Facilities Visionary Newsletter Logo

            The Facilities Visionary

Facilities Visionary 2012 Fall Reeves Field



The Greening Of Reeves Field

American University's premier soccer field was renovated this year due to contamination of the top two inches of sand with an organic layer that resulted in poor drainage, high water retention, and shallow root development. Organic matter accumulation is a natural part of the field maturing, especially in Bermuda grass fields. The recommended solution for sand-based Bermuda sports fields is to re-grass every eight to ten years, depending on the condition of the field. Dr. Norman Hummel, consulting agronomist, evaluated the soil profile of the field and provided recommendations prior to the project specification development. He recommended removal of the existing sod along with two inches of organic-laden sand. The sand was replaced with a more coarse variety that was roto-tilled into the remaining sand layer to help blend the mix so that field porosity improved. The new sod is an improved variety called TifGrand Bermuda, a hybrid grass developed at the University of Georgia.

Rather than contracting the project out to a general contractor, Nick Gammill stepped up and requested to lead the effort, together with Martin Vasquez, Julio Flores, David Conn, Zeke Gammill, and additional labor provided by McFall and Berry Landscape. Nick also applied to the mentorship program to learn more about project management and was coupled with Mike Griffin (CRDMOPS), using the Reeve's Field project as a hands-on example. Nick and Mike mapped out a work schedule, organized the work force, purchased the materials, and got down to business. The team was presented with an “Ideas at Work Award” for completing the project utilizing in-house expertise.

The Zone E Grounds team maintains the field throughout the seasons. They are very proud of being host to various professional and international teams such as Manchester United (England), Brazil, Tottenhan Hotspur (England), Chivas, USA, and the Houston Dynamo. The demand for practice play on Reeve’s Field by such highly ranked teams prior to tournaments is a tribute to our Zone E staff. Congratulations for a job well done.

Return to top

Director’s Corner: Construction Management

With the start of the long-awaited Capital Projects Program, several significant construction projects have begun on campus and at off-campus locations. The newly-created Office of Construction Management (OCM) has been busy organizing the staff and management team to oversee these important projects, as well as selecting contractors to perform the work. Cranes, dump trucks, dumpsters, and drills are moving dirt and pouring foundations in the most significant build program since AU was establish more than 100 years ago.

The Nebraska Residence Hall is in the midst of a large addition. The construction of the new North Hall residential facility has begun at the north end of the main campus as well. Across town, a newly-acquired building located at 4401 Connecticut Avenue is undergoing renovation and modernization to become the new home for WAMU 88.5 and other important operating units of the university. OCM has been tasked with managing and ensuring that all these construction activities, on- and off-campus, run smoothly and safely. OCM also is responsible for completing these projects on time and within budget. We have confidence that we’re up for the challenge.

The American Dream is Green

Anyone who’s been part of the AU family in recent years knows the effort that has been made to become one of the “greenest” universities in the country. OCM fully supports this effort and its objectives. Thanks to the efforts of OUA & OCM, our office at 4620 Wisconsin Avenue was the first one within the FM and FDRE to be certified as an Eco-Friendly Office, effective on January 14, 2011. This year, with the new Green Office Pro-gram promoted through the Office of Sustainability, we look forward to being the first Green-certified department again in our division. Besides being involved in the “Greening of Campus” program, OCM also has made sustainability a significant part of all the construction activities. Construction managers have begun implementing waste management plans for each project with help from the Office of Sustainability which is a key element in achieving the goal of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on all new and renovated buildings. Members of both OCM and OUA also have been attending weekly classes, led by the Office of Sustainability, to become LEED-certified professionals. These classes have been helpful in our learning more about sustainable practices and ways to reduce our impact on the environment, both organizationally and as individuals.

Safety First

Construction Management at AU has taken a safety-first approach to guarantee the well-being of AU students, staff, visitors, contractors, and anyone else affected by the construction sites. At the start of our weekly staff meetings, a member of OCM is required to provide a “safety minute.” With topics ranging from job site safety to traffic management to bad weather and emergency response protocols, the safety minute focuses the staff on safe construction procedures. Furthermore, this information is used to educate our team on possible dangers of which they may not be fully aware.New policies and procedures developed by Public Safety also are being worked into the OCM staff meeting agenda. AU’s Risk Management team already has visited multiple project sites and has begun project-specific security plans. The use of DataWatch (locking and keying plans) and alarms are yet another way both Public Safety and OCM ensure that only authorized personnel are granted access to AU buildings and project sites. Overall, OCM works to assure that construction safety continues on campus without causing distraction or harm to the routine activities of the university as a whole.

Communication and Coordination

With so many individuals involved in each project at AU, the use of successful communication strategies quickly became a key requirement of every project. Communication and scheduling of work is important to ensure project completion dates are met, while affected parties are kept informed on critical activities and potential disruptions. OCM emphasizes good communication as a high priority because there are various departments within the university community that are affected by the work going on or planned. OCM has stressed management of all construction disruptions by using good communications practices, such as the development of the comprehensive “move plans” to support the relocation of WAMU from its Brandywine building to a building located at 4401 Connecticut Avenue, NW – currently under renovation and modernization.

In addition, OCM also has put together a weekly construction bulletin that is distributed throughout the university. This bulletin provides a general overview of important project-specific details, accomplishments and milestones achieved, as well as what pending activities will be occurring at all project sites. In conjunction with the development of an enhanced commissioning program by Facilities Management (FM), OCM has been holding constructability reviews for each of the capital projects to review drawings and specifications for the building’s and system’s functionality and operability. These reviews provide valuable input into the construction processes and are considered another way OCM has expanded communication lines with other departments of the university. With all these newly developed programs, plans, and actions, OCM anticipates completing all projects on schedule and within budget with minimal complications or disruptions.

Everyone Is Involved!

The entire campus and staff are excited and embrace the challenges faced by the ongoing construction. A big thanks to Kathy Kirlin, co-Director of Special Events located in the President’s Office Building, for bringing popsicles to the North Hall project site recently on a very hot summer day. All the workers were very appreciative of her efforts!

Return to top

Washington DC: The City of “Special Trees”

George Washington learned at a young age, six years old to be exact, the importance of a “Special Tree” when he used his new hatchet to take down his father’s favorite cherry tree. He must have learned his lesson, as he grew to become an avid horticulturist. In fact, several of the trees that he planted around his Mount Vernon estate are still present today some 200 years later. In the city named after him, trees also are dear to the hearts of Washingtonians. Coined the City of Trees, Washington, DC has a long standing relationship with trees. The storied cherry trees circling the Tidal Basin, the famous Jackson Magnolia on the White House lawn, and the huge Capital Willow Oak on the grounds of the U.S. Capital are examples of a few famous trees in our city.

In our most recent storm, or should we say Derecho, AU lost its oldest and most famous tree. The large White Oak is thought to have stood next to the President’s Office Building during the Civil War and was estimated to be more than 150 years old.

Over the years, the economic growth and land development projects within the city took a toll on Washington’s tree canopy and the “City of Trees” moniker seemed to lose its credibility. In 2002, thanks to a most generous donation by Betty Brown Casey and the work of former Mayor Anthony Williams, two important events occurred. First, the Casey Tree Foundation was launched with a charge to protect and enhance the tree canopy in the city. Second, the DC government got more serious about protecting trees and established the Urban Forest Preservation Act.

The Urban Forestry Act included section 37, titled Special Trees. As defined by the DC law, the city considers “Special Trees” to be any that are 55 inches or greater in circumference when measured at a height four-and-one-half feet above the ground (breast height). If the tree has multiple trunks, each trunk is measured and added together to determine the size. This law covers all trees throughout the city. If you have a tree that qualifies as a “Special Tree” under the DC law, you will need a permit to remove the tree. With the recent construction starts around campus, each project encountered the need to remove “Special Trees.” Property owners can submit a permit to remove a “Special Tree” through the online system, but will need input from a certified arborist to determine the type and health of the tree. Sometimes property owners prefer to hire their own certified arborist to make the evaluation, as opposed to waiting for the city urban forester to make the evaluation. Luckily at AU, we have Stephanie DeStefano and Jessica Lubell, both certified arborists, on our staff to make the application process much easier. If the “Special Tree” is determined to be a hazard, it can be removed without penalty. If the “Special Tree” is healthy, the owner will have to agree to either make a monetary payment to the DC tree fund or agree to plant trees of an equal number of circumference inches as a replacement. Replacement trees can be planted anywhere in the city as long as the locations are approved by the DC urban forester.

Between the North Hall, McKinley, and Nebraska Hall projects, AU has removed eight “Special Trees” that total 350 inches in circumference. We elected to plant 66 replacement trees on our campus as compensation during the next year. So next April, you can look for-ward to helping plant trees as part of our Campus Beautification Day.

Return to top

AU Facilities Wins APPA Sustainability Award

William Suter and Emily Curley hold the award plaque from APPA presented to AU

Emily Curley (far right) and William Suter (second from right) accepted APPA's award to AU at the Denver annual convention

Recently, American University’s Facilities Management department received APPA’s (Leadership in Educational Facilities) inaugural sustainability award for the integration of green ideas and practices throughout the university. Willy Suter, Director of Facilities Management and Sustainability Coordinator Emily Curley were on hand to accept the award at APPA’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado. While AU has won recognition for past sustainability initiatives such reducing energy consumption in residence halls and landscaping with native perennial plants, this new award by a national organization dedicated to education-al facilities management extends beyond individual projects to recognize the integration of green ideas and practices throughout all aspects of the university.

The APPA Awards Committee looked for applications that “demonstrate the ability to look at the organization as a whole,” and AU’s comprehensive view of sustainability impressed the commit-tee. “American University has committed the entire institution to sustainability,” said Leon MacLellan, a member of the awards committee. “There is great leadership – from the curriculum offerings, to energy planning, to the Eco-sense student club.” Suter said, “This newest award is specific recognition that AU's Facilities’ efforts are success-fully integrated with the broader university context, that we are leaders within the university, and that we are among very few international leaders in educational facilities management.”

Return to top

AU’s Retail Stores Eliminate Plastic Bags

As of August 14, plastic bags no longer are used by the Campus Store, Eagles Nest convenience store, and Subway, and have been replaced by a selection of reusable canvas totes and paper bags. Subway also introduced adhesive labels as a means of securing sandwich wrappers and eliminating the need for bags. While this innovative, new waste-saving technology already has been tested in overseas markets, it was introduced for the first time in the U.S. at the AU Subway franchise location. Subway also offers compostable paper sandwich sleeves for customers who request a bag. The paper sleeve will comply with the District of Columbia’s bag tax legislation.

Subway’s discontinuation of the use of plastic bags will have a significant impact on the environment nationally. In fact, it is reported that Subway alone sells more than four million sandwiches and salads per day in the U.S. – that correlates to millions of plastic bags. Closer to home, it will contribute to cleaning up the local waterways that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, Subway also has improved sustainability measures in their other disposable products including the use of napkins from 100 percent recycled fiber, processed chlorine-free and printed with soy or water-based inks; specialty sandwich pouches that contain 50 percent post-consumer fiber; and, pizza boxes that have 40 percent recycled content.

Auxiliary Services and the Office of Sustainability are working in cooperation to promote this effort to reduce waste at the source, as our campus strives to reduce waste and divert one hundred percent of campus waste from landfills.

Return to top

Derecho Wreaks Tree Damage Throughout AU Campus

On June 30, the Washington, DC area experienced what was described as a “Derecho,” a fast-moving, straight-line wind storm. The extreme winds and heavy rain had a severe impact on American University's tree population, as twenty mature trees were lost, including our oldest tree—a 100-plus year old White Oak—at the President's Office Building. Tree damage was spread throughout campus including the 45th Street lot, the President's Office Building, Nebraska Hall, University Ave., the tennis courts, Watkins and Kreeger, Hamilton Building, Hurst, and one large limb from the second oldest Pin Oak on the Quad. Damage at Tenley campus was limited to two large trees behind Dunblane. Structural damage to buildings was minimal and fence damage was limited to three locations. Clean-up operations continued through early August due to the amount of work involved in the removal of large trees.

The grounds and recycling associate staff are to be commended for pitching in after the storm to remove tree limbs and leaves from the grounds, walks, and roadways. A special thanks is extended to Ruben Chavez, Marty McGill, Melvin Cook, and Martin Vasquez for their quick response and extraordinary effort in making the campus safe by clearing tree debris immediately after the storm on Saturday and Sunday (June 30 - July1), allowing safe passage for pedestrians and vehicles. Ruben, Marty, Melvin, and Martin received an On-The-Spot-Award for their effort.

Return to top

Energy & Engineering Updates

Nori Barcia conducting in-house commissiong at Letts Hall.

We established the Energy and Engineering department last year with the mission to provide reliable and energy-efficient campus utility systems and service with a goal to be carbon neutral by 2020 and a pending 10-year strategic expansion program projecting a one million gross square footage increase of the campus.

During the last year, we:

•Defined our roles and responsibilities within FM, OIT's support role with EMS, and our individual and unit goals and objectives for the year.

•Developed and implemented FM's Building Commissioning Program to ensure our integration into the new construction program. We currently are finishing our first formalized "in-house" commissioning project with FY-12 renovation of Letts Hall.

•Commissioned and completed an Energy and Utility Masterplan; a Building Automation Masterplan; and with CRDM's support, a Medium Voltage and Domestic Water master plan. These will serve as the basis of our future infrastructure renewal budgeting and project efforts.

•Added four new members to our team – Paul Ejim, Asante Provost, Paul Girvin in the Central Plant, Programmer Yaming Ji in Energy Management, and created and posted a position vacancy for a commissioning coordinator. Our team achieved various training and recognition awards including mentoring, scholarship, and on-the-spot awards.

•Tasked a summer intern with a study to investigate the future of FM processes and data management with an eye towards the new construction in an era of increasing movement to mobile platforms, data consolidation, and rapid expansion in capabilities and leveraging of enterprise systems.

•Negotiated roughly 40 percent reduction in our natural gas utility rates and have been researching and working with procurement to develop a plan for similar procurement reductions in our electric rates.

•Established membership and actively participated in AU's Sustainability, Safety, Design Standards, and Mid-level Manager's Committees.

•Initiated LEED Volume certification with the U.S. Green Building Counsel by working with the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management to benchmark 25 existing buildings and to develop and submit prototyped procedures for implementing and managing LEED-based existing building operations and maintenance practices.

•Developed and submitted to executive management a university space temperature policy and led the campus through its first annual Winter Holiday closing and energy curtailment.

•Implemented and installed several energy improvement projects including a nearly 50 percent reduction in T8 lighting in Bender Library, replacing high consumption metal halide lighting in Butler Tunnel and Bender Arena with longer lasting induction fixtures. Through partnership with FMO, OUA, OOS, & DC SEU, we project an estimated annual energy savings of more than $600,000 and carbon reduction in excess of 2,400 metric tons annually.

Looking ahead to this year, we look forward to building and expanding on last year’s achievements:

•Establishing a more extensive multi-year infrastructure renewal plan and budget based on our master plan for ever-improving reliability, performance metrics, and customer satisfaction.

•Filling our Commissioning Coordinator position and expanding our in-house commissioning program and capabilities and staff involvement.

•Completing the second phase of our campus-wide thermal energy metering installation program. Using data we already have, we have begun to collect and track our energy usage relative to our benchmarks and projected savings.

•Implementing our operating protocols and giving our staff the opportunity to build on recent LEED training, as we strive to meet our LEED EB-established targets and operating objectives to achieve improved comfort, IAQ, financial standards, and resource conservation.

•Incorporating our reliability improvements to our building automation system, including shifting the associated servers to virtual servers and installing network failure notification software to improve IT response for reduced down time. Expanding on our BAS systems Energy Management capabilities. Leveraging our current auditing and benchmarking efforts to develop strategic opportunities for increased governmental incentive funding and programmatic level energy conservation programs within AU.

Return to top

Grounds Department Hosts Annual PGMS Field Day

American University took another step toward zero waste this summer by joining the Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise Program, the country's first national voluntary solid waste reduction program. One of 64 "partner" universities in the nation, AU agreed to establish three new waste prevention activities, expand or improve current recycling efforts on campus, purchase products with recycled content, and report weights of campus waste annually. To meet these goals, the Zero Waste Project Team has adopted the following key initiatives:

•Educate the AU community regarding AU's Zero Waste Initiative

•Expand organics collection campus-wide for composting and/or bio-digestion

•Invest in internal and external recycling and composting infrastructure

•Interface with procurement to replace materials that cannot be recycled, reused, or composted

•Continue partnership with housekeeping to achieve AU's zero waste goals in a team approach

We also signed up for two challenges developed by the WasteWise Program: Food Recovery Challenge and Electronics Challenge. Keep an eye out for our quarterly e-waste drives which debuted last spring, and campus-wide compost (organic waste) collection, which we aim to roll out in January 2013.

Return to top

AU Joins EPA WasteWise Program

American University took another step toward zero waste this summer by joining the Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise Program, the country's first national voluntary solid waste reduction program. One of 64 "partner" universities in the nation, AU agreed to establish three new waste prevention activities, expand or improve current recycling efforts on campus, purchase products with recycled content, and report weights of campus waste annually. To meet these goals, the Zero Waste Project Team has adopted the following key initiatives:

•Educate the AU community regarding AU's Zero Waste Initiative

•Expand organics collection campus-wide for composting and/or bio-digestion

•Invest in internal and external recycling and composting infrastructure

•Interface with procurement to replace materials that cannot be recycled, reused, or composted

•Continue partnership with housekeeping to achieve AU's zero waste goals in a team approach

We also signed up for two challenges developed by the WasteWise Program: Food Recovery Challenge and Electronics Challenge. Keep an eye out for our quarterly e-waste drives which debuted last spring, and campus-wide compost (organic waste) collection, which we aim to roll out in January 2013.

Return to top

New Facilities Staff and Facilities Staff Recognition

Andrew Ortega, Vehicle Maintenance

Andrew Ortega—Vehicle Maintenance

•Background – formerly Jiffy Lube Manager

•How did he find out about AU - Andrew is friends with Aramark Manager Donald MacIntire’s son, and found out about the AU position opening through the MacIntire family.

•Fun Fact - Andrew races bicycles (non-motorized) on the weekends. Andrew was especially excited, as bicycle racing was an event in this year’s Olympics.

Kristine de Leon—Office of the University Architect

My name is Kristine de Leon. I am an intern architect, who just graduated from Catholic University with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. I have been interning at OUA for the past year and have assisted with various projects, including renovations, signage, coordinating furniture moves, and space management. In addition, I had my first opportunity to visit the permit office! I am working on becoming a licensed architect and hope to have my own firm one day. When I am not working, I enjoy playing the bass guitar in an all-girl band, called Ivy Rose. We auditioned recently for America's Got Talent. I also enjoy cooking and hanging out with family and friends.

Brian Hamlin—Vehicle Maintenance

•Background - Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified and Registered State Inspector. Worked on cars since he was 15 years old.

•Why AU - Worked for a private auto shop in Gaithersburg, Md. and wanted to try something different. Interested in going back to school.

•Fun Fact - Brian races motorcycles on the weekends. Brian also likes to play golf (we will need to sign him up for next year’s AU Athletics Golf Tournament).

Congratulations To…

Helen Lee, Mike Wozney, Ade Adenekan and Onyel Gibson for being certified as LEED Green Associates!

Stephanie DeStefano and Janelle Freeman are the Grand Idea award winners for 2012.

Stephanie DeStefano for a sustainable pest management solution for the bees at the Public Safety Building, and Janelle Freeman for developing staff On-the-Job Lunch and Learns.

On the Spot Award Winners

•Eric Osborne, Linwood Hopkins, and Victor Gordon for streamlining the PM process.

•Juan Allen and Thomas Trang for creating a customized training video.

•Van Dewitt for going above and beyond to assist AuxS with rodent issue.

•Robby Watson for stepping outside of job duties to help organize and clean up Asbury during renovations.

•Martin Vasquez, Melvin Cook, and Ruben Chavez for their quick response to cleaning up campus and trees after storm.

•Shaun Pressley for identifying access problems before construction was complete and eliminating rework on a project.

•David Hill for ensuring the health and safety of another staff member.

•Tsefaye Dejene for being able to get a disabled bus moved swiftly to campus so as not to cause a disruption to traffic.

•Derrick Souder for driving the WCL route to meet shuttle needs.

Return to top

Ever Changing Asbury and Osborn Buildings

New reception area in Osborn

Physical changes are under way in Osborn and Asbury to accommodate FM’s organizational structure, a growing staff, more storeroom space, the combining of certain functions, and the need for a formal front door to the department. To address our evolving needs, Materials Supply will expand, BAS shop will move to the area formerly occupied by the lock shop, FRC staff will be relocated to the first floor of Osborn, and a reception area will be established on the south end of the first floor. Subsequent phases include installation of an awning on Osborn at the new reception area, creation of a new CRC and supervisors’ area and an eventual reconfiguration of space in the Grounds and Vehicle Maintenance areas.

Many FM staff members have provided input by offering creative ideas, and OUA assisted in the initial design process. As scheduling of changes under way is driven by many dependencies, one phase needs to be complete before another one can begin. Currently, we are installing furniture, awaiting furniture delivery, and scheduling moves within Osborn. Mindful of our budget and wherever possible, we also have been trying to adapt furniture to the newly reconfigured spaces. Once the changes have been completed, we anticipate more equity in space allocation and an overall look of professionalism.

We appreciate the insightful critique and creative input from everyone, as they have been invaluable in crafting the plan for new project phases and the plan to deal with the various issues that have been identified. Ray Leary has overseen the project, and Darrick Adkins has helped with furniture layout design and procurement. Please send questions about the project to Ray.

Return to top

Community Garden More Successful At Its New Location

This summer, AU’s community garden developed its communal roots, thanks to the efforts of two part-time (Facility Management) student workers, Vanessa Robertson and Shannon McArdle. They helped move the garden from its previous location near Nebraska Hall to its new home next to the tennis courts behind Bender Arena.

Vanessa and Shannon’s efforts already have paid off in delicious dividends. With the help, hard work, and dedication of other Community Garden members, the summer brought a bountiful harvest that enabled Vanessa and Shannon to host wonderful community food-related events. In addition to garden workdays, members participated in canning and cooking demonstrations, picnics, and tie-dye gatherings.

Recently, members of the AU Community Garden accepted an invitation to tour First Lady, Michelle Obama’s Kitchen Garden at the White House. The group came back with many ideas for planting to try in next year’s campus garden.

Interested in joining the AU Community Garden? Contact: au-community-garden@googlegroups.com or Stephanie DeStefano at extension 2544 for more information.

Return to top