College Planning & Management

AUG 2012

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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Facilities MANAGING ASSETS Facility Planning Versus O&M In an ideal world, O&M would have a seat at the facility planning table. BY PIETER VAN DER HAVE F ACILITY PLANNING IS A CRIT- ical team sport. If done correctly, it can result in a building that will need to serve its future users for a long time. A building designed for certain programmatic requirements today will endure certain revi- sions as old activities move out and new ones move in during its 50- to 100-year life cycle. I recently fi nished digesting a book on facilities planning. Perhaps the word "digesting" is overly optimistic — I am still chewing on it. The author has done an admirable job of dis- secting activities commonly recognized as essential processes associated with facilities planning. Relationships and geometry are explored to great depths. The dicey discussion of owner/user needs is comfortably included. The essence of human perspec- tive and scale is paid appropriate homage. Historical characteris- tics of various types of well-known structures are exposed to the reader in a way that is stimulating and eye-opening. Historical personalities such as Vitruvius, Aristotle, Descartes, van der Rohe, and Wright are discussed in terms of their contributions to the science (art?) of facilities planning and design. Nevertheless, something was lacking. The O&M Perspective I confess that my range of expertise does not comprehensively include broad-scale facility planning. Yet, I also have to admit that over the years I have dealt with virtually perpetual frustration with the lack of attention paid to the planning of operability and maintainability of the facility during its life cycle. I realize that planning and programming is done at the 40,000-ft. level. Yet, one also must recognize that long-term O&M of any facility is the third (or perhaps the fi rst) leg on a three-legged stool that cannot be ignored. For instance, thinking of relationships, where should the electrical vault or the chiller room be in relation to the loading dock? In fact, where should the loading dock be located and how big should it be? When the chiller needs to be replaced, what will be the options for removal of the old one and insertion of the new one? Where should the rooftop cooling tower (if one is needed) be in relation to the CEO's offi ce? For that matter, where should it be in relation to computer rooms? (Let's face it, at some point in time there is going to be a leak!) If the facility is located in a wintry climate, will the cooling tower be away from traffi c, yet accessible 14 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / AUGUST 2012 to maintenance technicians? Where should the fan rooms — with their fi lters and coils — be in relation to building occupants and elevators? Is there adequate storage and work space in mechanical and boiler rooms? Will maintenance staff need to haul supplies and tools through spaces where occupants are working? Is there a risk of damaging building elements as maintenance technicians move their "stuff" to utility rooms? Are chillers too close to spaces that must be relatively noise free, such as studios, classrooms, con- ference rooms, operating rooms, or auditoria? Is there adequate and dedicated space with shelving and storage, in convenient locations, for custodial closets? Or is there only one such space for multiple fl oors? How about adequate space and air conditioning for communications/IT closets? O&M Needs a Champion Building users and occupants tend to be unaware of all the support spaces and activities that exist in order for them to be able to do whatever they it is they do. That's okay, and possibly even preferable. Nevertheless, someone needs to champion those priorities. Smart planning allows O&M personnel to perform their essential functions in the most effi cient and effective manner with minimum disruption to building occupants. I had an acquaintance years ago who was a senior FM offi cer at a major university. As we were casually chatting over a bever- age of choice, I asked him how deeply involved he was in plan- ning, programming, design, and construction activities at his institution. He looked at me like I just spoke to him in Mandarin. After a pause that seemed long enough for me to get a haircut, he answered, "I don't get involved at all. I just wait for them to give me the keys to the new building. That way, I don't have to be responsible for whatever they designed." You can probably imagine my reaction! We must articulate the standards that need to be accommo- dated in every project. Most times, compromise is not an option. It is up to us to defi ne those requirements objectively and then communicate them to planners and designers. If there is a steering committee on the project, we need to sell our priorities at the earli- est of stages. The buck stops with us for the next 50 years! CPM Pete van der Have is a retired facilities management professional and is currently teaching university-level FM classes as well as doing independent consulting. He can be reached at petevanderhave@msn.com. WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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