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The Handoff Between A Newly Constructed Building and Building Operations
How Not To Fumble
One reason a building may
not perform as well as it should is often
related to how the newly constructed structure was “handed off” to
building operations. A poor transition process may mean the building
operations get off to a bad start and never fully recover or only
catch-up after much effort. Design and construction phases for a new
building have structured processes, and the handoff activities from new
construction to operations are addressed in the project specifications.
Despite the clear requirements and acknowledgement of close out
activities, the transition or handover is often undervalued,
misunderstood and overlooked.
the critical elements of the “handover” pertain to the building
systems and the relevant data or information regarding the design and
construction of the building. However, these are not the only concerns
and activities in the move to building operation. Prior to the turnover
the building owner will need to determine staffing for maintenance and
operations, and then assign and train the staff. Prior to occupancy the
owner will also oftentimes be involved with the furniture and
equipment, warranties, correction periods, record documents, spare
parts, extra materials and specialized operating tools.
Addressing this transition from construction to operations, specifically regarding the building systems and data will improve the initial and long term operational performance, in turn saving money and increasing the value of the building. Here are some tips on how to avoid fumbling the ball:
Install some of the facility
applications relatively early in the construction process. Don’t
typical thing and wait until the end of construction. Using software
tools, such as system analytics, will assist in commissioning and
start-up and installing them earlier in the process facilitates a
longer time period for testing the tools and staff training. This
initiative is consistent with a larger issue in that technology and
specifically some form of an IT network should be in a building under
construction earlier as well. For example, if you’re installing BAS
network controllers that directly connect to an IT network, the IT
network has to be installed or you can’t fully test the system. Some of
the IT components (servers, firewalls, etc.) may be in the “cloud”
while the building is being constructed, and then later brought into
the general contractor or sub-contractors
operate the building for a short time, and then transfer operations to
the owner. While this model has generally been used on larger
infrastructure projects the beauty of this approach is the incentives
it provides the construction contractor to get the building operations
right. The contractor has “skin in the game”. While this approach still
involves an eventual handoff to the owner, the likelihood of a
“cleaner” handoff is often much improved.
Insist on the use of BIM during the design and construction. Generally the transfer of data from the design and construction processes into a facility management system is inefficient and ineffective. Most of it is paper handed over in three-ring binders and boxes, supplemented with CDs of drawings and specifications. Lost in this handoff is data and information that could improve the management and operation of the building. Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows for the design and construction data and information to be transferred electronically.
most value that operational personnel can bring
to the table is their involvement in defining the requirements of
commissioning, system start-up and close out procedures. The
facility staff doesn’t replace the project’s commissioning agent or
take on the responsibilities of the contractor. However, it is the
commissioning, system start-up, demonstration of equipment operation
and load testing that are at the heart of close-out activities and the
turning over of the building systems. The facility staff’s involvement
in these processes is essential to a smooth transition.
the data, information and resource
materials needed to operate the building. Operating and
new facility requires data and information. The building owner, with
the participation of the design and construction teams, needs to define
the data and information required for efficient and effective operation
of the systems and related services during the facility design process.
These requirements will be part of the commissioning and close-out
activities as well. Typically a contractor provides the owner record
documents. These are O&M manuals, record submittals, shop drawings,
and record specifications and drawings. Whatever the requirements, they
need to be part of the contract documents for construction.
The expectations of contractor’s requirements must change from just installing equipment to completing and leaving their work in a condition for long term operations and support. Too many times contractors will install equipment, complete their deliverables and then reduce staffing and move on to the next job prior to completion of close-out activities. The result may be incomplete work or at the least, less than optimal involvement in close-out activities. Contract requirements and the mentality of the project team needs to be focused on the most important and costly part of the building’s lifecycle: long term operations and maintenance.
During the design and construction processes the focus is often on
schedules and budgets. And with that process taking a couple years,
building operations may seem far off and something that can be
addressed close to completion. Better “handoffs” and transitions
prescribe that we embed operations and maintenance into every aspect of
design and construction. For more information, write us at
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