Newsletter - Volume 126


     In this issue:

Technology corner:
New Building Technology

   By Paula Scales

Building system automation along with the cost of implementing building automation and control systems, whether during new construction or during renovations, continues to be a challenge for many project owners.

While automation can help offset escalating energy costs, security concerns and a number of other issues, a worthwhile return on investment (ROI) can be difficult to achieve or even quantify in view of overwhelming and often unpredictable upfront costs.

This trend is likely to change, however, as innovative technology companies continue to improve automation systems and, in the process, reduce the associated costs.

As an example, Siemens Building Technologies, ( has developed a wireless building automation system that they refer to as APOGEE.

Based on APOGEE’s mesh technology, devices called nodes send a message back and forth between each other until the signal reaches its pre-determined control destination.

Since there are no wires involved, this system lends itself not only to new construction projects but also to building renovations and/or equipment layout changes without the need for rewiring, thus yielding significant economies.

This mesh topology is also very reliable. It is self-correcting and the nodes have the ability to send a message to any node or multiple nodes within range. If one node goes out or is compromised in any way, there are plenty of other nodes to pick up the signal and deliver it to its intended destination.

“Simply put, the network can not be compromised because the signal is automatically able to circumvent obstruction and find its target,” a Siemens’ company representative explained.

This is just one example of the many new technologies that are currently available, each offering specific advantages along with opportunities for better managing internal systems.

From a practical perspective, these technologies are ideal for handling such tasks as controlling systems for light fixtures, HVAC, security, fire alarms and life safety.


Focusing on Innovation

A past issue (Spring 2004) of our newsletter included an article that outlined the various considerations of building redevelopment versus new construction from a business owner’s perspective.

At that time, we had noted an increasing interest in redevelopment due to the shortage of developable land in the region, and to the increasing difficulties associated with obtaining entitlements and permits for new construction.

While environmental and economic considerations were also identified as factors, and while some of these variables (such as interest rate levels) have changed since then, the trend towards renovation and redevelopment has continued over the past eighteen months.





In fact, Brookstone Builders has been involved in nearly a dozen renovation projects during this time frame, which has brought about a few consequential developments from the contractor’s perspective that you might find interesting.

On a general basis, frequent involvement in renovation or redevelopment projects will typically require structural or operational changes in three specific areas:
  - Staffing
  - ob-site operations
  - Infrastructure

From a staffing perspective, a contractor must form sub-contractor teams that are well suited to the nuances and special demands associated with this type of construction.

To start, these craftsmen must be experienced at working in occupied environments – that is, environments in which other people continue to work during the course of a construction project. As noted below, the presence of non-construction personnel in and around a job site makes a big difference in how certain aspects of the job are handled.

But before they can even report to many industrial job sites, renovation crew workers must first comply with the various security and citizenship standards that many of today’s manufacturing or international firms require.

Once they qualify for work at the site, scheduling flexibility is another pre-requisite for renovation or restoration crew members, as we must accommodate our customer’s need to conduct “business as usual” during the implementation phase of each project.

This often makes it necessary for us to install major electrical or mechanical systems after/before normal work hours or on weekends, and team members must be willing to accommodate these special scheduling needs.

Our Project Managers and Superintendents must also possess or develop enhanced skills, which are used on a daily basis when they work in conjunction with Project Engineers to refine plans, schedules and resolve issues quickly.

As stated earlier, the presence of non-construction personnel around the job site brings about the need for a contractor and the job crew to place increased focus on a number of procedural and operational issues as well.

While safety is a paramount issue on all projects, for instance, it becomes even more important when non-construction personnel are working in close proximity to the job site each day.

Noise and dust abatement also become bigger issues on a high percentage of renovation projects, as they could potentially affect people’s ability to perform their jobs and might even have a negative effect on a manufacturer’s work environment or product quality.

Finally, once the right teams are assembled and on-site operational plans determined, it is also important for a contractor that focuses on renovation work to maintain the appropriate managerial and IT systems to keep track of the varied schedules, certifications and logistics.