The complex, interrelated technology systems used in today’s building construction projects are increasingly reliant on Internet connectivity to transfer data within and among these systems and apply it in meaningful ways. From data and voice communications systems to integrated AV, electronic security, and building automation, the Internet of Things has never been more apparent or important for a building project’s ultimate success. So why don’t architects, engineers, construction managers and building owners use technology consultants specializing in Communications, Life Safety and Automation (CLA) systems like they do when it comes to MEP systems?
Technology systems involve “wires” which architects have traditionally viewed as the electrical engineer’s concern, even though low-voltage technology systems have little in common with their power-distribution counterparts. Technology systems are viewed as the owner’s responsibility to be handled during construction even though these systems use physical pathways and spaces that are more efficiently addressed during project design.
An independent CLA systems consulting firm with registered designers operates at a peer level with MEP consultants and brings value to all parties on both sides of the bid line:
- During project planning and design, the CLA Technology Consultant helps interpret and define the project owner’s technology systems needs for the architect including development of systems standards, specifications and budgets. The Consultant can then act at the lead technology systems design firm or focus on one or several specific system designs (e.g., AV and security).
- Once the project crosses the bid line, the CLA Technology Consultant serves a number of important functions during the build and manage phases:
- Intermediary between the architect and CM/GC to ensure owner’s technology system needs are met.
- Construction Manager for all or designated project CLA systems.
- Electronic documentation manager with secure cloud-based facilities documentation system and related services.
Oftentimes a CLA Technology Consultant will be brought into a project during construction when Change Orders are the only way to address technology infrastructure issues. It’s best to bring Tech Consultants during project planning to ensure adequate funding and a holistic approach to the “Fourth Utility.”
– Tom Rauscher, FCSI, President, Archi-Technology