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Campus Construction Projects – 10 Keys to Planning for Success

Want to make improvements to your campus?

As a former director of facilities and civil engineer, I have lived through many of these projects and have helpful tips and advice to ensure key considerations are not overlooked.

Whether it is a commercial office park or school grounds, let’s take a look at the 10 keys to planning a successful construction project on an active campus.

#1: CONSIDER ALL USERS

–        Place yourself in the position of the person who occupies or uses the site. The people impacted the greatest are not always sought out for input.

–        In a commercial office campus this would include the business owners, customers, delivery personnel and maintenance people.

–        On school grounds it is important to consider faculty and students. These folks experience the construction process not only during its start and its completion stages, but also throughout its duration.  They see things differently than the owner, the engineer and reviewing agencies.  They also may not have a great deal of experience with prior construction experiences, and therefore may not be able anticipate their needs during the planning process.  During construction, however, they will raise issues that adversely affect them, especially if it is tied to profits and performance. 

#2: ESTABLISH WORK HOURS, START AND END TIMES

–        Be certain the specified work hours meet the owner’s operational needs. 

–        Hours may not be the same for every day of the week.

#3: IDENTIFY THE TRAFFIC FLOW

–        Establish separate entrance and exit points for construction traffic.

–        If this is not possible, make sure signs are posted to advise regular traffic of the shared routes.

–        Include changes in the routes that may be required over the duration of construction.

#4: MAINTAIN A CLEAR PATH FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES

–        Ensure the changes in traffic routes do not impede emergency vehicles.

#5: DON’T FORGET ABOUT DELIVERY VEHICLES, US MAIL, BUS ROUTES, MAINTENANCE, FOOD SERVICES

–        Ensure that traffic routes allow these vehicles to perform their duties during construction.

#6: IDENTIFY LAY DOWN AREAS

–        Specify an area for storage of equipment and material.  Include a requirement for a secure fence.

–        Specify which contractor has control for operating this area.

–        Ensure the owner agrees with its location.

–        Avoid using existing parking areas, unless absolutely necessary.

–        Specify restoration of the area after the project concludes.

–        Specify no storage of potentially dangerous substances.

#7: SET ASIDE A CLEAN UP AREA

–        Be certain that the “tire scrubber area” not only complies with environmental requirements, but also meets the owner’s expectations.

–        Mud, dirt and dust may occur beyond the tire scrubber, which is not acceptable to a campus atmosphere.  Mandatory street sweeping may be required by the contractor on a frequent basis.

#8: BE COGNIZANT OF NOISE AND THE IMPACT ON YOUR SURROUNDINGS

–        This is especially critical in educational settings.  Complaints may occur due to test dates or special events.

–        Work with the owner to obtain specific dates and times to include in the contract.  If unspecified events occur during the project, give as much advanced notice as possible to the contractors.

–        Ensure the neighbors are advised of the project.

#9: MANAGE FUMES FROM HEAVY EQUIPMENT

–        Exhaust from heavy equipment near a campus building may result in complaints.

–        This is a concern for buildings that use unit ventilators or have air intakes close to the construction.

–        The same is true for construction items such as generators, roofing tar pots, special adhesives, etc.

#10: ALLOW SUFFICIENT TIME TO OBTAIN SECURITY CLEARANCES, IF NEEDED.

–        Public schools have a strict requirement for contractor personnel to obtain security on the site.  These clearances require actions from Federal and State agencies and review by the local district before a clearance can be granted.

–        This requirement applies to professionals and consultants, as well as, construction contractors. 

–        Be aware of the time required to obtain the clearances, and the frequency for renewing the clearances over the length of the project.

–        Failure to obtain the proper security approvals may result in non- access to the site and delays in performing the work.

Despite all the energy invested in the planning and the municipal review processes, problems will occur if these steps aren’t taken prior to construction.  A successful project occurs when there is consideration and clear communication between all parties.