As an FM, it will definitely not come as a surprise to you that the vast majority of tenant complaints are about the building being too hot or too cold, far surpassing other problems such as lighting, noise levels and space limitations. While you might not think a few degrees too hot or cold is going to result in your tenants fleeing, businesses are become increasingly aware of the impact office comfort can have on results.
Being uncomfortable with the level of heating can seriously affect an office tenant’s bottom-line (according to one study, workers who are too cold made more errors and this resulted in an increase to a worker’s hourly labor cost by 10 percent!).
Too many times, issues with building temperature arise because of outdated, reactive approaches to building management. Budgets are tight; as an FM you're constantly pushed to make savings and increase efficiencies so you cut costs where you can. But deferred maintenance aka skipping scheduled maintenance to save money is a terrible strategy which will cost you big in the long term. Maybe that check up doesn’t fit in with your tight annual budget, but if you miss it, it’s likely to result in costly equipment to failure or malfunction in the next quarter.
This is where a proactive management style can help you keep tenants happy and cut costs over the long-term. It’s just a fact that poorly functioning HVAC systems are more expensive to run so just think about that next time you’re doing your annual budget. Proactive management is about understanding, calculating and communicating how each preventative maintenance investment we make will impact our bottom line. Look at it this way, compared to reactive maintenance, proactive HVAC maintenance:
- Can save, on average, about 30-40% in maintenance costs by reducing emergency repairs
- Can reduce tenant complaints by almost 50%
- Can increase energy savings by 20-25%
So what does a proactive HVAC maintenance strategy look like in real terms?
We recommend that you should:
- Inspect HVAC systems at least twice a year, including seasonal start-up and run inspections;
- Have a qualified mechanical contractor conduct seasonal preventive maintenance of chillers and boilers;
- Conduct in-depth inspections and cleaning of cooling towers once a year;
- Annually, at least, lubricate pumps, inspect couplings and check for leaks. Always investigate unusual noises.
- Install and use FILTERSCAN® WiFi to alert you to when your air-handling unit filter needs cleaning or replacement.
If you think you’ll have trouble convincing your key financial stakeholders of the importance of proactive HVAC maintenance, remember to show them your plans as an investment. It will require that you have a detailed understanding of equipment equipment costs, maintenance costs and energy efficiency savings as they relate to impact on the bottom line. Forecasting life-cycle costs will allow you to understand how much it costs your building owners NOT to conduct regular HVAC maintenance.
Communicating these proactive management techniques to key financial stakeholders will drastically improve your relationship with them as you demonstrate the long-term low cost/ high impact of regular HVAC maintenance while reducing tenant complaints and operating costs. It’s win-win!