Insights

Lockdown lowdown: operating your building.

14/04/2020

Author:
Sheldon Mann, Partner &, Eimear Moloney, Head of Performance

Key questions for property service managers.

Looking at our UK building stock in this time of country-wide lockdown, we are seeing two extremes.

The first is that a great deal of buildings are now almost completely empty – if not fully.

In contrast, there are many that are being over utilised, providing valuable space for the vital work needed to keep society safe and healthy.

For both situations, there are a number of important building performance issues that might arise and variety of questions to consider.

  1. Remote control
    If you have remote access to your Building Management System (BMS) it would be worth checking to see if the systems have responded to the change in demand. For instance, do your timeclocks need to change? Has your ventilation ramped down or up? Are systems off when buildings are empty?
  2. Water health
    Has valve exercising and regular flushing been built into your current BMS and is it working? This is important to maintain water quality and reduce the risk of bacterial growth etc. Is there capacity to adjustthe stored water volume to reduce the growth of bacterium in any stagnant water systems?
  3. Manual support
    If not operated by the BMS, are critical maintenance staff able to turn over pumps and fans on a minimum weekly basis. If the current shut-down goes on for a long period, it might be worth checking whether your building system has gone into summer mode.
  4. Essential repairs
    If inspections and/or repairs are required make sure to check government policy before proceeding. The silver lining for those needed for empty buildings is that they are likely to be much easier and quicker to complete without a busy workforce to work around.
  5. The other side
    Once people are able to return to buildings, don’t forget to check your ventilation systems for dust and bacterial build-up. Also, be sure to go through your legionella risk assessment procedure, including your sterilisation protocol, for a prolonged shut-down.

Current building design allows for short periods of general down time i.e. bank holidays etc, however they aren’t usually suited to prolonged periods of closure.

 

However, the good news is that most buildings are designed to be able to adapt to changes in use, we just need to make sure that these changes have been implemented.

If you have a specific question, query or concern that’s not outlined here, simply get in touch and we can help you access further advice, guidance and assistance.

Sheldon Mann & Eimear Moloney