green renovations

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, renovating for sustainability.
Renovations designed to improve an organization’s environmental friendliness are becoming more common as organizations realize the bottom line benefits they also can achieve with these projects. Often, early involvement by maintenance and engineering managers in planning the renovations improves the performance of the finished space.
The Blackstone Office renovation project at Harvard University offers insights into the challenges managers face in achieving these carrying out such renovations.
The $10 million, 40,000-square-foot renovation was completed in May 2006. Jeffrey Smith, Harvard’s director of facilities maintenance operations, and those involved with the Blackstone project believe they have created a template for future green building at Harvard.
Because the project was the first of its kind at Harvard, Blackstone endured the expected amount of problems for a project of its size, Smith says.
Tony Ragucci, associate director of maintenance services and an in-house commissioning agent, says he and his team went back to the contractor when it found things that weren’t constructed or installed according to specifications. Ragucci said about 100-150 items — both large and small — didn’t pass his team’s inspection.
For example, the piping system that brings in hot water to heat Blackstone runs from the adjacent steam plant into the building. But Ragucci wanted a specific type of piping that could convert to steam heat if the department decided to go that route in the future. When Ragucci realized the contractor was installing a water-specific piping system that wouldn’t support steam, he intervened.
The fact that Ragucci and his team caught the error before the building was completed illustrates the importance of having the facilities maintenance operations department involved in all stages of the project. That involvement, combined with a keen focus on sustainable design, has led Smith to believe Blackstone will be a template for green building at Harvard.
Says Smith, “We believe this is easily repeatable and scalable, that this is a model for how to do a sustainable building.”
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