Magazine article Health Facilities Management

A Deciding Role: ES Involvement in the Design and Construction Process

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

A Deciding Role: ES Involvement in the Design and Construction Process

Article excerpt

A month doesn't go by when a hospital or health system is not announcing a new construction project and the folks charged with maintaining these facilities are quoted as saying they weren't involved in the design and construction process.

What is missing from these scenarios are proactive, sustainable measures being implemented by environmental services (ES) professionals to mitigate budgetary deficiencies and additions to facility maintenance.

According to the U.S. Army's Military Construction program, construction projects of 750,000 square feet and larger take an average of four years from start to occupancy, including six to 12 months of planning, four to six months of design, and 12 to 18 months of construction. Moreover, it is estimated that 50 percent of all U.S. construction projects run 200 percent over budget in both dollars and time. The average cost of pre-project planning is 2.4 percent of the total. Thus, less than 3 percent of the total construction budget goes into preplanning.

As documented by the volume of reports and articles regarding these construction projects, it is incumbent upon ES professionals and the keepers of the environment to get more involved in the design and surface specifications process.

An ES professional is already preparing to fail if he or she says "they are breaking ground for a new facility, construction is slated to begin in a month and we will take it over in about 18 months" or "we were not involved in the design and construction of a project and we found many problems when it was turned over to us."

Starting with flooring

ES professionals need to assert themselves as subject matter experts and the knowledgeable keepers of the environment. They need to become experts on surface types, standards, product-life expectancies and, most importantly, how the buildings will be maintained and at what cost.

One place to start is by looking at life expectancies of flooring surfaces. The chart on Page 45 uses data from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI). Although it is for residential and not commercial products, it still can translate to commercial use for illustration purposes.

The highlighted flooring types are commonly used in health care construction. Even a quick glance shows that health care facilities select and install products with the shortest life expectancy. Then, they are amazed that they cannot support them years after installation.

If one postulates that the life expectancy of any flooring material is 75 percent of the manufacturer's estimated product life, health care facilities are installing materials that will fail in a minimum of six years in the case of carpet, and a maximum of 20 years in the case of hard flooring.

Assuming that daily maintenance of a hard-surface corridor (whether it is vinyl composition tile or stone materials) is similar and, therefore, provides no significant savings over time from one hard flooring type to another, one can then look at maintenance costs over the 20-year life expectancy for hard-surface flooring.

For this example, it will be assumed that annual maintenance of hard surface corridors includes both scrubbing and refinishing (SCR) and stripping and finish (STF). SCR includes dry mopping with a

24-inch mop, applying and agitating the scrubbing solution, picking up the solution with a wet vacuum, rinsing with a large mop and applying two coats of finish. STF includes dry mopping with a 24-inch mop, prepping the baseboards, applying and agitating the stripping solution, picking up the stripping solution with a wet vacuum, rinsing with a large mop and applying two coats of finish.

Utilizing the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) time standards for each task, the time requirements for SCR would be approximately 2.36 hours per 1,000 square feet per project; and the time requirements for STF would be approximately 3. …

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