extinguishers. The BMP should track who, what, when, where; and how installations, maintenance, and inspections in each barrier are being performed.
9. Do not create problems for yourself. Here’s another basic principle. Suppose a green building project is running late. In an attempt to get back on schedule, flooring subcontractors are pushed to install floor coverings before the building is climate controlled. All moisture testing is unreliable without proper jobsite conditions, which is a major issue for all resilient floor-covering products. Problems caused by premature installation typically do not occur until after the owner has accepted the project, often forcing the owner to pay twice for this mistake. Identifying potential installation issues early in a project allows all parties to avoid costly problems.
10. Read and follow the instructions. This is another fundamental that is all the more important on a green project because expectations for green buildings are typically high. Case example: Verify that moisture testing on the concrete is done properly. Most technicians are not ICRI (International Concrete Repair Institute) certified. This certification covers the techniques for moisture testing per ASTM-F2170, The Standard Test Method for Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using In-situ Probes. Improper test procedure leads to disaster. If readings are higher than the actual moisture level, you may elect to have a moisture mitigation product applied to the concrete costing $3 to $9 a square foot. If the readings are lower than actual, you can install flooring that will be subject to a moisture-related failure in the future. This leads to costs associated with removal of the failed floor, moisture mitigation, installation of another floor, and the cost of business disruption.