From Our Blog
Edward J. Stewart, RRC, Senior Associate at Gale, contributed to an article titled: “The Building Envelope: A Guide To Determining Problems” in the November 2014 issue of College Management and Planning magazine. The following is an excerpt. To read the full article, click here.
“The more you know about the building’s history before you begin the investigation, the less intrusive the evaluation will be,” says Edward J. Stewart, RRC, senior associate of Weymouth, MA-based Gale Associates, Inc., which specializes in the repair, renovation and adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
Stewart recommends having the original design and construction documents, as well as a history of repairs and renovations, which reduces invasive testing and also ensures that future repairs and renovations are made with products the same as or as close to the original as possible to ensure the same performance characteristics.
“Compiling these documents gives you a solid understanding of the as-built construction and tells where there may be potential problems,” Stewart says. “It’s not always possible, though. That’s when it becomes a guessing game as to what the underlying conditions are.”
This recent article published in the Journal of the National Institute of Building Sciences contains helpful information (especially for our institutional clients). As a number of recent events have reminded us, disasters come in all forms and formats. Whether these disasters are natural or man-made, it is within our collective ability to limit the devastating effects of these events, shorten recovery time for communities and lessen the burdens they face. To read “Healthcare Facilities: Lessons Learned after Hurricane Sandy,” click here and go to page 12.
Funding for public athletic facility projects has changed dramatically in the last decade. The days where a municipality could go to a town meeting and seek an override approval for 100%, or float a bond for 100%, of an athletic facilities project are essentially over. The fiscal reality is that municipalities have been forced to consider steep financial cuts to schools and public safety services (police and fire). The “extras,” such as athletic facility enhancements, have, out of necessity, taken a back seat.
Although traditional funding is not readily available, the demand for public athletic and recreation facility enhancements has actually risen. This is due to continued population growth in urban areas, enhanced diversity of sports, and increased gender equity in sports. Municipalities are now compelled to find “out of the box” ways to meet this growing demand, and the solution begins with creative funding. To be successful in raising the funds for an athletic or recreation project, the municipal or non-profit Owner should assemble a fundraising group that considers the following options concurrently:
- Public and private grants
- Private funding
- Sponsorship (naming rights)
- Public and private partnerships
- Donor in-kind goods and services
- Developer off-site mitigation
- Utility Leases
- Professional fundraisers
To read the entire article, click here.
The successful performance of exterior building enclosures assemblies can be attributed to the planning implemented during the initial phases of the design process, and requires the combined efforts of the owner, enclosure commissioning consultant, design team, and contractors. Building enclosure commissioning (BECx) can help avoid common issues in building construction, such as water intrusion and air infiltration, which can lead to indoor air quality issues, mold growth, and energy loss. BECx services are a small fraction of the overall construction costs, and even smaller when considered in relation to the cost of repairs.
Click here to read the full article written by Gale’s Edward J. Stewart, RRC, published in the October 17-23 issue of the New England Real Estate Journal
Facility managers are being required to manage more buildings with less staff and budget than ever before. With many buildings to oversee, and less personnel available to stay current, it has become critical to develop organized methods for tracking past, current, and future building repairs. Facility managers are required to keep careful track of detailed repair histories and recommended repairs, while managing current and projected costs. A formal roof management plan (RMP) can assist in the day-to-day operations and long-term planning.
The purpose of a well-defined RMP is to establish current and long-term budgeting for roof repairs/replacement. Facility managers are often expected to estimate the type, and more importantly, the cost of repairs necessary not only for the next year, but often for the next five to ten years. They seldom have the resources necessary to evaluate their roofs on a yearly basis so are forced to make educated guesses regarding the types of repair or replacements needed, based on the roofs’ history and age.
Estimating roof repair and replacement costs using warranties and expected roof service life can be ineffective since roofs fail for various reasons including the material/system designed and installed, amount of traffic or mechanical equipment maintenance on the roof, and weather conditions. It cannot be assumed that a five-year-old roof won’t need maintenance or repairs for another fifteen years. The best way to track and predict roof system performance is with a well-organized RMP that consists of the following components:
- Building histories are used as a background for the report and include the name, use, and age of the building; type of roof system; and repair history. Knowing the roof’s history is invaluable in understanding its current condition and in anticipating potential repairs/ replacement needs.
- Roof warranty information is critical for making claims on roof failures and, in some instances, scheduling maintenance checks by the manufacturer’s representatives. This information must be provided by the facility manager and can be included as an appendix within the report for easy reference.
- On-site visual evaluations are necessary because the condition of roofs cannot be determined without a visual observation of the membrane, seams, flashings, transitions, and associated components, such as potential moisture intrusion concerns at rising walls. Copies of the existing roof area plans should be used if available. A detailed plan that notes penetrations, parapets, drains, etc. is used to note defects observed and is included within the report. It is best to develop a simple number key for noting common defects that can be referenced when reviewing the report.
- Non-destructive testing (infra-red thermography) can be used to note areas of trapped moisture within the roof assembly. The amount of moisture in the roof system can help a facility professional to determine if the roof can be repaired or if it should be replaced.
- Destructive testing (roof cuts) will verify trapped moisture and confirm the as-built construction. Test cuts can be helpful in validating energy code requirements based on insulation type and thickness.
Not all of the above steps are critical to determine the conditions of various roof systems. Based on the size and complexity of a roof, a simple visual evaluation may be all that is necessary. It also depends on the particular needs of the facility manager.
Determining Priorities. Once the field evaluations (and testing) have been performed, a priority list of recommendations is developed. Facility managers responsible for large campuses most likely cannot perform all recommendations in one year. The intent of a roof management plan is to determine which roofs are the priorities. For example, if a hospital has two roofs that leak and are in equally poor condition, the roof that is above Patient Recovery would be a priority over a less critical care area.
Developing the Report. The condition of each roof is summarized and placed in a three-ring binder so materials can be easily updated or added. Campus plans and photographs of various defect conditions are included. Spreadsheets that display priority repair/replacement recommendations for budgeting purposes, as well as a budget matrix are also included. This provides the facility manager with an easy reference guide that can be reviewed when planning the fiscal budget.
Recent tragedies have led to a growing demand for increased safety measures in building design, especially in schools. A large number of schools in the United States were built before 1985, when security design was not emphasized. In addition to implementing training for emergency response, many modern-day school administrators have initiated such preventive measures as controlling building access and providing additional means for emergency egress. In fact, since the late 1990s, building and school ground access control measures during school hours have increased more than 17 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Many schools also are implementing faculty identification badges, video monitoring and telephones in classrooms.
Although fenestrations (e.g., windows, doors, louvers, vents, etc.) are the most vulnerable components of a building enclosure (and, thus, highly susceptible to unauthorized access), school designs are incorporating increasing amounts of glass and windows due to the positive benefits of natural light. Although vulnerable, certain design concepts can be implemented to help secure fenestrations, either as new construction or renovation programs. These provisions will improve students’ ability to enjoy the benefits of natural light, without compromising building security.
Click here and turn to page 26 read the full article by Gale Project Manager, Steven R. Marshall, RRC, LEED AP.
It is no secret that the lack of prime buildable land has encouraged real estate developers to be “extra creative” when planning new construction and redevelopment projects in recent years. Challenging site constraints such as topography, soil conditions, environmental resource areas, and zoning setbacks have forced a game of give and take when it comes to a building’s footprint, parking, accessible routes, and landscaping requirements. Often overlooked in this process is the importance of providing adequate space for your on‐site sewage disposal system.
The capacity and location of the on‐site sewage disposal system becomes increasingly important when planning mixed‐use developments as the tenancy is typically unknown, or may change in the future. There have been numerous instances in which the tenant occupancy was actually constrained by the design of the disposal system. There have also been various cases where a disposal system was designed, permitted and installed in anticipation of expected retail tenants only to find that a food establishment or health club, or both, were better suited for the location due to current economic conditions.
Property owners and developers should not be at the mercy of their sewage disposal system design. If the on‐site disposal system is not designed with expansion or flexibility in mind, changing or signing new tenants could be a challenging and costly proposition. When maximizing a new site for development, it is crucial to strike an appropriate balance between disposal system capacity and gross floor area of your building. The use of some innovative and alternative (I/A) septic systems can allow a developer to build a system that is capable of handling the same flow as a traditional system but requires less area. This allows a larger building footprint, more flexible occupancy, and greater revenue potential.
There are several forms of I/A septic systems, including:
- Textile filters;
- Trickling filters;
- Alternative soil absorption systems (SAS); and
- Aerobic treatment systems.
Various I/A techniques provide superior treatment of wastewater effluent and additional storage volume, while allowing for a significant reduction in necessary footprint area. Although states have the jurisdiction to regulate reduction in footprint area, Massachusetts currently allows up to a 40% reduction from a traditional system. This can result in land area savings of more than 5,000 s/f, leaving the excess available for building area. Even greater reductions can be achieved in other New England states, such as N.H. and VT.
Developers and owners should also be aware of the potential cost savings when using certain I/A systems. Traditional on‐site sewage disposal systems that are sized to handle between 2,000 gallons per day (GPD) and 10,000 GPD require a pressure dosed pipe; and stone, or chamber and stone system. This requires expensive pump equipment, large emergency storage chambers or emergency back‐up generators, as well as electrical infrastructure and ongoing mechanical maintenance. Environmental regulators have agreed that certain types of I/A systems should not be pressurized and therefore do not require expensive equipment or significant maintenance. Certain I/A systems also use clean sand in place of crushed stone which can result in savings of up to $10 per cubic yard.
A component of sizing on‐site disposal systems is determining the long‐term acceptance rate (LTAR) of the system. This is a measurement of how much effluent the in‐situ soil can accept and infiltrate into the ground. This varies based on soil texture and the effluent’s strength, which leads to a biomass on the soil. Traditional pressure dosed systems restrict the use of higher loading rates in sandy soils, hence increasing absorption field size. However, I/A systems allow higher loading rates, resulting in superior land use efficiency over traditional systems.
All sites are different and each will require unique and creative land planning. I/A systems are not appropriate for every site but when municipal sewer is not available; owners should be aware of their options for sewage disposal and to consider implications for future expansion and flexibility.
“Low Investment, Low Impact Sustainable Water Management Techniques” by Gale’s John M. Perry, P.E. was published in the Facility Management Journal.
Most state regulated stormwater standards mandate that Low Impact Development (LID) techniques be considered when planning drainage solutions. In some cases owners and designers have seen this as burdensome, unnecessary or over the top. What many owners are not aware of are the significant potential cost savings associated with LID techniques. Consider a road or access drive with a traditional curbing and closed drainage conveyance system. The road will have curbing on both sides, two catch basins and one drain manhole per every 300 feet and a minimum 12-inch drainge pipe along the entire length. Now consider the same roadway with a vegetated conveyance swale on each side; this will have no curbing, no drainage structures and no piping. An owner can expect to pay up to $155 per linear foot for the traditional closed drainage system versus around $58 per linear foot for the vegetated swale option; a savings of almost 3 times. Other cost savings measures of LID techniques are:
- Use bioretention as landscape area to meet zoning requirements – two for one deal.
- Bioretention areas negates the need for multiple catch basins within a parking lots, typically only one catch basin is needed as an overflow.
- Bioretention areas can eliminate or greatly minimizes the need for underground storage which can result in large savings in plastic or concrete chambers and crushed stone.
- The use of permeable surfaces for recharge can be used for in place of infiltration basins which can lead to more space for development and potential revenue.
- Proper site selection can minimize disturbance to wetlands and habitats therefore reducing costs of mitigation efforts. Proper site selection can also limit dewatering efforts, costly erosion control measures and overall site construction complexity.
- Use native plantings, they tend to be locally grown which limits travel and fuel costs.
- Drought tolerant plantings eliminate the need for irrigation thus saving on installation costs and water usage.
- Consider using silt socks rather than hay bales; they are easier to install / remove and can save significant labor.
- If work within wetlands is necessary, consider using directional drilling. You can save time and money on trenching, tree cutting, mitigation, replication, erosion control and permitting.
- Consider the use of LED site lighting. LED lighting gives flexibility to dim, put on timers and even control from your smart phone. You will pay a premium up front but can experience considerable savings in energy and fixture replacement over time.
The FAA is considering changes to their aircraft hangar policy, and comments will be received until October 5th, 2014 (the original deadline was September 5, 2014). The policy change can be reviewed in the Federal Register where comments can be received. These changes will affect all airports and the FAA is looking for comments, good or bad. To access the Federal Register and comment, click here. Don’t forget, if you want to discuss these changes, please feel free to call us at 603-471-1887.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently reissued the Airport Design Advisory Circular (AC 150/5300-13A); the first rewrite since 1989. One of the biggest changes involves the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ).
The RPZ is a two-dimensional trapezoidal area located at the end of a runway extending into the approach. It is required to enhance the safety and protection of people and property on the ground. Where practical, Airports should own the property within the limits of the RPZ and clear all above-ground objects.
In the renewed Airport Design AC, the dimensions, location and basic definition of the RPZ have not changed. What has changed is the definition of permissible uses for land located in the RPZ that may or may not require further evaluation and coordination. The following table describes those land uses:
Challenges continue to exist with the RPZ because guidance is still evolving. For additional information, please refer to the following resources:
It is springtime – finally! This is a time when local governments or others may request to use apparent “unused or vacant” airport land to support recreation as bike paths, athletic fields, parkland or wildlife refuge. These types of uses are classified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as “Section 4(f)”. Prior to considering requests to allow airport land to be used for these purposes, Airport Owners/Managers and Commissions should consider Section 4(f). Under that section, an airport may become solely responsible to pay for unforeseen mitigation or enhancement expenses.
The 4(f) designation is shorthand for regulations [Section 4(f)] that fall under the U.S. DOT Act of 1966. When considering an airport project, the effect of a 4(f) resource should be taken into account. This means the airport must try to avoid it, minimize impacts, mitigate impact or enhance the resource. Chapter 7-3(e) of the Airports Desk Reference discusses temporary leases or agreements that may permit the use of airport property for Section 4(f) purposes.
Airport Owners/Managers and Commissions should also note that the potential mitigation or enhancement costs incurred by the airport may not be eligible for reimbursement by FAA.
Visit these sites for more information:
- 352 F. 3d 545 – Stewart Park and Reserve Coalition Incorporated v. E Slater R J R
- Chapter 7 Section 4(f) Resources
- FHWA Updates Section 4(f) Policy Paper
“Retrofit Put to the Test” by Gale’s Brian H. Neely, AIA, CDT, NCARB and Joshua T. Hogan, E.I.T., was published in the April 2014 issue of Durability & Design.
Across the United States, buildings in which people live, work, shop and study use about $200 billion in energy each year. That’s a significant portion of the nation’s energy-use and carbon footprint. While the energy efficiency of new buildings has improved dramatically over the past two decades, many older buildings remain substandard in meeting insulation and air-infiltration requirements.
Buildings older than 20 years comprise more than 70 percent of our building stock. Improving their thermal performance offers a great opportunity to conserve energy. A variety of energy upgrades are available for these buildings.
Energy conservation isn’t the only reason for retrofitting buildings. Retrofits are often more cost-effective than constructing a new facility. Upgrades can extend building service life, increase asset value and contribute to a healthier, more comfortable environment for occupants.
Upgrades can save money, reduce emissions, and provide investment opportunities and jobs.
Existing and retrofitted buildings went head-to-head beginning in 2012 when a New England university began a phased, three-year-upgrade of the building envelopes of three identical, energy-inefficient dormitories. The project’s goals included extending the service lives of the buildings and improving energy efficiency, durability and aesthetics, while reducing maintenance requirements.
The work provided an opportunity to measure the change in air infiltration and thermal transfer in the exterior walls, from existing to retrofit. Testing revealed where airtightness was improved by as much as one-third, and where future retrofits might focus.
With today’s push for building the most sustainable and energy efficient building, it is increasingly important for design and construction teams to understand how different building enclosure components and materials function once installed as a complete assembly. Building enclosure under-performance may lead to unforeseen ownership costs and repairs, and failing to achieve anticipated energy savings. Such issues can have been avoided through proper considerations during project conception, design, and construction.
Depending on stated R-values and material, thermal resistance can be misleading and reduce potential energy savings if they are not considered as a full assembly. For instance, heat (or energy) is transferred from the conditioned interior space to the building exterior through conductive (metal) attachments, anchoring the exterior wall cladding to the structural steel wall framing. These highly conductive thermal bridges cause direct heat flow paths through the insulation. Depending on the attachment method and insulation depth, they can reduce the overall thermal resistance of a wall assembly by upwards of 50%. A wall with R-13 within metal studs and a continuous R-8 is reduced to R-16, and is further reduced when the thermal conductivity through the attachment components (like 2 girts) are considered.
Several recent research studies provide a better understanding of how heat transfer via thermal bridging impacts a building’s overall energy efficiency. One such example is the ASHRAE Research Project 1365 “Thermal Performance of Building Envelope Details for Mid- and High-Rise Buildings.” Click here to download the original report and also the ASHRAE Research Project 1365. A proper understanding of the thermal performance of the exterior wall assembly is critical to achieving proposed energy savings and project performance requirements.
“Avoiding Air Barrier Pitfalls” by Gale’s Brian H. Neely, AIA, CDT, CBST and Robert F. Mimmo, CBST was published in the November issue of Durability & Design. The article highlights dos and don’ts of installing air barriers through the exploration of four case studies. Below is an excerpt:
Air barriers, when correctly installed, help buildings achieve high levels of energy efficiency by decreasing heat loss. For example, great pains are taken to stop the uncontrolled passage of air through building envelopes of passive houses, which routinely reduces energy consumption 80 – 90 percent compared to traditional buildings (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). But, when air barriers are incorrectly installed, they can cause problems for buildings, including deterioration of sheathing structural members, and can contribute to the formation of mold in the wall system.
On a periodic basis, FAA Flight Procedures collects data on airport obstructions and shares this information with individual airports. Airport managers typically receive an email that includes one or more spreadsheet summaries of surface penetrations, and a Google Earth (.kml) file that presents the penetrations graphically. While this information is useful for long-term maintenance of obstructions, Gale Associates, Inc. has received inquiries from airport clients regarding how to best understand and use this information. Gale offers the following guidance for our airport clients:
Know Your Surfaces. FAA will often send obstruction data for more than one runway approach surface. This may give the impression that there are obstructions that need to be removed, when in fact, that approach surface may not apply. Each airport manager should be familiar with the approach surfaces that are to remain clear. Only the appropriate files sent by FAA should be used to identify and clear obstructions as part of the airport’s maintenance program.
Smart Spreadsheets. The spreadsheets sent by FAA include a lot of useful information to help identify and locate obstructions. Information regarding ground elevation, obstruction heights, and the severity of surface penetration is included. Airports can use the Latitude and Longitude coordinates provided to locate obstructions in the field. The knowledgeable and careful use of an affordable hand-held GPS unit may be useful in assisting the airport in validating the location of obstructions in the field.
Get Google Earth. This useful tool must be installed on your computer in order to open the .kml files sent by FAA. You can download the latest version of Google Earth here. Only the .kml files that correspond to the applicable surfaces should be used. These files show the location of each identified obstruction overlaid on an aerial photo. Airports can use this tool to best identify and plan their obstruction maintenance activities. It should be noted that the .kml files sent by FAA are preset to show an oblique perspective of the obstructions, which may appear to distort the obstructions’ actual locations. To show the obstructions in an overhead view, use the navigation tools in the top right of the Google Earth screen. The oblique angle can be adjusted using the arrows circled in the image to the right.
Gale’s Steven Marshall authored an article titled: “Window Design for Blast Hazard Mitigation” for the Society of American Military Engineers’ publication (The Military Engineer). The article details how to reduce damage caused by explosive blasts.
As a result of increasing terrorist threat and activity in the past several decades, there has been a growing demand for explosive blast resistance to be incorporated into the design of building structures and envelope components. Explosive blasts create additional overpressure loadings that are typically not accounted for in conventionally designed buildings. Structural design for blast resistance focuses on minimizing potential for progressive collapse through structural redundancy. The performance of building envelopes and cladding components during an explosive blast is more geared towards mitigating the hazards caused by the blast, as it has been found that many of the injuries and fatalities have been a direct result of flying glass and wall debris and not the explosion itself.
The article will focuses specifically on blast hazard mitigation design for windows and fenestrations. It presents a brief background and review of relevant theories, as well as the risk assessment process for evaluating demand and identifying vulnerabilities. As blast resistance is typically only a “requirement” in federal facilities, the article also review applicable Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) standards and design processes.
The May 2014 edition of High Profile Monthly features an article describing Gale’s work at the UMass Lowell athletic fields. Gale has been working with the University since 2000 with the installation of New England’s first infilled synthetic turf field. Our latest venture included expansion and upgrades to the fields to comply with UMass Lowell’s move to the NCAA Division I conference. Click here to read the article.