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A Word from our Owners – Ball State University

David Shepherd Ball StateDavid Shepherd – Facilities Engineer, Ball State University 

David is a Facilities Engineer at Ball State University where he coordinates, designs, and oversees construction of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, including projects from small maintenance repair and replacements to large capital improvement projects and new construction.

David has over 15 years of professional experience in consulting engineering, construction and facility management. He also supports the skilled trade shops at Ball State from an engineering standpoint, overseeing training of new systems and managing all commissioning activities.

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Schmidt Associates has worked with Ball State University on several large capital projects. Recently, we’ve been providing engineering services for various facility maintenance projects across campus.

 

How do you approach operation and maintenance for your facilities?

As far as operations go, you must look at things with the future in mind. We always try to plan for what we think is going to happen down the road. You need to make it a key point within the maintenance group that they understand how preventative maintenance is key to the longevity of the equipment and our facilities. I push that a lot with our shops – during training sessions, they need to listen and take notes. For example, you may need to use a specific kind of grease on a specific type of bearing. If they don’t get it right, that will lead to early failure of equipment.

 

What are the most important aspects of a project from the Operations and Maintenance perspective?

The quality of the installation from the contractors is critical from an operations and maintenance standpoint. If they don’t install equipment properly, that can lead to early failures. Getting the team trained properly is also one of the most important aspects.

While in the design phase, the most important aspect, in my opinion, is that they listen to our recommendations and follow our Ball State standards. That is what I struggle with sometimes, I need the team to realize there is a reason that we have these standards. We need them to do what we want them to do not what they think is the best. We have created these standards from past experiences.

 

What do you see as a future trend in higher education facilities?

I would say the one thing, from my MEP aspect, is lighting. Everything is going to LED, with more capabilities for color tuning and controls. This improves the environment as far as people’s attitudes and general health – LED is more natural and brighter when compared to dingy fluorescents.

 

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates on BSU housing?

The quality has been very good. It helps because the Schmidt Associates team has been working at Ball State for a long time. They understand our facilities people and our standards. It makes it easier for us when we don’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to fix mistakes because the team already understands what we want.

Another thing is they are always quick to act when an issue comes up. Ryan Benson has been a great advocate for us, he pushes back on contractors when we need him to. He has been one of the best architects I’ve worked with because he truly understands who he is working for.

The engineers have been great at picking up things I’ve commented on and recommending ways to make a system better that I didn’t think about before.

 

Anything else you would like to add that I might have missed?

From my standpoint, I just want everyone to understand how critical it is to maintain our equipment so we get the life expectancy out of it. Maintenance and quality installations are the two points I want to drive home!

 

If you have any facility operation and maintenance questions, reach out to us!

 

Planning for the Future: Facility Assessments and Master Plans

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Most organizations see great value in planning for the future. Time is often spent on developing both long-term strategic plans as well as yearly actionable business plans. If you are an organization that owns your own facility, one piece that is often missing from the planning process is taking the time to understand how the facility supports your current needs or how it will address your changing needs as you look toward the future.

Two of my favorite tools we use to support our Owners are Facility Assessments and Master Planning Processes. Taking the time to review and understand the current state of your facility can save you from making costly mistakes for the future.

What is a Facility Assessment?

A facility assessment looks at the existing conditions of your building: site, building envelope, interiors, mechanical systems, etc. It identifies any code or accessibility issues as well as areas needing updating or repairs. It then assigns a cost to fix the deficiency and allows you to update the assessment as improvements are made.

The benefits of a Facility Assessment:

  • Comprehensive understanding of current building, site, and system conditions
  • Detailed maintenance plan with anticipated costs and estimated life expectancy i.e. replacing an aging roof or mechanical system
  • Awareness of any code violations that could affect the health, safety, and welfare of the people using your facility

What is a Master Plan?

A Master Plan will look at how your facility supports your organization’s mission and goals. It identifies how the space currently addresses your needs and how to accommodate new growth initiatives. If necessary, it will outline what renovations or additions should be made, along with the associated costs and schedule.

The benefits of a Master Plan:

  • Compares your current program offerings and space allocation to future plans identifying what growth is needed to support new initiatives
  • Outline a plan for future needs and growth
  • Includes an opinion of probable construction cost to allow your organization to outline your funding needs

Some building improvement items can be costly. Getting these in your budget early helps with planning and funding so you do not get caught by surprise with high ticket items. Not to mention the additional cost of redoing work if it has already been built. For example, placing new mechanical equipment right where the new addition wants to go.

When organizations use these tools it not only helps plan for the future, but allows others to clearly understand where you are going. Utilizing a Facility Assessment and Master Plan outlines the plans and financial impact that you can share with donors, grantors, and the community. Giving you the tools to bring others along as you move to align your facility with your goals and strategic plan.

Reach out to us and see how we can help you plan for your future.

A Word from our Owners – The Salvation Army Indiana Division

Majors Bob and Collette WebsterMajor Bob Webster – Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army Indiana Division

Major Robert Webster is a graduate of Asbury College with a degree in physical education and recreation. He also holds a Masters of Ministry degree from Olivet Nazarene University. Prior to becoming a Salvation Army officer, he worked as a physical education teacher for the Tampa, FL public school system and as a Community Center and Recreation Director in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

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Schmidt Associates regularly has Owners ask us about Facility Assessments and Master Plans, and how they can help guide their decisions. This month we took a minute to talk with The Salvation Army Indiana Division about how we helped them with both a comprehensive Facility Assessment and a Master Plan.

 

What made you realize The Salvation Army in Indiana needed a Facility Assessment and Master Plan?

We recognized we have a lot of facilities with no plan for operations and maintenance, and we had no way to determine what state they were all in. We wanted to know the health of the facilities, and try to evaluate how much would be necessary to spend to bring them back to an acceptable standard of health.

The entire process took longer than we thought it would get it done, but we had to take things to our advisory board and property committees. While the Facility Assessment and Master Plan were being developed, we also had a feasibility study done for a possible capital campaign. This all compounded what we thought would take a couple of months, and took longer since there is always a next step of approval.

The assessment of the facilities itself however went quickly. The Schmidt Associates team went to the facilities, gathered information, and wrote a thorough report.

How has the Master Planned guided your actions?

It helped us tremendously in the fact that combined with the assessment tool, it helped us to focus our priorities to better facilitate our clients, the people we work with every day. The Master Plan helped us recognize what steps were needed, and in what order, to get our vision done. We couldn’t do that without having a secure foundation. It allowed us to focus on what needed to be done and how to spend our resources.

At our camp, we were trying to figure out what the best way to spend the money would be. We wanted to expand, but also had liabilities with the existing facilities needing to be brought up to an acceptable manner. This was done alongside the Schmidt Associates team and provided recommendations of what needed to be done first.

Overall, we’re pleased with the process. It was enlightening how much we really needed to get done because the study was so thorough. It made us aware of all the intricacies needed to stay functional.

Did it change what you thought you needed to do from a facilities perspective? If so, how?

We knew there was a lot of work that needed to be done at our Headquarters, so we needed to figure out if we should invest in our existing building or relocate. When the neighbors decided to buy our building, it made the decision easier to put the money from the sale towards the new property instead of spending money to remodel. Had we invested in a remodel, we would not have been able to get additional square footage and additional parking. By relocating, we were able to invest in a larger space to better suit our needs.

In our other facilities, it helped us set a priority of what needed to be done first. We knew the HVAC at Harbor Light was a priority. However, this wouldn’t have been the first thing we did if it wasn’t for the study. Ironically, as the study finished, the chiller at Harbor Light died, which made us realize the report was providing us an accurate priority.

We found out things we didn’t want to spend money on, but recognized we needed to so we could move forward. It allowed our board to understand the necessity and reason since it was a third-party recommendation.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

It was certainly pleasant. They are very knowledgeable in what they do. They did a great job of explaining it to non-technical individuals allowing us to understand each priority and need. The customer service was wonderful and the organization is run with excellent leadership. We recommend them to organizations all the time.

 

If we can help you assess or master plan your facilities, reach out!