Construction and Facility Solutions: Creating and Maintaining Warm, Dry & Safe Buildings
With tight budgets and competing priorities, many school districts are forced to operate under the age-old proverb, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The harsh reality of this approach is that reactive or emergency maintenance can cost a district far more than well-executed preventative maintenance.
A safe, secure, and comfortable learning environment is the foundation of a student’s educational experience. To help ensure your facilities meet these needs, here are a few considerations you should make when thinking about keeping your facilities warm, dry, and safe:
Keeping your facility warm starts with ensuring that the temperature and humidity control measures are working as designed. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have evolved from the large inefficient boiler and forced air systems to far more efficient but often complex variable refrigerant flow systems, packaged rooftop units, or mini-split systems. Regardless of the system in use, a lapse in maintenance can cause unscheduled shutdowns, costly repairs, or even the closure of your facility. With today’s modern supply chain challenges, procuring replacement parts can take weeks or months. The best way to counter these challenges is to inspect and maintain your equipment. We recommend quarterly inspections of these critical pieces of equipment by skilled licensed technicians, in addition to the standard monthly maintenance of changing filters, cleaning, and inspection. It is also important to acknowledge that these mechanical systems have standard expected lifespans. Identifying aging equipment and beginning to plan the replacement of these systems years in advance allows you to ensure funding is secured, that the replacement equipment can be procured, and that the proper design considerations are evaluated to provide the best value for your facility and district.
Water is the number one enemy of every building. With enough time and deferred maintenance, water will find its way into your facility. Keeping a space dry starts with a good design to manage and control the flow of water. Roofing systems are often the first place we start when conducting our facility assessments, as minor damage to a membrane system can cause thousands of dollars in damage in a very short time. In addition to roof systems, poorly executed or maintained sealants and flashing can wreak havoc on your building envelope. These issues often go undetected for years as failures take a long time to manifest as efflorescence or staining in masonry, bubbling in paint, or mold growth on gypsum. Scheduling time to thoroughly inspect these areas annually can save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs.
Keeping students safe is often top of mind for parents, school administrators, and resource officers. A safe environment to learn, work, and play requires a multi-tiered system that includes secured entry vestibules, full coverage CCTV security systems, and well-designed and installed vehicular protection. The past few years have also highlighted the need for proper air quality in our buildings. The HVAC industry has made great strides in developing needlepoint bi-polar Ionization and ultraviolet air purification, ensuring your students and staff stay healthy with fresh air to breathe.
Deferred maintenance in your facilities can lead to many problems, from compromised school safety, to exorbitant repair or replacement costs, and even to school closings. The industry best practices for building maintenance begins with a comprehensive inspection and review of your facilities by trained industry professionals.
If you’re considering building a new school facility, consider the benefits of the integrated project delivery process (IPDP). If you’re unfamiliar with the IPDP, it brings architects and contractors together during the design and construction stages. This process helps ensure the design provides the optimal solution for your needs, leveraging each dollar to enhance the performance and aesthetic of your buildings.
To recap, it’s never too late to assess the overall health of your building. In addition to identifying and correcting a myriad of maintenance items, a thorough building audit can help you:
- Identify critical elements of your facility reaching the end of their expected useful life cycles. Allowing you to plan proactively to replace these systems before they fail.
- It can help you create an economical preventative maintenance plan for your facility’s HVAC system to keep it running consistently and efficiently for many years.
- Assess the overall health of your building envelope to ensure small maintenance items aren’t creating often hidden long-term issues.
Consulting a professional for a full-building audit can help you plan for and prevent problems before they interrupt your district’s operations. You leverage the knowledge and expertise of industry experts who understand design, building, and construction from the ground up. Proactive assessments can help your district allocate resources in advance of a disaster as well as budget for regular, affordable fixes. A professional building audit and preventative maintenance plan can help ensure a warm, safe, and dry facility that will provide a comfortable learning environment for students and staff to perform at their best. Invest today for a brighter tomorrow.