Facility Managers Should Demand Expertise from 'Experts'

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Facility Managers Should Demand Expertise from 'Experts'

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Not long ago, any time you got an X-ray, the doctor would pull out a big floppy rectangle of film. Now, there’s a good chance the doctor will call up the images on a computer screen. In the not too distant future, the old approach to X-rays will seem as antiquated as mercury thermometers.
On the scale of outdated technologies, I’d rate T12 lamps down there with mercury thermometers. What’s the equivalent of film X-rays? Maybe an HVAC or lighting system that merely meets the typical state energy code. And those systems are still being designed — all the time.
Although building technology isn’t changing as fast as medical systems, there have been significant advances in both products and design and construction practices. We expect doctors to keep up to date; shouldn’t the same be true of the experts facility executives hire to assist with the design and construction process?
The problem isn’t that some architects or engineers are stuck in the 1970s or 1980s with pneumatic controls or magnetic ballasts. Rather, the question is how much expertise they have with strategies that have entered the mainstream over the past decade or so. Firms with that expertise are the ones to look for, even if you don’t need, say,  a green design or an interoperable control system for a given project. Firms that have kept up with those developments may well have other suggestions that would benefit your project.
Of course, gaining that experience requires more than a little work on the part of the architect or engineer. One reason to put in that effort is fear of being left behind. By inquiring about high-efficiency HVAC options, or low-VOC paints, or the latest generation of fluorescent lamps, facility executives act as a kind of market signal. Your demands help create supply.

  • Risk of new technology and profit are scary to the people you elude to. In general those who make the most money drive the business. And they drive as slow and conservative as the profit allows.

    End users in general do not want to be first. If someone else has not done it they won't either.

    No one will spend any money for technology if there is a hint of government funding. Look at the government support for wind, solar, fuels, and the like. These are all things claimed to save money but not many will venture out to fund them on their own.

    Many times I have asked the question of how much government funding does a person need so they can buy something that will save them money.

    Codes? I have seen code used to cheapen many jobs and build to the minimum standard. You can hook your thumbs in your suspenders and say you built her to code or you can say your built to the minimum standard, no difference.

    And look at funding, percentages of capital expense and help for building or buying new; not a nickel for maintenance. Find three energy funded jobs near you that are 5 years old to see how they are doing. Guess what, if you buy another you can probably get funding for a new one too.

    We are in a rut because real energy conservation requires maintenance, intimate knowledge of a building's systems, and dedication at the equipment room level. Architects, engineers, and even mechanical service companies can't make money there. It is left to the few leaders and one man bands who take the time to subscribe to forums like this; the nuts and bolts guys in the field who go through the "buy something knew, let it deteriorate, buy something new again" year after year.

    If you read this far and are nodding your head you probably run an underfunded maintenance department like I did for my first 38 years in the business.

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