Collaboration Among Designers, Operators Silences Skepticism
Few maintenance and engineering managers get invited to participate in design meetings before an organization tackles a new construction project or major renovation, and their staffs rarely do, either.
For managers, engineers, and technicians who do take part in the design phase, it is important to keep an open mind and listen to the ideas of everyone in the room. An open mind is especially important when the project includes green technologies because many of these products lack the performance data of more traditional alternatives, creating uneasiness among facilities staff.
A couple months ago, I toured Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minn., and Markim Hall, a state-of-the-art facility that earned LEED-Platinum certification in fall 2009. After the tour, I spoke with the college’s mechanical systems manager and asked him about his role in the LEED process, which included meeting with architects and facilities staff during design.
When operators heard about the technologies specified for the facility, they became skeptical — a common initial reaction from facilities professionals who prefer tried-and-true technologies. But the collaborative approach to design helped ease the minds of wary technicians.
“(The architects) explained the design and how it was going to work,” the manager said. “Of course, we were skeptical, but it did go a long ways in getting buy-in from the people that were going to be operating the building.”
While skepticism might be the first reaction for operators attending design meetings, this anecdote shows that keeping an open mind and asking the right questions is a savvy approach that can ensure a successful project.
Chris Matt offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.