What does building maintenance have to do with sustainable buildings? How does building maintenance impact a building’s energy use?
Going green is a major subject that is discussed in nearly every part of our life.
This transition extends beyond what we do, but also where and how we do it. To keep the lights on and assets working, buildings need a lot of energy.
While facility managers are striving for more sustainable buildings and development, this does not account for the millions of older structures that are still in use today.
This is why sustainable practices in construction, as well as building maintenance and management, are of extreme importance.
What Is a Sustainable Building?
Simply put, sustainable buildings are designed, constructed, and maintained in a way that minimizes their impact on the environment.
Green or sustainable buildings are focused on protecting and conserving the environment at a local front. They are designed to use less energy and employ sustainable maintenance strategies for preventing wastage.
Many think that sustainable buildings turn out to be expensive in the long run.
But in reality, these buildings prove to be more energy-efficient and can have a lower overall cost if you use the right approach.
Why Do We Need Sustainable Buildings?
Green buildings used to be avoided because of added expenses. However, now sustainable buildings actually help in reducing the overall cost. They reduce energy consumption and also increase overall revenue. Clients and customers favor businesses that employ sustainable practices.
What Are the Principles of Sustainability?
Sustainable building principles incorporate different elements that are aimed at net-zero impact.
Here are a few of the principles which are part of sustainability initiatives:
- Using renewable technology and energies;
- Reducing waste;
- Reducing wastewater;
- Using ethical materials;
- Reducing pollution and carbon emissions;
- Creating a safer and cleaner working environment through sustainable facility maintenance, such as improving indoor air quality by replacing air filters as scheduled;
- Using environmentally friendly and green methods and processes for construction and maintenance.
Why Is Building Maintenance Important?
Building maintenance and management might look intimidating for leasers or companies that own large buildings. It may even appear needless to some, especially if the structure is in good working order.
There are, however, several factors that make regular and proper building maintenance vital and imperative. Natural causes such as daily tenant use, climate, and other variables lead every building to lose its efficiency over time.
These issues can devalue user experience and create an unhealthy, even dangerous indoor environment if left unresolved. Building owners or managers may start experiencing higher costs or sudden maintenance expenses because of frequent damages and disrepair.
With the entire world working towards a greener future, sustainability has become part of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Building maintenance is an important component of sustainability that is being driven by governments all over the world. Additionally, organizations and consumers feel better in dealing with a business that uses sustainable practices, even if it is for managing their commercial properties.
This is one of the reasons why facility managers are increasingly adopting the triple bottom line which takes into account social, environmental, and economic benefits.
What Are The Elements Of Sustainable Buildings?
Sustainable buildings don’t just include green materials, but also include green practices while carrying out repair work or preventative maintenance.
The right maintenance engineers are necessary to ensure that your facility minimizes its carbon footprint and environmental impact.
These are a few of the most important elements of sustainable buildings:
1. Enough Insulation
Insulation allows a building to retain heat, which directly reduces energy consumption. Your building maintenance engineer will monitor insulation installation in walls, floors, and ceiling. He will also add modifications, such as drywall where there is less insulation.
2. Tight Ventilation
If you want to lower your HVAC energy consumption, you need fewer gaps in the building. Carpentry is an important aspect of airtightness. You might need to hire facility engineering contractors to find out potential air gaps in the building and block them to lock in conditioned air.
Loss of conditioned air is equal to the loss of money.
3. Natural Light
You can reduce your dependency on artificial light by maximizing the amount of natural light entering the commercial facility.
While you may still need light bulbs, you can reduce their usage by installing skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows.
4. Use Green Materials
Once a building is constructed, it falls on the maintenance supervisor to ensure that all maintenance activities are performed sustainably.
The work order system should include sustainable practices and methods. For instance, only EPA-certified cleaning solutions should be used by janitors, even if the job is outsourced.
5. Sustainable Structural System
There are several types of structural systems that can be employed to construct a building. For instance, building owners can choose a timber frame, insulated concrete framework (ICF), brick and block, block and block, and monolithic clay blocks among others.
You need to choose the right structural system at the blueprints stage, afterward, it’s too late and the entire design would need a complete change.
Sustainability And Building Maintenance
The highest management levels must promote sustainability as a culture. Employees should be willing to do everything it takes to keep the building green.
Each process, product, and procedure should be evaluated by an experienced facility maintenance engineer to ensure compliance with sustainability guidelines.
Maintenance becomes an important focal point once the building is complete and commissioned. It measures the environmental impact to keep the premise in its original condition. Strategies are developed for reusing, recycling, conserving, and cleaning.
Work orders are made for specific tasks, such as regular maintenance of the HVAC system, boilers, and plumbing among other operations of equipment. It is the responsibility of the facility maintenance supervisor to ensure that purchase of building materials and replacement equipment is done as per proper guidelines.
Budgetary restrictions have always been an important consideration in facility maintenance and management. This is why maintenance supervisors need to employ critical thinking to come up with unique solutions.
Coordination is also an integral component of sustainable building maintenance. Fortunately, materials producers in recent years have recognized the importance of going green to offer products that are less damaging to the ecosystem.
Why Do We Need Maintenance Engineering In Sustainable Buildings?
Maintenance Engineering is a major part of sustainable maintenance. This is because equipment cannot run properly without regular care. Also, any machinery that doesn’t run the way it is intended to will add to environmental waste and harm.
For instance, if you don’t perform annual maintenance on your HVAC system, which contributes to 30% of any building’s energy usage, you are waiting for a costly error to occur. Ducts and air filters will get blocked resulting in an excess intake of energy.
You would also have to deal with unexpected repairs that would require additional materials. Waste of resources adds to a commercial building’s environmental impact.
Consulting engineers and architects constantly strive to reduce the energy use of a building for conserving valuable natural resources and reducing air pollution.
Maintenance engineers perform another critical function of anticipating and preventing breakdowns through preventative maintenance.
How Can Building Maintenance Reduce a Building’s Energy Use?
Today’s businesses are increasingly focused on ways to cut down their utility and energy expenditures. The property’s management team can play a major role in achieving utility savings goals and cutting back on energy costs.
For example, regular planned preventive maintenance on HVAC units, air handlers, and windows can identify any energy leaks. This provides insight into equipment performance and ways to improve the performance with replacement and repairs.
Every piece of equipment has unique schematics and specifications. This makes it necessary to employ or contract an experienced team of facilities maintenance engineers. The building maintenance staff has the run of the place after-hours, and they can be trained to turn off lights that are not in use.
Security personnel can be asked to double-check whether all equipment is turned off. Operating costs can also be reduced by running equipment and systems more efficiently. For instance, you can consider replacing single-speed motors with variable-speed drives in your HVAC system if it is an older model.
This will prevent the motors from working at full capacity at all times and reduce the energy load of the building.
Building managers and owners can discuss ways of reducing energy consumption with a qualified building maintenance engineer. You can significantly reduce energy consumption by adapting your building and all equipment.
How Your Maintenance Team Can Reduce Energy Use
Your maintenance team plays a major role in reducing the carbon impact of a building.
How do they bring such a major impact?
1. HVAC Systems
The team can ensure all upgrades, maintenance, and repair work is carried out in time. This can ensure the HVAC system runs at full efficiency, which will reduce the overall energy consumption.
Lights and other electrical fixtures are usually left on by workers and other staff when they leave the building. The cleaning or maintenance staff can be instructed to switch off everything that is not in use.
This little step can lower utility bills by almost 10% in a year.
The facility maintenance supervisor can place robust controls and measures in place to save energy usage. This can be in the form of tweaking thermostat temperatures to keep the indoor temperature comfortable while reducing energy consumption. It can also include controls, such as turning off the coffee machine in the pantry when not in use.
How Building Maintenance Impacts Energy Use
Green and sustainable building is a team effort. It includes everything from designing and construction to maintenance. Increasing energy consumption is a major component of climate change.
Adequate and timely building maintenance measures can reduce utility bills, energy consumption, and carbon footprint.
Energy savings is a two-fold approach – reducing the amount of energy consumed and using renewable sources. The maintenance team plays a critical role in the first approach. Steps can be taken to prevent unnecessary energy wastage.
Benefits Of Building Maintenance (Time/Cost/Labor)
1. Save Time
You don’t need to worry about equipment failure. You can save time by outsourcing maintenance tasks to an experienced asset management company.
2. Reduce Cost
Repairs can be expensive when not performed in time. You can ask the maintenance team members to employ energy-conserving methods that will overall reduce costs.
3. Protect Labor
It is the responsibility of a building owner or manager to ensure all occupants have decent air quality and working conditions.
Timely maintenance of different systems and equipment can ensure good working conditions for everyone.
Maintenance Engineering to Make Sustainable Buildings Operate
building maintenance engineering is important for making sustainable building operations. A building can be constructed in a sustainable and green manner. However, without adequate measures, controls, and proper practices, the building will not remain sustainable.
Maintenance engineers take into account various blueprints, schematics, and diagrams to understand how a particular facility functions. Their next step is to work closely with the facility maintenance team to employ green and sustainable practices.
Building Maintenance Checklist
These are a few important maintenance tasks that should be part of every sustainable maintenance checklist:
- Waste reduction;
- Improving indoor air quality;
- Resource conservation;
- Responsible procurement;
- Alternative transportation;
- Cleaning audits.
Tips For Building Maintenance
The following tips can help you ensure that your building follows sustainable practices:
- Train everyone on sustainability methods and principles;
- Monitor equipment and asset performance;
- Employ preventive maintenance techniques;
- Employ ‘smart’ technologies;
- Work with environmentally responsible materials.
The Future of Sustainable Facility Management is Here
Servi-Tek Facility Solutions employs innovative and proven measures to ensure their clients can minimize their carbon emissions and footprint.
We understand that creating a greener facility doesn’t just help the environment, but also reduces costs and brings in revenue.
Whether you’re not sure where to start, or doubt the efficiency of your current methods, ask us any questions you want and let us guide you towards your sustainability goals.
Give us a call today or use our online form to get in touch with us.