The Facility Manager’s Best FriendPosted on April 6th, 2018
The job of facility manager gets more difficult by the day with societal changes, privacy issues, environmental mandates, increased security needs, new rules and regulations and on-and-on. If that’s not enough, there’s the never-ending challenge of controlling costs. Since a majority of a buildings energy costs and most maintenance expenses go to HVAC, a full-service mechanical/HVAC contractor is positioned to make the facility manager’s job easier and make him or her look like a superstar.
Managing a facility requires keeping everything running. Many HVAC contractors can, of course, provide regular maintenance services and 24/7 emergency services on boilers, heaters, chillers, etc. However, there is much more to facility management than just maintaining equipment.
A facility manager also needs to make plans to replace, upgrade and modernize HVAC and other systems in order to increase reliability while minimizing energy use and costs. Unfortunately, mechanical systems, building usage, occupancy and many external factors aren’t static. This is where a full-service contractor can be invaluable to the facility manager.
The first step in any planning effort is to know the status of things. This includes knowing the state of HVAC and hydronic systems, building controls, occupant comfort, overall building performance, etc. The next step is documenting the status and creating a plan that best meets the goals for the facility.
Such plans often include HVAC testing, adjustment and balancing (TAB), existing building commissioning (RCx), building controls modifications or major system upgrades. Full-service contractors will have certified TAB and commissioning experts backed up by experienced teams of engineers and other professionals.
Testing, adjustment and balancing (TAB) not only checks the performance of HVAC or hydronic system but ensures the heat and/or air conditioning are getting to the proper spaces. Testing is the use of calibrated instruments to measure temperatures, pressures, rotational speeds, electrical characteristics, velocities and air and hydronic flow quantities. Adjusting is the final setting of various adjustment devices such as dampers, valves, thermostats and fan speeds controls. Balancing is the methodical proportioning of air and hydronic flows through system mains, branches, and terminal devices to within testing and design limitations.
Existing building commissioning (RCx), building is the assessment of a building’s equipment and systems performance and the return of the building’s performance to its original design condition. Also called “retro-commissioning”, RCx considers the performance of the entire building (e.g. including energy losses) unlike energy audits which are limited to equipment performance.
Complete Building Services
Full-service mechanical/HVAC contractors can complement or assume responsibility for many of the duties of a facility manager, including:
- Supplying complete mechanical, electrical, plumbing and emergency services and energy solutions,
- Creating documentation, images and facility-critical information for facility management,
- Employing Building Information Modeling (BIM) for systems and facilities,
- Planning of preventive maintenance, including managerial and technical support, cost-effective upgrades and energy efficiency measures,
- Supporting the facility management team organization and operations,
- Capturing, analyzing and reporting facility-data to improve operational assessments, identifying cost-saving measures and adding to the knowledge-base for the facility, and
- Assessing facility condition, identifying needs or issues with systems, structure and property and providing appropriate remediation recommendations.
Terms such as “Distributed Energy Resources (DER)”, “microgrid” and “nanogrid”, “thermal energy storage”, “load-shifting”, “Demand-Side Management (DSM)” and “flow batteries” should not only be in a facility manager’s vocabulary but should also be evaluated for inclusion in a facility’s energy plan.
Full-service mechanical/HVAC contractors live this language and work with these technologies every day. Larger contractors can also offer additional options such as energy supply, advanced project delivery and power purchase contracts and special financing and project arrangements.
ENGIE MEP is a facility manager’s best friend. As part of ENGIE North America, it offers the broadest range of services and options for facility managers available in the Northeast.