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Improving New Building Efficiency, Economy and Delivery Begins With Owners

Posted on : Mon, April 13, 2015

Beyond Bonds and BuildingsUnderstanding current new building operational trends will help facility managers and building owners create new and improved building operational trends, according to Greg Lookabaugh, senior manager of facility planning, Harris County Department of Education, who recently presented a workshop at an all-day TASBO Bonds, Buildings and Beyond program. He says the following trends need to change: buildings with comfort issues, excessive energy use, mold and indoor air quality, leaking roofs and windows, insufficient maintenance staff training, and lack of building awareness training for building occupants.

Lookabaugh recommends setting some new trends in facilities, by first establishing that the facility / building owner is the one who must require optimal performance requirements in new facilities. The architects /engineers are responsible for design and informing the owner if contractors do not employ appropriate construction means and methods. However, design Means and Methods are not building construction means and methods, and architects do not control or take charge of construction means and methods. Contractors hold their own physical means and methods of construction. But it is the owner and the owner’s representative who must take responsibility to ensure that the facility is built to maximize maintenance and operations.

“We need to stop building new buildings that already have deferred maintenance issues,” said Lookabaugh, who is certified as a Quality Control Commissioning Process Provider (QxCP).

Lookabaugh suggests four steps to reset trends to ensure efficiency and economy of building operations:

  • Ensure positive working relationships with contractors, including architects and engineers, construction contractors, materials testing and financial agencies
  • Set and clearly communicate expectations for performance requirements in all contracts
  • Maintain a strategic communication plan through project completion
  • Ensure building quality meets expectations

“What if we thought beyond the typical design, bid, build to begin with the end in mind?”  Lookabaugh asked. “Can we reorder our thinking to reflect ‘beyond bonds and buildings’?”

Instead of just design, bid, build, Lookabaugh recommends incorporating a quality commissioning process to plan and ensure owner performance requirements (OPR) are met.

brickPlanning:   Begin the planning phase with your OPR and Qualified Commissioning Process
Design: Include the commissioning specifications developed for the building
Construction: Include submittal review, site visits, record drawing review, and operations and maintenance document review
Turnover: Training Review, Functional Testing, Commissioning Report
Operations: at periodic intervals conduct an existing building commissioning process, which includes identifying current facility requirements against the current operating condition. Create a plan, make changes, update manuals and train staff to bring the building condition up to required performance.

Quality commissioning processes at the start of new construction and then at periodic intervals thereafter will improve efficiency and economy of operations, and should extend the facility’s life cycle. Start by conducting an existing building commissioning process, then ensure your next new construction project includes operating performance requirements.

“Commissioning is another highly effective tool in the facility manager’s tool box,” said Les Hooper, HDCE executive director of facilities.  “You’re  wasting money by operating an inefficient facility.”

For more information, go to, or contact Lookabaugh at or 281-386-6042.



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