As we live in an era where there are more and more specialists and super-salesmen promoting products claiming to improve our living conditions and environment, it is important to step back and fully review what is being offered and why. Will it meet our expectations? How can it be implemented – and at what cost?
As our real estate assets age and technology advances there are many areas where newer is often better and more efficient (and sometimes smaller) resulting in continuing savings in energy costs that will help to offset the initial outlay.
From the Mechanical and Electrical standpoint, supervision is becoming almost as vital as design and specifications in some areas. Sometimes it can be as simple as a document review, or sometimes one or two inspection, evaluation or performance assessment visits are required. In any case, the amount of work involved in checking to ensure that you are getting value for money and an end result that will meet your expectations is definitely worth it. Once the decision has been made to proceed more ‘oversight’ is required to ensure that the work proceeds according to plans, with no shortcuts or omissions, and that all regulations are adhered to.
We hear stories of new boiler installations and Hydro sub-metering installations proposed by manufacturers or vendors that have dragged on for some excuse or other. Most often delays are due to trying to rectify mistakes or omissions in the original proposal that are discovered as the work progresses. Trying to rectify matters while the project is underway can be costly and time consuming and can cause frustration and tirades by angry occupants directed at the blameless manager.
There are many reputable companies out there with products that can indeed provide you with comfort and energy efficiency, but each installation has its own needs and must be fully investigated in order to specify the correct product and most beneficial installation process. It would make sense then to use an independent engineering company to oversee the process from conception to implementation – rather than leave it to the sales and/or technical representative of the company trying to sell you the equipment.
For example, CCIG (now McIntosh Perry) often becomes involved in reviewing the concept, suggesting improvements and identifying alternate suppliers where possible in order to facilitate a bidding process to ensure you get value for your money. It is much better to plan ahead and have knowledgeable engineers assist in the project development then and provide specifications and oversight so that the job is done right the first time with the minimum of inconvenience. Clear specifications also mean that you can obtain competitive quotes that can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis to create a comfort level that the price is ‘reasonable’. Once you have made an informed decision more ‘oversight’ is needed at key milestones during the project to ensure that quality work is being performed and that there are no ‘unforeseen’ problems. Often a good contractor can provide input during the work that can incorporated into the project if it has merits, but such suggestions must be carefully reviewed before any variation to the original plan can be made.
Areas where oversight is a good idea include chiller conversions; boiler retrofits; Domestic Hot Water storage tank replacement; Fire Alarm panel replacements (due to non-availability of parts for older systems); Lighting retrofits; Whirlpool/Spa upgrades;
Here are just a few examples of questions that arise where we can help.
Chillers – new legislation has forcibly shortened the life of any chiller that uses R11 refrigerant by prohibiting any replacement of R11 in the machine during an overhaul after 2005. This includes such work as replacing seals and bearings, so make sure that your machine is checked and made ‘tight’ prior to the deadline! Should you overhaul now and pray for no breakdowns, replace the chiller, or convert the existing machine to use a different refrigerant? The answer depends on the make, age and condition of your present chiller but there are also other considerations such as chiller room upgrades and cooling tower options.
Boilers – should you replace large boilers with several smaller staged units, and should you use dedicated boilers for domestic hot water or tap off a central system using a heat exchanger? What are the installation problems and how can inconvenience and ‘downtime’ be minimized for the occupants of the building? Is the new system being proposed tried and proven to be the most beneficial and energy efficient?
Fire Alarm Panels – do you need to replace or add extra detector zones to comply with the latest codes? Are existing detectors and alarm devices compatible with the new system?
Lighting Retrofits – do the replacements supply adequate lighting to meet code and municipal by-law requirements? Is the emergency lighting capability maintained to the required codes? Are there any additional devices such as photocells or motion detectors that could be incorporated for extra savings?
Continue to use your local ‘friendly contractor” for advice – but practice a little due diligence in ensuring that the advise is sound, that you have the involvement of an engineer to validate your decisions, that you are aware of all the options, and that all code requirements are met.
To find out how we can help you with your next project, call us toll free at 1-888-348-8991.