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The Disconnect Between Maintenance and Design
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Here’s a concept that works: Listen to the people responsible for maintenance of a new institutional or commercial facility during the planning and design process for that facility.
For years, maintenance and engineering managers have preached this message to anyone involved in building design who would listen. Unfortunately, too many architects, engineering firms, and CEOs haven’t listened. The results have been predictable — and costly. Building envelopes crumble, roofs leak, and HVAC systems fail to keep occupants comfortable and waste energy and money while doing so.
Managers don’t need a government report to prove a disconnect exists. But they have one. A new U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) report documents the impact on 78 federal facilities of failing to account for operations and maintenance (O&M) during facility planning and design. The findings:
The good. Some building design choices — increased natural light, durable and easily maintained materials and finishes, and low-maintenance landscaping, among them — actually decrease O&M costs.
The bad. Many design choices increase O&M costs. They include inefficiently located mechanical systems, hard-to-reach lights, and tough-to-maintain materials and finishes.
The answer. Per the GAO’s recommendations, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) should be required to estimate O&M costs of design choices during planning, get input from building managers on the O&M impact of these choices, and share data on the impact on O&M costs of common design choices.
Managers who want ammunition to build the case for a greater role in design and planning can read the full report at https://goo.gl/wCQNhH.