PHOTO CREDIT: FreeAxez LLC
Whole Building Design, a new way of thinking about how we design and construct buildings, is to construction what holistic medicine is to health: a way of thinking about the building as a fully functioning system rather than simply the sum of various components. And key to whole building design is an integrated design process whereby the building’s owner, management, tenants, architects and designers, contractors and suppliers participate in the process of designing and building the structure from the very beginning.
The concept is that by involving all parties early, redundancies can be avoided, schedules can be streamlined and met, savings can be enjoyed and the building itself can perform at a more functional, efficient level throughout its lifecycle. The integrated design process is also an excellent way for architects, FMs and tenants to enjoy the full advantages of new technologies, on the drawing board and throughout the lifetime of the building. In the case of one of the newer technologies – cable management systems – planning for and implementing the system as part of a building’s integrated design process during new construction or retrofits can have dramatic results.
Not so long ago flooring was considered a “finishing touch” – functional and somewhat cosmetic. Traditional raised access flooring systems were originated in the 1960s and were built to push air, not power and data. Today’s high tech environments demand a system that offers more. Cable management systems, or adaptive cabling distribution, take the raised access floor much further and conceal and protect power, data and telecom cables with added flexibility and features. When specified at the start of a new construction or retrofit project, a cable management system provides benefits throughout the life-cycle of the building:
1) From a design standpoint, knowing that a cable management system will be employed frees architects and designers to plan or renovate wide open spaces that don’t require fixed features to accommodate wires and cables. And because the system allows cabling to be easily accessed and reconfigured, design features such as moveable workstations and walls can be specified, creating a custom-designed office that optimizes occupant productivity.
2) Cable management systems minimize costs because they don’t require core drilling, trenching, power poles, cable trays or additional hardware. There are no additional line-item costs to the system. And with no drilling required, installing a cable management system produces little or no construction waste, (a plus if you’re working toward LEED or another green certification) meaning site clean-up is minimal and construction schedules can be shortened.
3) When properly specified and incorporated into the process a cable management system simplifies coordination with the trades. For example, electricians don’t have to order and install cable trays. The system requires no extra hardware from an AV or IT contractor, also saving time and money. Additionally, cable management systems are usually installed late in the construction schedule, after interior construction and painting is finished, so coordinating trade workers in the space isn’t problematic.
4) Modular cable management systems snap together quickly, cleanly, quietly and safely for less downtime, dust and disruption to other tenants. Because cable management systems aren’t affixed to the structure, they do not require drilling or wiring in adjacent tenant spaces making a minimal impact and increasing security.
5) A cable management system makes economic sense, long-term and short-term. Because the system isn’t affixed to the building, it contributes to accelerated cost recovery as furniture fixtures and equipment. Cabling can also be reconfigured time and again, through numerous floorplan changes and tenant cycles; its reusable nature adapts to meet new technology needs.
Like with any new technology or product, the key is to bring the appropriate party into the conversation at the beginning of the design or renovation process. In that way the attributes of the system can be used to their best advantage. Over the span of the process, planning for a cable management system can save money in contractors’ time, unnecessary materials and hardware, and construction waste. It can open up a range of options for FMs looking for new capabilities from their space. Most important, the accessibility and ease of use of the system is a value-added feature that tenants of the building can enjoy for years to come.
Earl G. Geertgens III is President and CEO of FreeAxez LLC.
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