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Dan Hounsell Editorial: Facility Safety, With a Focus on Facades
It’s easy to understand the allure of new technology among people involved with institutional and commercial facilities. Building owners looking to make facilities as energy-efficient and appealing as possible push for the latest advances in HVAC and lighting systems. Occupants seeking efficiency and safety look for workplaces with the newest wireless communication and security technologies.
Maintenance and engineering managers don’t have the luxury of such narrow focus. Given their responsibility for the entire spectrum of facility systems and components, managers have to pay close attention to each and every facility component. This includes one that is decidedly unsexy: the building facade.
Facades offer protection from the weather, but they also are essential for maximizing energy efficiency. Facades, along with windows and doors, that are properly specified, installed and maintained ensure facilities don’t leak away the organization’s investment in energy.
Unfortunately, too many organizations have lost track of facade condition, sometimes resulting in safety hazards from falling debris. As a result, cities are forcing building owners to address the issue.
In April, Cleveland became the latest major city to enact an ordinance mandating facade inspections for facilities. The list of cities with such ordinances includes Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis, according to facadeordinance.com. Cleveland building owners must have facades of buildings that are at least 50 years old inspected and a report filed with the city within one year. Buildings 30-50 years old must do so within two years.
Organizations now forced to fund inspections would have been wiser to give managers the funds they asked for originally to maintain facades properly. Whatever the reason for the renewed attention on facilities, additional resources for the maintenance mission are always welcome.