This month in ES, you can read about a public school system in Massachusetts that is investing in its occupants and its new high school by doing something the majority of schools nationwide are not doing: providing proactive facility management using today's technology. I hope this is the beginning of a trend that will displace antiquated requirements for simply delivering O&M manuals to an owner at the end of a construction project. Building management needs to be the recipient of the right tools to do the right job on day one of owner occupancy.

Hit The Books

To quote Paul Szymanski, North Andover School System's director of management support services, "We want the children to leave school at the end of the day having had a positive experience that day."

Poor IAQ and hot and cold complaints, to mention just two issues, are chronic O&M problems that are historically associated with reactive facility management. Receipt of O&M manuals doesn't improve space comfort if the information within these documents, as well as other pertinent information, isn't transferred seamlessly into day-to-day building management agenda.

Reactive management can quickly turn into crisis building management when standard construction documents omit the needed tools to efficiently and effectively maintain the building systems on the day of owner occupancy. It is not unusual to hear of a sick building that may have been up and operating for only a few years. The same can be said for other buildings with space comfort that have progressively gotten worse with time. Often, the problem can be traced back to inadequate maintenance procedures.

Going On-Line And Online

In the first quarter of 2003, I addressed my concerns and solutions about this dilemma in this column. The core problem is that we within the design community continue to specify closeout documents that don't embrace the use of today's maintenance management business tools. More specifically, we need CMMS data to be turned over to the building owner prior to owner occupancy.

At North Andover High School, this barrier has been broken through recognition that a $58 million construction project should not be completed with only stacks of paper on how to operate and maintain mechanical and electrical equipment. Instead, school personnel have chosen to go on-line with their O&M process. It is this detail that separates this project from all those other huge construction projects.

In 2004, ES and I hope to see the design community begin to specify CMMS-ready databases over the antiquated three-ring binder format from the 20th century. I also hope to not have to listen to those "penny wise and pound foolish" individuals who suggest today's technology is an additional cost. Remember when we transcended the as-built mindset that CAD was an additional cost about 20 years ago? When was the last time you saw a complete, pneumatic control system for your building automation project? Building automation today is inherently computerized. We are long overdue for computer-aided O&M management. The last bastion for paper documents is the O&M manual! So this year, let's start specifying CMMS-ready O&M database.

Where I work, we have begun the transition, and it isn't easy. Change is always hard to accept, especially if you and your consulting engineering firm have been around a long time. The same can be said for facility managers who have been forced to adapt, over the years, to O&M manuals that were inadequate and/or delivered too late to get an early start on efficiently and effectively operating and maintaining building systems. Builders are not immune to this constructive criticism, either, as they continue to deliver O&M manuals at the job's end, doing little to changing the process in the owner's best interest.

Construction Criticism

There is light at the end of the tunnel, as one construction management firm in Boston is providing a three-year warranty on projects they build. Their next step is to make this warranty more proactive with CMMS-ready projects. What this industry needs in 2004 is more forward-thinking design firms and construction firms, so that owners will be able to exclaim, "my project is CMMS ready."

Read Robert Beverly's note this month to learn more about our challenge to all you building owners, architects, engineers, general contractors, construction managers, and design-builders. If you have required and/or provided a CMMS-ready system on or before day one of owner occupancy, let us know by highlighting a few of the job specific details via e-mail, and we will post your project on the ES website. We will also send you an ES gift in honor of your project's CMMS readiness. ES