Jennifer Graham is the assistant editor of Facilities Manager and APPA's publications and marketing assistant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The planning, design, and construction processes are not ones to take lightly. Innumerable considerations must be made for all phases and aspects of erecting any type of building. In this issue's Listnotes column you will find some unique and some conventional topics relating to planning, design, or construction from the APPAinfo e-mail list. Whether these topics are new to you or not, this peer list always adds a new perspective, with practiced advice and the not-so-obvious answers that are sometimes overlooked.
Question: What standards are used to provide fire protection in art galleries? We have six galleries, one has a halon system, and the others have fire sprinklers or fire alarms. Under what circumstances would you choose one or the other, would you use a dry-pipe system in sprinkled areas?
- We protect all of our art galleries with wet pipe automatic sprinkler systems. Our one art storage vault is protected with a Halon system, but also has sprinklers. If you have occupants who are really worried about water, you should consider a pre-action sprinkler system rather than a dry-pipe system, but be prepared for intense routine maintenance. Pre-action is similar to dry-pipe but has an electronically controlled solenoid valve that doesn't allow water into the sprinkler piping until a heat (usually rate compensated) or smoke (usually cross zoned) detection system opens the valve. Even knocking off a sprinkler head will not cause water to flow.
Question: We have had some recent complaints because of the smell of smoke right outside building doors where the smokers congregate. In some areas the exit door is very near a fresh air intake. Does anyone have policies on outdoor smoking? Has anyone dealt with this issue before?
- At a previous campus, our HVAC group worked with Public Safety at identifying air intakes and designated them as no smoking areas. Anyone within 50 feet could be subject to...you know the routine. It was a highly publicized move: a lot of identification signage in these areas, good student paper coverage, and discussion in all forums, i.e., Faculty Senate and Administration. It was and still is a relatively successful venture, though some obstinate people still exist and push the envelope to test the waters.
- The University of Massachusetts, Amherst has a 20-foot rule from all doors or air intakes.
- We installed signs around entryway doors designating the area as smoke free and we also made "smoker friendly" areas away from the building and it seems to be working well.
Question: We are in the design stage of a major renovation to a 160-bed dormitory. One of the considerations is card access. We will utilize a monitored card access system at the main entrance to the building but would like to look into card access for each room. Are there any colleges using a card access system in this environment? If so, what manufacturers have been most successful?
- We had four residence halls with individual card access and we removed the locks and replaced them with standard keyed locks. We had some problems with the hardware that we had no patience for, but we also discovered some things. Most card access devices have been designed for hotel/motel applications. We found that residence room doors had far more operations than the typical hotel/motel room door and this is the critical factor in determining how long the locks will last. We had failures due to wear in as soon as 10 months. I agree that controlling access on exterior doors with remote card readers and electric locks/strikes is very effective, but I do not recommend the use of either stand-alone battery powered or hard wired card access locks on individual doors.
- UCF residences are using hard key access. The company is called InTell Key. The key has a memory chip. The units have been in place for about three and a half years with minor problems.
- In Auckland we use a system called Tecom Australia. We have just increased the database capacity to 65,000 and we could accommodate every door if we wished but probably will not do so-too expensive and also people should be responsible for their own office security. However we have card access in and out of all 35 major buildings with many internal rooms such as laboratories and computer suites also card accessed. They have a website for your info which is www.tecom.com.au.
Question: I am in the process of selecting an architect and engineering firm for a renovation project with a total cost of 1.5 million. What percentage range should I expect to pay the selected firm for this size project?
- APPA's Facilities Management Manual for Plant Administration provides sample fee guidelines (i.e., renovations for a $1.5 mil project could range anywhere from 5.9 to 7.4 percent; however, there are many variables such as project complexity, schedule, etc.)
- The issue of A/E fees has a lot of stickiness associated with it of late. We're seeing consultants arguing for additional fees for some services that our state construction agency says are basic and deserve no additional fee. Here are a couple quick answers.
1. Construction costs are all those costs that are covered by the lowest responsible contractor through a bidding process plus the change orders. So all general conditions, insurance, taxes, and so on. A construction manager's fee should be separate.
2. The A/E fee is based on what you negotiate. It has typically been based on the construction cost with change orders. I don't like that for a number of reasons. First, a sloppy A/E can get extra fee because change orders for errors (that the owner must cover) will give the A/E more fee. Why pay for sloppiness? Second, I've seen good A/Es return fee because they did a good job and the bids were low (they didn't get the additional 15 percent of fee for project oversight). That isn't a good way to treat a good consultant.
3. We have a recommended fee schedule that indicates a 5.71percent to 7.74 percent for a $5 million of construction. However, we must negotiate the fee regardless of the recommended range. See definitions and concerns above.
4. The sub-consultants included are the ones you negotiate. There are typically more in a large project. Finally, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. As for what you want and pay as little as you can. But beware that cheap A/Es may deliver bad service. Expensive A/Es don't always deliver the highest quality service. Check references.
Question: We are investigating the possibility of building a greenhouse. This will be used mostly for research by the Biology and Pharmacy Departments. I know that there are com- panies out there that specialize in building greenhouses. Who are the good ones? Please share your experiences with me.
- I am not a greenhouse specialist, but I did select and build the greenhouse for our university. I was fortunate in that we have a local greenhouse manufacturer with a product that is shipped nationally, a very good design, at a reasonable cost. The manufacturer is Conley's Manufacturing, 909- 627-0981. What I like about their design is that it is oriented towards commercial growers and is therefore well-designed, with quality materials. It was also relatively easy to build-we did it in-house. I did learn a lot about greenhouses in the process. The big issue to pursue in the early stages is how humidity and temperature can be regulated. This is where you will be spending some serious time and money. Good luck!
- Yavapai College is in the second phase of our Agribusiness Program development. We are just completing the construction on a 7200 sq. ft., totally automated greenhouse that includes a section for Aquaculture. The Greenhouse manufacturer is AgriTech, which a company called Hummert Industries supplied. Hummert Industries has been OK to work with. So far, we are pleased. If you would like further information contact program director John Morgan at 520- 713-2194.