In an era of heightened lawsuit activity and escalating insurance premiums, building owners and facility managers need to do their best to keep building occupants and employees safe. Accidents and emergency situations can happen in any environment, in any building, at any time. Even if state-of-the-art security systems are protecting facilities, building owners and managers must also do their part to promote and maintain a safe work environment.
Jeffrey Quinn, director of risk management at King of Prussia, PA-based AlliedBarton Security Services, provides helpful tips for Buildings readers regarding safety in their facilities.Buildings: What role do facilities managers play in ensuring workplace safety?
Quinn: The primary role of building owners and facility managers is life safety. They are responsible for the life safety of all building occupants, tenants, and visitors.Buildings: What is your top piece of advice regarding safety in any type of building?
Quinn: My top piece of advice: Preparedness is key. Each individual needs to be prepared for any emergency. FMs need to know their role and responsibility. While our workplaces are often protected by devoted police and security officers, and efficient alarm systems, each individual must also take an active role in maintaining a safe work environment. Staying aware of your surroundings and recognizing any potential hazards at work will significantly reduce risks.Buildings: What kind of training is necessary to keep employees and building tenants aware of safety practices?
Quinn: Training needs to be ongoing. Training should be used to review regular items on the safety list and address any new or emerging items. Establish and communicate a company emergency/disaster plan to all employees, and make sure that everyone, including new employees, is educated on the plan. Staff notification, evacuation, and an assembly location should be included in the plan.
If a crisis happens, think about how you will communicate this with your employees. Establishing a communications system for employees is also key. This should include the notification of staff and emergency-response personnel. All plans should be periodically tested through physical drills, which include verifying emergency supplies, such as batteries, first-aid kits, and flashlights. Emergency contact lists for employees and clients, as well as those for police, fire, and paramedic departments, should be reviewed and updated regularly.Buildings: Does workplace safety have other benefits besides staying healthy?
Quinn: Safety has many benefits in every aspect of life. When you think of the work you do at your job, the time you spend with your family, or the things you do for fun - if you are not doing those things safely, there is potential for injury, loss of life, or property damage, all of which have a negative impact on business and society.
Sustainable Design Certificate Introduced
The Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering at the SMU School of Engineering in Dallas has introduced an interdisciplinary program to enhance the expertise of students and working professionals who seek to specialize in the environmental, economic, and social tenets of sustainable design.
In its commitment to greening Dallas and the greater global community, SMU School of Engineering pushed its sustainable design certificate from inception to implementation in just 4 months. The certificate, one in a planned series, will attract four key audiences: current environmental and civil engineering students; advanced degree holders; professionals in the fields of engineering, architecture, and design who seek additional certification; and anyone who holds a 4-year degree and is interested in sustainable design.
Air Force Facility Designed with Sustainability in Mind
The Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver has been awarded for its sustainable design. Outstanding use of daylighting, energy efficiency, and sustainable, environmentally friendly design have garnered the "Best Sustainable Facility" award from the U.S. Air Force. The facility was designed by Denver-based Coover-Clark & Associates.
Adding to the project's sustainability were the use of renewable, environmentally friendly building materials; integrated xeriscaping and drought-tolerant plants; and the reuse of excavated soil for landscaping. The facility's strategy for daylighting includes translucent wall panels, skylights, and a light shelf to bounce natural light into work areas. The use of natural light in this building saves more than $10,000 per year.
Texas Children's Hospital Breaks Ground in Houston
The new Texas Children's Hospital West Campus project has begun in Houston. The hospital is currently among the nation's largest suburban pediatric hospitals and is designed, equipped, and staffed exclusively to treat children. Featuring a park-like setting with a 55-acre site, the new medical complex, totaling 490,000 square feet, will be built in phases at an estimated cost of $220 million. With the completion of the outpatient clinic building and the inpatient facility in 2010, West Campus will have an estimated workforce of 600 to 800 medical professionals and support staff.
The area's current pediatric population is projected to grow by 51 percent to 400,000 by 2015. The new facility will incorporate interior and exterior evidence-based design elements that promote healing, such as natural light, views of water and nature, child play areas, and outdoor, park-like settings for patient and family use. The project is being designed and constructed following LEED principles.
Energy Guidance Offered for Warehouses
The latest publication from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' (ASHRAE) Advanced Energy Design Guide series helps direct the construction of warehouses by using off-the-shelf technology that can cut energy use by 30 percent or more annually.
The Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small Warehouses and Self-Storage Buildings offers guidance to building design teams on how to use the best design practices to create energy-saving warehouses. Available for free in electronic format (www.ashrae.org/freeaedg), the guide covers an integrated design process for delivering energy-efficient warehouses, as well as sets of prescriptive requirements for each climate zone. Case studies of exemplary warehouse designs are provided, as well as detailed, how-to design guidance to help construction teams.