How should Facility Managers prepare buildings and physical assets for winter?
Preventive maintenance is key to preparing buildings and physical assets for winter, mitigating problems, and reducing overall costs.
As we move from the warm summer weather into cold autumn and winter climate, facility managers must plan to ensure facilities can mitigate risks.
Think of preparing buildings and physical assets for winter as an investment in insurance.
Ensure HVAC is a Top Performer
In particular, adequately protecting the HVAC system from potential destruction caused by extreme weather conditions will improve its performance and lifespan. In addition, investing in preparation and maintenance now will help avert costly spending on repairs later.
Energy savings Consider how various spaces are used throughout the building. For example, if the facility has a conference room used once a week for an hour-long meeting, a gym, a warehouse, and a shared office space occupied 40 hours a week.
All of these spaces require different cooling and heating needs. The conference room, for example, doesn't need to be constantly heated if it's unoccupied. So the way the facility manager approaches the needs of the different spaces has a significant impact on occupant comfort and the facility's utility bills.
Occupant comfort Making sure tenants and visitors are comfortable is essential. For example, being in the building when the heat turns on for the first time can be unpleasant.
Disaster prevention Prevent frozen and bursting water pipes. If any water systems freeze, this can cause catastrophic equipment failures, infrastructure damage from water leaks, or life safety issues.
Inspect the Roof Now
If the roof has not been inspected recently, include it in winter preparation checklists. Doing this helps ensure the roof is in good condition going into inclement winter weather. Temperature changes and precipitation during the winter season are harsh on a roof.
Preventative maintenance is the most important thing you can do to ensure a healthy roof and a stable budget. Preventing problems before they begin will go a long way toward avoiding costly repairs and replacements.
Evaluate Regularly Each autumn and spring, assess to verify the integrity of the structure and identify and damage before and after the harsh conditions of winter.
Minor problems quickly become significant problems; for example, a seemingly trivial leak left unaddressed will not only worsen but will lead to rot and other structural damage, which could ultimately require replacement. Catching these minor issues right away helps avert bigger and costlier problems.
Equip Entryways for the Season
High-traffic entryways in Commercial and Residential Buildings should also be part of winter preparation. In particular, floors require extra attention. Lamentably, materials used to keep pavement safe such as sand, grit, and salt often gets dragged inside and behave like sandpaper on the flooring. Further, it isn't easy to clean.
Employ safety mats and rugs This strategy is critical for commercial buildings. Best practices for placing carpets and rugs in entryways suggest there should be five to ten feet of coarse matting outside the building, five to ten feet of matting directly inside the building, and five to ten feet directly behind it.
Set up signage Use clear signs and indicators to direct people to where they should go effectively.
Concierge care Consider adding or changing building attendants, so they are available in the entryway and lobby during lousy weather.
Add deep cleaning to the agenda Schedule heavy-duty floor work around the inclement weather season. For example, plan to do it before winter to protect and after to correct.
Install hand sanitizer Strategically and adequately place hand sanitizer throughout entryways and communal spaces. This works wonders in protecting occupants.
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