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Maintenance Helps Achieve Green Building Goals

January 21, 2013 | 0 comments

Man washing windows on commercial buildingOperations and maintenance programs can help your organization reach some of its green goals without any significant capital investment. This has the potential to make a favorable difference for the facilities management budget. Depending on repair and maintenance costs, tax savings could be significant when maintenance investments can be made vs. capital facility improvements.

Through its CURB (Concentrated Upgrade and Repair of Buildings) program, the University of Wisconsin-Madison established an initiative to achieve long-term savings in repair and renovation by putting resulting energy and water savings toward maintenance costs.

Reducing energy use and installing energy-efficient lighting, HVAC, building envelope materials and systems, and other systems are good initial steps toward more sustainable facilities. But making sure these building systems operate effectively for as long as possible takes your green building program to the next level. Otherwise, lack of maintenance can lead to energy usage inefficiencies, system breakdowns, increased operating costs, water damage, moldy environments, poor IAQ, and a long list of other challenges.

Creating a preventive maintenance plan will help you identify equipment problems early, reduce energy and water usage, potentially lengthen equipment life, and possibly reduce operating costs. According to operations management consulting firm T.A. Cook, organizations that establish holistic preventive maintenance programs often find their total costs reduced by up to 40 to 50 percent.

With examples such as this one from Goodway, it’s easy to understand how proper maintenance can lead to reduced costs. At a manufacturing facility, a building management system was being installed to increase efficiency. Upon checking to make sure wiring was being carried to the units correctly, a problem was noted by Goodway: Air filters were plugged, several belts were loose, condenser coils were dirty, and economizers weren’t functioning due to lack of lubrication. In an attempt to achieve energy savings, the manufacturing facility had installed efficient systems – but without making it a priority to maintain them. Imagine the lost efficiency and extra costs due to these HVAC problems, which were caused by lack of maintenance.

The first step in developing a maintenance program is to collect accurate data about your facility and all of its systems. Conduct an assessment of the building’s condition, along with when repairs and upgrades were made to each system. For example, when it comes to a building’s HVAC system, you’ll want to document how old the system is, parts that have been replaced, problems the system has had, repairs that have been made, the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and maintenance, etc.

Prioritize systems by degree of importance and how they affect safety, operational performance, or comfort. Maintenance plants should be created for these systems first.

Then, document your plan for preventive maintenance moving forward. Make sure all members of your staff are involved in creating this plan. Which tasks need to be completed, and how often? Will the tasks be completed by internal facilities management staff, or will they require help from a third party? Once the plan is in place, monitor the systems for problems and breakdowns. It will help you analyze the effectiveness of your maintenance plan and make any necessary adjustments.

We want to know: Have you seen preventive maintenance programs pay off for your facility?

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