The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center’s recently completed renovation more than doubled its size, from 540,000 to 1.3 million square feet.
SAN ANTONIO - The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center here recently completed a $218 million, six-year renovation and expansion project. The project more than doubled the facility's size from 540,000 square feet to more than 1.3 million.

The convention center hosts many thousands of convention-goers each year attending everything from cultural events to major national sporting events, like the NCAA Men's Final Four basketball tournament.

The biggest challenge and top priority for San Antonio, like any city, is ensuring the safety and well-being of building occupants. Furthermore, in a climate of tight operating budgets and taxpayer accountability, achieving occupant safety and comfort with highly reliable yet cost-efficient systems, is no small task.

Robert Carr, building maintenance manager, and his building staff of 46 work for Convention Facilities (the city department that oversees the maintenance and control of the convention center building systems for the city of San Antonio), know it's necessary to maintain peak performance of equipment and systems - not only to help balance the city's books by keeping energy and operating costs down, but to meet the expectations of convention sponsors and guests.

"Our clients sometimes book conventions 10 years in advance," says Carr. "They expect everything to work perfectly, so we need a partner to help us meet their demands."

Achieving occupant safety and comfort with highly reliable yet cost-efficient systems, is no small task. The building systems in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center have been protected by a Honeywell maintenance service contract.

Integrated System Improves Control

The building systems in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center have been protected by a Honeywell maintenance service contract that includes everything from HVAC, fire, and security system services to training and building system integration.

In addition to maintenance services, Honeywell provides a variety of building systems and control solutions for the convention center, including automation, temperature control, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) for the convention center's facilities. All building controls and points, including legacy systems and GE lighting, are integrated for monitoring, controlling, and operating alarms.

Carr and his staff continuously monitor all building points, from alarm status to zone-by-zone temperatures, on four PC-based workstations in the main offices of the Maintenance Division.

Complex, sensitive equipment like fire alarm controls, smoke and fire detectors, and pull stations require ongoing inspections and maintenance, both for safety reasons and for regulatory compliance. The preventive maintenance service agreement includes a computer-scheduled diagnostic and maintenance program and 24-hour emergency dispatch of trained technicians in case of an alarm or emergency repairs.

"If there's a problem, technicians come in a flash," says Carr, adding that they use wireless information systems that provide quick access to equipment and building data. "We need all of our systems to run well all of the time," says Carr, "so we get immediate service response in the event of a breakdown."

For immediate access to service records, work orders, and account information, Carr and his staff can go online with the ServicePortal application. The tool allows facility managers to view technical resolution details, contract and equipment coverage, and service histories.

Maintenance Protects HVAC Investment

Maintaining consistent control and energy-efficient temperatures in large facilities like the convention center helps ensure consistent comfort and predictable energy savings. A building's HVAC components and mechanical systems can account for up to 40 percent of initial building costs; vigilant preventive maintenance not only prevents costly and inconvenient business disruptions, it also extends equipment life and protects the value of system investments.

Having a full-maintenance service contract provides San Antonio Convention Facilities management with the assurance that the building's systems will operate reliably and cost effectively. The result is increased equipment uptime with fewer breakdowns and resulting repairs.

Comprehensive and accessible information is the key to efficient building operations and maintenance, points out Honeywell. The system integrates and coordinates all maintenance scheduling, giving Carr and his staff maximum control over maintenance scheduling, tracking, labor, and material costs.

"[The] automated programs really improve staff productivity," says Carr. He also appreciates the variety of programs that provide reports and trending on equipment and energy use, automation programs, maintenance scheduling, and more.

"For the most part, our systems and applications are so easy to use that all my staff needs to do is move a mouse and click," notes Carr.

As system applications and software evolve and become more efficient, the convention center won't be left behind. Honeywell's automation maintenance services include evaluation of current programs, programming and operator assistance, remote diagnostics, and preventive maintenance on computer hardware.

While the city stays on top of the latest technology, their maintenance coverage gives them crucial cost-saving benefits as well. "We know we're saving the city money," says Carr. He adds that it takes minimal effort to be proactive about scheduling money-saving preventive maintenance.

"We don't miss a beat when it's time for calibration and cleaning, equipment and software upgrades, component repairs and more. It's a very good feeling when everything runs smoothly."

Publication date: 10/04/2004