Just when you think you’ve got a handle on today’s technology, step foot on a college campus and realize just how far you have yet to go. There’s nothing more humbling than watching 18-year-old college students seamlessly navigate their way through today’s digital technology. Sure, they’ll be joining you in the workplace soon, but for now, we have a responsibility to stay one step ahead of their technology expectations on campus. When you factor in faculty expectations and demands for a robust research program, you suddenly have a vision for a high-performance building but need a plan to make it perform that way.
Low voltage systems in buildings are getting more and more complex. Now I’m not here to argue NFPA standards, so let’s just say low voltage systems are the IT, audio/visual, security, and data management components all tied together. Here are three good representative examples of these systems:
University of Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) – When OHSU set out to build the Collaborative Life Sciences Center for its medical teaching, simulation was an integral teaching component. Bringing together a comprehensive simulation system meant tying everything from the simulator to a control room and capturing it all on video with audio. In an adjacent classroom, there’s an expensive simulator (imagine the boardgame Operation, but at human scale and 900 times the cost), a hospital head wall, video cameras, microphones, display screens in the control room, and display screens for students to watch in real-time. There’s also a recording system for students to watch it later. Now, tie all of that together, make it easy to use for multiple faculty members and every student in each section, and put it in use every single day of the academic calendar.
North Carolina Agricultural Sciences Center – In North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Sciences processes all the samples taken for veterinary diagnostics, motor fuels, food safety, structural pests, soil testing, and probably a thousand other things. There is a lot to test when agriculture products make up $13 billion of the economy. With every test that comes in the door, environmental conditions for the sample must be rigorously maintained and logged. The same is true with custody of the sample that uses a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to track its path through a testing cycle. Now, make sure you have the environmental conditions of every lab space where a test is being taken, where the sample is being taken, who’s responsible for it, and the conditions it is being stored in.
University of Kansas School of Pharmacy – When there was a shortage of pharmacists in Kansas, the solution was to expand the class size by opening a satellite location 180 miles away from the main campus in Lawrence. The new facility in Wichita needed to provide all the same experience students were getting from the mothership. Every section taught would be shared in real time with the class in the satellite, capturing every class on video – including video and audio of all questions being asked by students in either location. The faculty on the main campus had to easily operate the system while managing two classrooms three hours away from each other.
Each of these challenges were overcome with help of the Systems Integration Service (SIS) group at JE Dunn. They’ve come up with an end-to-end solution that ties all these systems together into a single backbone. It then creates a comprehensive scope of work and manages it all the way through operational turn over. What used to be a mess of different contracts and contractors, now has become a one-stop shop that integrates all the system’s installation and connectivity into one bucket. Our SIS team works with campus IT staff and creates a responsibility matrix to make sure we are bringing these systems on to the campus network the right way. We identify early in design what is going to be purchased by the owner and what is to be left to us as the construction manager, but then we seek economies of scale for purchasing and installation, regardless of what project budget its being paid from. The receipt and installation of system components late in the project is included in the construction plan so interior fit-out can be coordinated around installation.
Fit, functional, and ready for use: it is our expectation for how we deliver a new facility – not “ready for you to figure out how your building works” or even worse, “ready for you to install all your systems after we’re gone.” It doesn’t come without a lot of coordination from our SIS team, but their solutions have become a critical element of support for these new high-performing buildings.