Fewer cars on the road and mandatory business closures across the country have made ghost towns out of office and school buildings.
However, the essential maintenance personnel remaining inside have had alter the ways in which they manage our built environment. Many office workers have fluctuating schedules or work remotely full-time, hollowing their normally occupied spaces.
Maintenance workers who have also been sent to work remotely have to face even more difficult strategies for predicting how and when to alter energy usage, planning for when it is time to return power to equipment, or maintaining stock for addressing regular wear and tear of the building.
It is unlikely that anyone will be taking large measures to do things like replacing large machinery or complete a major refurbishment in the wake of the novel coronavirus. However, there are still tasks that maintenance workers are able to take care of that goes beyond deep cleaning and disinfecting rooms that may remain empty for weeks.
Changing the settings
Technological advances mean smarter buildings and easier control for those in building maintenance positions who have been working remotely. Security can be monitored live and tracking and adjusting the energy performance inside the building can be done offsite with sensors connected to the building’s infrastructure.
If you need to remain working inside your nearly empty building, be sure to check HVAC controls, water, and lighting controls to ensure they are all running at a low load. Even if the typical settings reflect low energy usage, they can usually be lowered even further during this time that the building is not fully occupied, effectively reducing monthly energy costs.
When the people who typically adjust the settings throughout the building to meet their comfort levels are no longer present, it is a good time to make necessary adjustments and consider the permanent usage adjustments to be made when normal occupancy resumes in your building.
We are all too familiar with stockrooms that have become overflowed with parts and chaotically disorganized. It makes sense—you’re in a rush to fix a leaking pipe and hastily sift through parts until you find the right one, and rush off to the job with no time to waste on putting everything back into designated spaces.
While you have the building all to yourself, or almost to yourself, it is a perfect opportunity to look for ways to consolidate and organize your workspace. It pays off quickly; especially you discover tools and parts you might have thought were long gone. You won’t order what you already have and that saves a lot of valuable time and money.
Prepare your facility for the common jobs that arise in your building by taking an inventory of what you already have and order any necessary tools or chemicals that you need.
The customizable assortment boxes offered by Best Plumbing Specialties are free when you order parts to fill them. They’re convenient because the carrying handle allows you to take the box filled with parts directly to the job site, and then you close it up and keep it on a space-saving storage rack when you’re done.
Time to experiment
Right now is the ideal time to try out something new, tear down a wall, or create a new normal within the building. While the building is unoccupied, nobody will be there to complain about the noise of a wall coming down to access a pipe behind it, and nobody can complain about a floor covered in dust.
Whether you need to catch up on all of the deferred maintenance projects around the facility, or there is a new gadget that might lead to more efficiency, now is a rare opportunity to consider everything that may have been left on the backburner for some time now.
The advances in technology come fast, and sometimes it can take time to get acclimated with a new system and to work out any bugs it may have. It’s the right time to make an upgrade to your building management system and to experiment with more adaptive sequences.
Getting caught up on all of the maintenance that has been deferred in your building will ultimately have your building running better. There is only so much time that a project can be deferred before it turns into a real problem, tackling everything that has been deferred now will create fewer problems in the future.
Every Monday morning it surprises me how few cars I see in the parking lot, that there aren’t people to greet as I walk up the stairs to the office, and that entire stretched of cubicles sit empty. This comes after I have already had some time to grow familiar with these temporary adjustments following a stay at home order from Larry Hogan in Maryland.
Typing on my keyboard in the office nearly echoes with how eerily loud it has become without the flurry of chatter surrounding me. But, while we have this period of time where buildings are unoccupied or barely occupied, we also need to understand how to shift our thinking just a little bit to managing an empty facility that is getting very little use.