Sustainable Facilities: Ensuring Performance

  November 11, 2011

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, ensuring the performance of sustainable facilities.

When maintenance and engineering managers are involved in the process of designing, constructing, and operating a new facility, they usually have a great deal to learn along the way. But when the facility in question is pursuing sustainability goals, managers can expect a much more arduous learning process. Perhaps nobody understands that better than Jeff Schorzman, facilities manager with Providence Newberg (Ore.) Medical Center. He helped the 183,000-square-foot facility become the first hospital to earn Gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

Despite the advanced lighting and plumbing technologies Schorzman and his team specified as part of earning the certification, the medical center did not perform as designers intended during the first year of operation. One reason it struggled initially was that the project team tried to meet tight deadlines without sufficient vetting of building systems, Schorzman says.

"I know you get bumped up against schedules, but folks really need to incorporate into their schedules time to wash the systems out," he says. "We did commission the building, but we were pushed, and we were rushed. You really need to give yourself time to work through the issues."

Another cause of the facility's inefficient operations related to oversized equipment.

"Our steam system in the building was sized for humidification for the whole building 24/7, and our sterilization of surgical instrumentation 24/7/365," he says. "The majority of our surgeries are done Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The only areas that require humidification are the surgery areas, so (the system was) oversized."

Schorzman and his staff went through a great deal of trial and error during the first year of operation, but systems now perform as the project team intended. Power use is down 12 percent, compared to the first year, and gas use is down about 30 percent.


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