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Building Systems Group: Enhancing our customers’ experience through planning and prevention

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Building Systems Group: Enhancing our customers’ experience through planning and prevention


You are so excited – your new office building is finally complete, just in time to attract those bright college interns you hope will eventually choose to join your company. Everything is shiny and new. Yet, Charlotte is always cold, and Ben is always too hot. Why don’t the systems you’ve paid for work as expected?

Customers rely on W.M. Jordan Company’s Building Systems Group (BSG) to help prevent these types of problems. The BSG is an internal company resource for all things pipes, wires, and ducts. Led by a licensed professional engineer, the group includes engineers and trades people with extensive field experience in plumbing, electrical, and mechanical (MEP) systems.

The biggest benefit comes during the preconstruction phase of a project. MEP systems can account for up to 50% of the project cost. It’s an incredible investment requiring extensive coordination so that everything works as intended.

Chad Blalock, a licensed mechanical engineer, leads the Building Systems Group. “Every dollar a customer spends on pipes, wires, and ducts is a dollar spent on things they can’t see,” Chad said. “We work to make sure the budget has room for the things that attract kids to a dormitory, talent to an office building, or patrons to a museum.”

Beginning with the end of the project in mind, the BSG gets involved early in preconstruction to align the project goals with its budget. They analyze plans and specifications at 30% Schematic Design and 60% Design Development to prevent budget busts when the estimators bid the project based on final contract documents. They perform studies to balance first cost against long-term maintenance and operations cost, applying lessons learned from past projects along the way.

“We use our experience to understand what will be needed even if it isn’t drawn yet. There are soft clashes that won’t show up in a Building Information Model, but will become an operational issue affecting the experience of the end user,” Chad noted. “Take the location of HVAC filters, for example. If they are located over a desk, they are hard to get to, and people won’t change them.”

Working with vendors – building controls, fire alarm, and equipment such as HVAC and lighting fixtures – can be surprisingly expensive. We ask our trade partners for help in understanding labor cost, material cost, markups, and availability of both labor and materials. Relationships built over time help our estimators generate accurate cost estimates and value options.

“Building is a risky endeavor. Our real goal is enhancing our customer’s experience by preventing surprises,” Chad said. “It’s an incredible benefit, but one that is rarely seen because people don’t notice the problems you’ve prevented, only when problems arise. You don’t know what would have happened if no one was paying attention.”

The benefits of the group’s expertise continue through construction. “We attend weekly meetings and walk the job, getting involved in complicated, technical submittal reviews and coordination between trades,” Chad said. “When faced with problems, rather than just push people to get things done, we are part of the solution. What are our options and what can we do to get it right? We look at cost, scope of work, operational impacts. We have the technical expertise to understand what is actually happening and can develop options and solutions.”

Chad Blalock, P.E., LEED AP, leads W.M. Jordan Company’s Building Systems Group. Chad is a registered professional engineer with 18 years of experience helping clients maximize their investment through careful analysis of building systems and their impact to the bottom line.

Chad holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech. Certifications in Contractor’s Quality Control and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) add to his expertise. Chad is a member of the AGC of Virginia and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers. Reach him at [email protected].