By David Siclari
The daily expectation of a building engineer requires extreme patience in dealing with all of the building occupants. Whether it is teachers or students in a school, administrative personnel, tenants in a commercial office space or patients in a long term care facility, they all require special attention down to finest details. During my longevity in the building management career, I have experienced first-hand the importance of this position.
The health and safety of all occupants is single handedly the most important part of my role as a building manager or engineer, abiding by all code requirements enforced by the local and state government. Daily inspections are always a part of my busy day. While performing building tours throughout the space, I am always gathering important information to enhance the condition of the facility and to ensure that everything is operating properly. These tours are extremely important because I am listening to the sounds of motors and pumps, making sure they are running smoothly. In addition, I service all of the HVAC systems as needed, replacing filters and belts on the smaller systems and overseeing the contracted service providers on the larger equipment. Indoor air quality is an extremely important part of keeping the occupants healthy and also comfortable as they go through their day. Boilers, air handlers, compressors, chillers and cooling towers are all part of the equipment I am responsible for. Checking the proper operation of door closers and latches, emergency lighting, elevator cars and even trip hazards will reduce the chance of injuries. Lamp replacement is an everyday necessity, ensuring proper lighting in common areas and suites throughout the building.
Scheduling all contractors and ensuring their safe work practices as they perform their services to the facility, is another very important task. Interviewing for new contracted service vendors can be challenging for several reasons. Sometimes, the contractor with the lowest price is awarded the job; however, the quality of the service provided is not adequate. It is my responsibility to ensure that the contracted service is being completed properly. Working with upper management to explain the reason why one contracted service is preferred over another contractor requires the complete knowledge of the work being performed.
Ensuring a good relationship with all local inspectors is essential. Inspectors are important because they will assist you with making your building a safe place to work. Also, keeping fire alarm, fire sprinkler and other related devices operational and inspected as required. Monthly, quarterly, and annual inspections are necessary to keep check that all safety systems are working properly.
Scheduling the operating times of lighting controls, HVAC controls and access controls are also a part of being a building engineer. The building management system (BMS) is one of the best tools to have. It is a software system on your computer that allows you to monitor and make changes to all the systems mentioned above. With some of the updated systems, it can be controlled remotely or even from your cell phone. Remote access gives you the ability to change settings and start times on all the related equipment, any time of the day from wherever you are.
Responding to complaints is one of the many time consuming tasks. Daily smells, spills, leaks and restroom issues are non-stop, and don’t forget the complaints about the temperature, someone is always too cold or too hot. No one ever says,” the temperature is perfect”. It is one of the most common complaints. Balancing the HVAC system is an art, and every day that I make it through the day with minimal complaints, is a good day.
Pest control monitoring is a monthly occurrence, unless you have a pest outbreak, which would require immediate attention. It is my job to ensure that all of the occupants try their best not to leave food out in the work areas. This is an extremely important part of keeping insects and rodents in your building to a minimum.
Working with and supervising day porters along with contracted cleaning services help to keep the building and grounds looking clean and desirable to occupants and visitors. In house stock of all supplies used in the building is also a responsibility of the building engineer. Landscaping and snow removal contractors are an essential part of keeping the exterior property looking well-groomed and safe.
David Siclari is a Facilities Manager with over 25 years of hands on experience in facilities operations and management
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