Services & Maintenance: Window Dressing

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By Marshall Lindell
Published in the January 2004 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

As is the case with many responsibilities germane to facility professionals, windows can go largely unnoticed unless a problem develops or a new application is needed. Looking for help with glazing situations, facility managers can turn to speciality contractors who deal with such applications.

Whether building a new facility, servicing an existing facility, or renovating an old building, facility professionals will maximize their window system’s ROI by working with a professional glazing team. This ROI can be achieved through architectural aesthetics, applied performance, managed budget, and on-time scheduling.

New Construction, Service, And Renovation

Building and designing new structures usually involves a construction team that includes the facility manager, architect, and general contractor. Because a window system is critical to the exterior’s desired design, it also is a good practice to invite a glazing contractor to the table.

The earlier a glazing contractor can participate in the planning process, the sooner he or she can help the team move from generalized, paper based manufacturers’ specifications to a customized, reality based solution. Working together with the designer and facility manager, the glazing contractor determines that the appropriate products are engineered to achieve the owner and facility manager’s specifications.

Throughout the lifecycle of a facility, a glazing contractor can help preserve the window systems’ beneficial attributes. Regular maintenance, building code updates, and emergency replacement are a few of the services worthy of consideration.

Glazing contractors are the key resource in helping to solve more persistent and reoccurring window system issues such as air and water leaks, rusting window frames, glass breakage, and fogging. In collaboration with air quality testing and abatement firms, they also can help alleviate mold, lead, and asbestos associated with sick building syndrome.

For aging facilities in need of more dramatic transformation, a glazing contractor can work closely with the property management team to update an outdated look and improve energy efficiency, occupant health, and safety performance.

Working With A Glazier

A glazing professional recognizes that every facility has its own special needs. Exemplifying this professionalism, he or she should customize an appropriate resolution to each building. One approach is this recommended four-step process:

  1. Property Survey and Discussions. The glazing contractor’s renovation representatives should meet with the facility manager to discuss the problems and concerns of the window system. Completing a cursory walk-through of the building, they usually are unable to confirm suspicions at this early stage. Typically, they will recommend proceeding to a hands-on examination.
  2. Non Destructive Diagnostic Evaluation. The glazing contractor assembles his or her team and reviews the window system’s area of concern from both the interior and exterior surfaces. To pinpoint root causes will require removing receptors, gaskets, and glass to examine the exact condition of the system. The review is non destructive in nature, and the openings are returned to their existing condition. After completing the evaluation, the team formulates resolutions to the identified issues which are presented with budget estimates to the facility manager. A joint decision is made to pursue one of the recommended options. At this point, a paper solution has been proposed, but this still needs to be validated in the field.
  3. Field Application Of Proposed Solution. A small-scale sample of the proposed glazing solution is installed in the existing wall. This may be as simple as replacing one window or as complex as replacing a whole section of glass curtainwall. In either scenario, the mock-up provides the opportunity to see into the components of the original construction. It also gives the facility manager the chance to view the final product and consider any recommendations or changes.This step further reduces liability for both parties by allowing the glazing contractor team to mitigate any hazardous materials, anchorage concerns, or other discovery items that may have otherwise affected future remediation work. Additionally, this small scale installation enables the glazing contractor to confirm the means and methods of construction prior to beginning with the total project.
  4. Final Pricing and Remediation Plan. Through the previous steps, the glazing contractor isolates the area of concern, recommends options, and validates a solution for the renovation. During this final step, the contractor should establish an accurate, cost effective price and propose a timeline with start and completion dates based on mutually agreed upon parameters.

An occupant disruption plan should also be created to minimize the disruptions to tenants and other personnel occupying the building. The glazing team should understand this is a crucial item. Once these items are agreed upon, the window system renovation project can proceed.

A well chosen window system can help save energy, lower maintenance costs, create a comfortable environment, update aesthetics, and improve security. Regardless of the reason, a glazing contractor can help facility managers’ achieve the ultimate goal-the ROI that comes from these window systems.

Lindell is renovation senior associate with Golden Valley, MN-based Harmon, Inc. He can be reached at [email protected].

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