Features and considerations
A library building is a significant asset for council. Actively managing a building asset is essential for the efficient and sustainable operation of an organisation.
The importance of lifecycle costing has directly influenced a change in philosophy regarding construction cost and design excellence. Well designed, environmentally efficient buildings pay for themselves far more quickly than their alternative. The majority of the decisions influencing lifecycle costing (both capital and operational costs) are made in the early design phases.
The building design influences maintenance programs, as well as patterns of use and operational characteristics which result in cost, including materials, labour, fuel, travel and transport. Effective asset management requires the assessment of these recurrent costs, which are often of major concern to councils as they represent fixed costs which are usually not covered by other outside funding sources. The ongoing costs of a building may include:
- regular building maintenance
- scheduled maintenance
- fire protection
- graffiti removal/property maintenance due to vandalism
- building insurance
- updating of the fitout or changes of use
- technology and equipment replacement.
It will be necessary to prepare long-term and short-term budget forecasts. To do this it is advisable to refer to council’s property, maintenance and asset managers and potentially seek assistance from a professional asset management consultant. Their advice, and budget forecast reviews should be sought at key stages of the design and developed in accordance with long term asset management policies and strategies.
The maintenance of libraries is frequently overlooked in the design stage. By the time the building is occupied, it is often too late to make changes. Not everything can be anticipated, but with a thorough approach to thinking through the lifetime maintenance costs and maintenance procedures, potential problems can be avoided. A maintenance plan is often requested from the design team at the end of design development and completed before handover. The process of considering the whole of life aspects of a building can also be undertaken in conjunction with the risk and opportunity assessments.
In shared facilities it is useful to establish a memorandum of understanding so that responsibility for the maintenance of shared areas is accounted for.
The following are some common maintenance and operations issues:
- Through which route will large deliveries be carried from the loading dock into the library? Are doors, corridors, lifts and ramps wide enough? Are surfaces appropriate (hard wearing) in paths of travel?
- Can light fittings be accessed easily for replacement?
- Can glass be accessed internally and externally for cleaning?
- Does heavy furniture have wheels to facilitate cleaning routines?
- Are power points easy to reach?
- Are replacement parts easy to source? Are standard fittings, e.g. lightbulbs, used?
- Will there be enough power points for the required equipment and for clients’ use?
- Can a small portion of material be replaced if spot damage occurs? For example, carpet squares are easier to replace than standard carpet.
- Can items be reused in different locations (modularity)?
- Can windows be opened for natural ventilation if air conditioning breaks down?
- How frequently do finishes need to be replaced as a result of normal wear and tear?
- How long is the warranty on the building’s materials and fixtures?
- How frequently does equipment and technology need to be updated? Can the furniture and building accommodate changes in equipment?
- Is there sufficient ventilation for enclosed electrical components – e.g. computers, PA systems, display cabinet lights, ceiling lights – to prevent overheating and burn out?