Now more than ever, it’s important to keep our buildings “healthy”. For many of us, the places we work, shop, dine, exercise, and learn in make up a large percentage of our time spent indoors. COVID-19 challenged that norm, and we have spent significantly less time in these public spaces in the last year. Your heating and cooling systems play a larger role in the health of your building than you may think. Without a functional HVAC system, your building and the people inside it will suffer. Building owners and facility managers have been presented with several changes and challenges in how they should be approaching building health and maintenance of mechanical systems.
CHALLENGE #1: UNOCCUPIED BUILDINGS
The first major obstacle with heating and cooling right now is the simple fact that a large number of buildings have been sitting empty or largely unoccupied for almost an entire year. A building that has been sitting empty for a long time needs to be “warmed up” like an old car that has been in your grandparents’ garage. Buildings that are expected to go from zero to hero overnight often experience a high number of unplanned outages, costly failures and even some dangerous life-threating environments in the first few months after being brought back to life.
THE SOLUTION: Re-commissioning Mechanical Systems
These risks can be minimized or eliminated with a focused effort around re-commissioning mechanical systems when they come out of statis. The re-commissioning process does not need to be overly intrusive, but should include a thoughtful and thorough start-up and test run by an experienced heating and cooling professional that understands what the data they gather from each unit means to the health of the building. During this process, most major risks can be identified and itemized so that facility leaders can prioritize spend to continue to ensure their clients have a safe and comfortable space when they return to the office. Much like doctor recommended physical therapy after a surgery, this process teaches our buildings to function again under the direct supervision of experienced heating and cooling professionals.
CHALLENGE # 2: BUILDING SYSTEMS BEING USED DIFFERENTLY
The second hurdle we now face as we slowly return to public spaces is the role heating and cooling systems play on other building systems. Modern buildings are living things, each system in a building has been designed with the proper function of the other sometimes nonrelated systems in mind. This symbiotic relationship when working properly is why modern buildings, on the surface can feel self-sustaining and problem free. If a building has one system that is not functioning properly, it can throw off the function and performance of other buildings systems. For example, just recently we responded to a call for one of our customers that had a major water leak. This leak went undetected for some time and was responsible for the loss of a substantial amount of property. In this case the building had never seen this issue before because design conditions of the building’s heating and cooling systems were working properly with design intentions from the building’s capacity system. As winter progresses, we can expect to see more surprise situations like this that are caused not by the failure of the heating and cooling system, but by the effects that utilizing our buildings differently may uncover.
THE SOLUTION: HVAC Preventative Maintenance Plan
Working with your HVAC maintenance provider to ensure all your building’s systems are running correctly can help prevent expensive emergencies like frozen pipes or mold growth. An experienced HVAC technician will be able to look at how all of the systems should interact per design and prescribe a plan to prevent issues and protect the facility.
CHALLENGE #3: Making People Feel Safe inside their buildings
The third, and potentially largest challenge that facility managers will face in the coming year is the fear that people may have about being inside their buildings again. Now more than ever, people want to feel safe in the spaces where they work, dine, heal, learn, and live.
THE SOLUTION: Improving Indoor Air Quality
We have seen quick adoption of some great technology that if implemented correctly can give peace of mind to occupants, patients, and employees. HVAC contractors have solutions for improving and monitoring air quality. By working with an experience HVAC technician, you will get a solution based on your facility’s specific needs. A custom heating and cooling maintenance plan will help ensure that you are providing the safest and most comfortable environment possible inside the buildings we work, learn, heal, dine, exercise, and live in.
MMC: Your Trusted Heating & Cooling Contractor
At MMC, we will provide HVAC services that will help you deal with the challenges you may face throughout this upcoming year. Our team can provide preventative maintenance plans that take into account how your building’s systems are being used to keep them functioning the way they should be. If your unoccupied building is going to be opened back up, we can re-commission your heating and cooling system so your building can open without an issue. MMC also can provide HVAC technology that improves indoor air quality to make people feel safe about entering your building. To learn more about how MMC can keep your building healthy, contact us today.