Project Management as a Product: Daylighting Design with Ray Hamo, LC, CSWP
For our clients and customers, the value of lumenomics doesn't just center around our physical offerings but our service offerings. Forecasting challenges, quickly navigating unforeseen circumstances, and providing stakeholders peace of mind from pre-construction to occupancy is the true value we bring as daylight designers. To share more about how we successfully manage projects, we're talking to some of our best and brightest who operate at the construction process's critical junctions to deliver values on each project for key stakeholders.
Today, we're featuring Ray Hamo, LC, CSWP. As lumenomics' Design & Engineering Project Executive, Ray is present from the beginning of each design-build project to work with owners and architects- create integrative lighting designs that maximize natural daylight while meeting the design intents and needs of occupants. Balancing the expectations and needs of architects, owners, building codes and standards, future occupants, leading-edge lighting technology, and daylight design principles, Ray is responsible for setting each project up for success. Here's how.
LU: Hey Ray! Thanks for joining us today! Let's kick this thing off with an easy question. What's your role in the company, and what do you do?
RAY: I'm the engineering and design project executive. I focus on designing new products and creating the best lighting and daylighting designs for our projects and clients. Each design starts from selecting the right control system for projects to R&D and product improvement.
LU: When you enter a new project in the design phases, what are you looking to accomplish?
RAY: I want the owners and end-users to be happy at the end of a project, so I try to find the best solution that fits their needs and the needs of the space. I want the project to be simple and not complicated, especially for end-users to easily understand and manage their space after we deliver a project.
LU: What is your main focus when working with owners and architects to design a daylighting system?
RAY: I want to make sure they are happy and that everything gets delivered on time. I want to be sure that we're making it as easy as possible for them. What they care about isn't the end product, but how we get to that end product. How many wires we'll be running, what system we'll be using, where are we going to put the panels- stuff like that. I make sure to communicate a complex system to each stakeholder in ways that they can easily understand. I like to start these conversations early so that they know what to expect. I also make sure that my project managers know what's going on with the design, as design and construction are often separate teams.
LU: Between focusing on future occupants' needs, facilitating easy construction for GCs and architects, and discerning which products to use and integrate, you're weighing multiple factors at once. How do you strike that perfect balance to create a daylighting system?
RAY: My number one concern is future end-user comfort before anything else. I want to be sure the occupant is comfortable using and occupying the space, so I factor in many different considerations - everything from the climate zone of the space to the demographics of the occupants to how and when they plan to use the space. I try to automate the control as much as possible through different sensors, so the thermal and visual comfort of a space isn’t something the occupants think about while they’re inside. My other focus is efficiency and energy savings, both on the lighting and HVAC sides with heating and cooling. However, priorities differ from space to space, and so I’m often balancing out the two at the same time.
LU: What do owners and Architects typically miss during these first critical design phases?
RAY: There's a lot that's often missed, like energy-saving opportunities or the chance to develop strategies that make the system work without occupant complaints or high energy bills. Sometimes our clients understand a product does one thing, but what they may not know is that it can actually do more if you utilize the product in another way through integration. They often won't think of sun-sensing as well. For example, there are ways to intelligently automate roller shades outside of just setting a schedule. Rather than setting a schedule, you can harness natural daylight when it's needed and shield it when it's not. The automated window treatment can also connect with other daylighting systems through networked control. Because on most projects these systems are designed and delivered by different entities, the opportunity for a connected, automated system is often missed. Engaging a company that can design a holistic illumination system in the early design stage is key.
LU: Let's talk about controls. What goes into designing a control system for daylighting?
RAY: Well, the culture of space can absolutely affect the controls, but so does the building code. We do our homework to ensure that we know both our codes and occupants, but different spaces require different approaches depending on what they will be used for. It takes careful consideration and product expertise to discover the right control system. For instance, some LED dimmers change the lighting so gradually that it's imperceivable to occupants. This means that occupants will press a button to lower the light level, but they will think it's not working since they cannot see it change. They'll grow frustrated, clicking on remotes or switches to make it "work" until they accidentally break the controls or reprogram the system. These are the things I think about when it comes to controls.
LU: You've really gotta play the tape forward with these tiny details! How do you forecast other issues and problems in your role?
RAY: It's usually through the initial plans that we're able to identify issues. There are certain key elements of the building plans that I examine to make sure a design works or look for ways to improve it. For instance, the roof is a vital area for top-lighting opportunities, so I make sure to look at the materials, conditions, and space availability to ensure there is necessary support and space for top lighting products, such as Tubular Daylighting Devices, Fiber-optic Daylighting Systems, skylights, etc.
LU: What's your approach to solving problems you encounter?
RAY: It's not a single-person approach. When I see a problem come up, I start by including the Pre-con Director and Installation team in the discussion. With our combined experience, we've been through just about every single scenario imagineable. When we approach a challenge as a team, we make sure to never lose sight of the initial design intent and needs of occupants. We always start with identifying the actual challenge instead of what’s on the surface, and we design multiple solutions to compare against design intent, building limitations, and occupants' needs and maintenance beyond the delivery of a project.
LU: What's the value of working with lumenomics in the design stages?
RAY: Our experience. We have a lot of experienced people that have been in the industry for over 30 years. We use that experience to guide our customers from initial design phases through survey and installation, manufacturing, and then turnover and maintenance of the building. Almost always, the client doesn't completely understand what our daylighting devices are truly capable of, so we work to help them maximize that potential. It's not about selling them the most expensive product but finding the one that's best for their project.
LU: What do you enjoy most in your role?
RAY: In the end, I feel satisfied seeing the finished project and hearing positive feedback. That's what motivates me to do better in every single job to deliver what they need. It's fun. When you provide good work, and in the end, you see and hear excellent results... that's what drives me.
LU: What advice would you give regarding daylighting design to owners, contractors, and Architects?
RAY: Daylighting design should always be brought into the conversation at the very beginning of a project. However, it's never too late to begin designing a daylighting solution. There's a ton of value we can bring via daylight design, even at the end stages of a project where our initial scope is limited to installing just one product. There may be fewer opportunities as the project progresses, but we have experience with integrating our systems into existing infrastructure.
Quality daylight design means a healthier space for occupants. It's comfortable. It's energy-efficient. It's sustainable. When your occupants are able to thrive in the space they live, work, and play in, you are substantially lowering future costs of turnover, whether it’s residential or commercial. Occupants unable to easily understand and manage space is the most expensive problem a building can have. In an office setting, if employees aren't able to focus on their work and their productivity is diminished, that is a huge cost. Quality daylight design mitigates costs spent on the biggest line item in a building's budget - the future occupants.