Master Planning

A master plan is a critical tool for any building owner. Most facilities management, design and construction professionals recognize the value of a master plan for a building or campus. A master plan focuses attention on the owner’s ultimate goals so that every facilities decision contributes to these goals. Some master plans, though, focus almost exclusively on architectural issues and do not adequately address engineering and infrastructure features. An engineering master plan, whether separate or as part of an architectural master plan, can allow building system and utility infrastructure decisions to be made within a framework that furthers the owner’s goals in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Most architectural master plans should include a serious engineering component.

Assessment and Documentation

An essential component of an engineering master plan is the assessment and documentation of the existing utilities and systems. The condition and capacity of each system, including equipment and distribution, should be addressed. If new buildings are anticipated for a campus, for example, and the equipment in the campus central plant is close to the end of its useful life, then replacement costs should be addressed. If the architectural master plan includes a major addition to a building, electrical service upgrades may be needed.

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Exterior

Master planning and studies at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville

Energy Sources

An engineering master plan often includes an analysis of each utility serving a building or campus. These systems can include normal and emergency power, domestic water, fire protection water, communications, and in some campus scenarios, chilled water and steam. A thorough master plan addresses the anticipated requirements and the available capacity of each utility and recommends the best source for that utility. Issues of central refrigeration, steam and emergency power generation and distribution should also be addressed. In some geographic areas, owners have a choice between utility providers. In these cases, potential rebates and concessions from providers should be addressed in the master plan. Utility rate structures and the feasibility of energy saving features (e.g., thermal storage, cogeneration, peak shaving, and solar energy) are also an integral part of an engineering master plan.

Design Guidelines and Standards

Just as architectural master plans provide guidelines for materials and aesthetic requirements for future buildings on a campus, or in a complex, an engineering master plan identifies types of systems and materials for new buildings and major building renovations. These requirements can be broad system preferences, such as the use of constant volume laboratory fume hood exhaust systems versus variable volume systems, or they can be very specific equipment requirements, such as the requirement to use draw-out breakers in lieu of fixed breakers in switchgear. They can also simply document material preferences. Desirable manufacturers of specific products may also be identified. The point is to document the owner’s requirements for future designers to incorporate into future designs.

Communications Systems

Master planning for communications systems communications systems is even more complex than for other building systems. Plans must address not only the future building’s communications requirements, but also anticipate future technology advances. Due to constantly changing communications technology, a master plan that relies solely on today’s technology will be immediately obsolete.

An engineering master plan can allow building system and utility infrastructure decisions to be made within a framework that furthers the owner’s goals in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Coordination with the Architectural Master Plan

While an engineering master plan may be a stand-alone document, the reverse is often not true of an architectural master plan. Most architectural master plans should include a serious engineering component. If a new airside terminal is anticipated in the architectural master plan for an airport, utility capacity and distribution paths should be planned and delineated in the master plan. The building location should also be established to avoid costly rework of existing building components and interruptions of active building systems. If a portion of a judicial facility is planned to be converted from office space to courtrooms in the next five years, the impact on the utility systems must be addressed in the engineering master plan. Coordinated architectural and engineering master plans will provide the owner beneficial and very valuable guidance over the life of the plans.

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