Building Plans Foundation for Facility Stability & Safety

Building Plans  Foundation for Facility Stability & Safety

Building Plans
Foundation for Facility Stability & Safety

Studying an organization’s building plans is one of the best ways to trace the many phases, renovations and additions made to buildings over the years while reflecting everyone who has worked in, around, and outside the building.

When you’re looking at buildings more than 50 years old, such as hospitals, schools, and universities, there are many factors that contribute to building changes, including budgets, fluctuations in building occupancy, and ideas about design and construction.

What was considered state-of-the-art in the 1950s no longer makes sense for today. For example, school districts with separate elementary schools, middle schools, and high school buildings are impractical for several reasons. The elementary schools are too small for middle school kids, so they have limited usefulness. Some districts are looking at K-8 schools housed in bigger buildings for more flexibility.

The average age of a main instructional school building is 49 years, according to survey findings released by the National Center for Education Statistics. Some 38% of these facilities were built even earlier — before 1970.

A major building renovation was undertaken by fewer than half of the schools surveyed, with respondents saying it had been an average of 14 years since their last one. Additionally, the average time since their last major replacement or addition was 15 years.

Just about a third of all schools reported having never had any major renovations, replacements, or additions, NCES found in a survey of 1,625 public schools.

America’s hospital infrastructure also must be prepared to function under a daunting array of circumstances. From routine care and medical emergencies to pandemics and natural disasters, hospitals must operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Nearly one-third of rural hospitals reported an average age of plant of 15 years or older, according to the American Hospital Association.

As our buildings age and change, it’s critical to have blueprints that are easily accessible to show locations of shut-offs and other details to keep facilities running smoothly and safely.

With all these outdated buildings, costly leaks are gushing, too.

According to research by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), water leaks account for a substantial portion of building maintenance and repair costs, with estimates ranging from 10% to 25% of total facility expenditures annually.

According to FEMA, 25% of businesses close completely after a disaster like a flood or a fire. Larger enterprises tend to survive, but they feel the social and financial impact of fallout from an emergency event. Audits, damages, injuries, lawsuits, and public perception can have long-lasting effects on an organization.

Getting Schooled with Building Plans

Studying your facility’s building plans is one of the best ways to learn your facility’s history, renovations that have occurred over the years, and changes that impact preventive maintenance. Unfortunately, building plans are not always easy to locate. If they’re still in paper format, chances are they may be coffee stained, faded, frayed around the edges or someone has scribbled their own notes. If your building plans are digital, consider who is naming these documents, and whether there is consistency. Because buildings are always changing. Can you easily update your building plans with video or photos, and share changes with team members?

Safety is always a key element of building plans, according to Stan Szpytek, aka Stan the Fireman, President of Fire & Life Safety, Inc. (FLS).

“In certain types of healthcare facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and other in-patient operations, there are walls and doors that divide buildings into fire and smoke compartments. In these types of occupancies, you don’t typically evacuate buildings during fire emergencies. Instead, these facilities will shelter in place,” he said.
“Quick and easy access to building plans enables facility staff and first responders to easily identify the means of egress and location of emergency equipment like fire extinguishers as well as specific areas that have been designated as "shelter areas."

Mapping out different parts of the building gives your team the ability to delineate areas of refuge and eliminate unknowns for improved emergency responsiveness.

Brooke Bohm, the Director of Engineering for Children’s Hospital elaborated.

“The building plans are the key to the kingdom when trying to understand your building. They indicate where your smoke compartment walls are, which is crucial when developing emergency response plans,” she said. “Additionally, they provide insight into what equipment serves each floor or department, which is key to a quick response when there is an issue. Additionally, by studying building plans, you can also quickly identify your points of entry which may be considered a security risk, which is especially important for hospitals.

Shout Out to Shut-Offs

The number of shut-offs in a facility, including water, gas, and electrical shut-offs can vary significantly on factors such as the type of facility, its layout, the complexity of its systems and regulatory requirements.

In a large facility like a 1 million square foot industrial complex or a commercial building, there may be numerous shut-offs located throughout the premises. These shut-offs could be located at various points to control utilities, isolate specific sections of the facility or comply with safety regulations.

To determine the precise number of shut-offs for a particular facility, it’s essential to consult the facility’s blueprints, schematics or building plans and also consider factors such as the types of utilities (water, gas, electric, med gas) and the complexity of the infrastructure. Additionally, building codes and safety standards may influence the placement and number of shut-offs required. Consulting with a qualified engineer or facility manager familiar with the specific facility is advisable for an accurate assessment.

George Gallo, Associate Executive Director of Facilities at Lincoln Hospital at NYC Health + Hospitals, added that learning the construction technique used, specifications followed, and general information such as entry points of utilities can also be gleaned from studying building plans.

“It’s helpful to find design of HVAC as well,” he said.

Six benefits to having access to Building Plans via Mobile Devices

  • Enhanced Design and Layout Understanding: Quick availability of building plans empowers facility managers to swiftly grasp the building's layout and design, aiding in efficient space utilization and office design strategies.
  • Efficient Maintenance and Repairs: Mobile access to building plans simplifies the identification of system locations like electrical wiring and plumbing, facilitating prompt and effective maintenance and repairs.
  • Improved Safety Compliance: Immediate retrieval of safety feature information ensures swift compliance checks with regulations and standards, enhancing overall safety measures within the facility.
  • Streamlined Renovation Planning: Easy referencing of building plans provides architects, engineers, and contractors with immediate guidance, enabling informed decision-making during renovations and expansions.
  • Optimized Asset Management: Accessible building plans offer quick insights into asset locations and specifications, promoting efficient inventory management and tracking of equipment, furniture, and fixtures.
  • Seamless Communication and Collaboration: Availability of building plans fosters smooth communication and collaboration among stakeholders, including maintenance staff, contractors, IT, HR, and first responders, ensuring swift responses and coordinated efforts.

Accessing building plans from your mobile device offers many advantages, including the ability to update information, share changes with your team, add photos and video.

The ARC Facilities Building Plans module includes As-Builts List View, As-Builts Map View, Shut-Offs, Equipment – all accessible from your mobile device, easy to access remotely or on-site.

To find out how ARC Facilities can help you and your team collectively share the vital information you need to operate your facility, request a demo today or send an email to solutions@arcfacilities.com.

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