Probably a year before 9/11, I was asked my thoughts along the lines of, “What else should we commission beyond the standard building systems?” My client was the project engineer at the Department of Defense in the Pentagon. I suggested “commission project record drawings.” I guess you could say I made up the task of commissioning record drawings, but I got my point across.

My thought was that the construction CAD should include specific facility management CAD layers within the Pentagon’s Wedge 1 contract document. I suggested, at a minimum, including the top 10 useful O&M CAD layers, and in particular, I proposed a layer showing all the emergency shutoff valves.

On that horrific day, I watched on TV live coverage of Wedge 1. Days later, as I walked the site with my client, he said to me that after the plane had hit and severed some of the primary fire protection mains, the emergency response team was able to isolate those sprinkler mains so that water pressure was not lost. He said if we had not known where the shutoff valves were, maybe the entire Pentagon structure would have gone up in flames.

Well, today we have an international infection control problem that takes more lives each year than on that one terrible day in September 2001. So why aren’t there standard infection control CAD layer requirements being implemented for institutional owners such as hospitals, colleges and universities, and other facilities where people come and go every day?

Since ES has begun publishing Dr. Stephanie Taylor’s “IAQ: A Physician’s View,” Dr. Taylor has highlighted issues and concerns pertaining to IAQ and potential for infection within buildings. At her encouragement, I have dusted off my June 1995 ES magazine article “Computer-Aided Drafting — A Business Management Software” and redirected my CAD layering thoughts to Dr. Taylor’s ICCAD (infection control computer-aided documents) suggestion.

Many people think of infection control as a problem associated with health care, but hospital-acquired infections are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about the major infections, viruses, and all those other nasty bugs that have proven to be deadly to people around the world in recent years (e.g., Ebola) and then ask yourself, “how can CAD help building managers do a better job on a daily basis to prevent an infection from spreading throughout any type of building?” 

Some will tell you they can’t afford to implement an ICCAD managed infection control process, and others will boast that they have a great environment, health, and safety group taking care of the problem so ICCAD monitoring isn’t necessary. 

In an interview regarding IC with the head of infection control at a major hospital, he said he didn’t have an ICCAD process but the hospital did have IC management software to be proactive at protecting the employees, patients, and visitors. He attempted to show how the software worked, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to open the program to demonstrate it. He did say that there was someone in his department responsible for the managing of this program. I guess an ICCAD concept wouldn’t work for this health care facility, but if just one facility were to request ICCAD layers on their next construction project or enhanced their existing computer generated building drawings to assist in day-to-day IC management, it could be the beginning of a better IC management process.

So what would you want your ICCAD layers to address that would emphasize special, scheduled IC attention? Some ideas:


1. Importance of air pressure, air changes, and direction of flow

2. Critical negative pressure, 100% exhaust spaces

3. Isolation room locations

4. Location of handwashing sinks

5. Location of disposal receptacles (e.g., gloves, swabs, etc.)

6. Beds adjacent to public corridors (versus beds located as far away from door entrance)

7. Meal delivery route to patient rooms

8. Designated clean corridors

9. Touch surfaces of concern

10. Location of dirty storage rooms


In closing, you may say that these 10 suggestions are part of the design team’s responsibility, but how often do these decisions get documented in a manner where the IC design intent will be a sustainable success years later? ES