Top five ways to help the community during crisis

April 2020

We are currently living through a period of uncertainty and concern that we'll never forget. Like many of you, we are trying to do what we can to help the community navigate this challenging time.

As contractors your ecosystem includes property owners, lenders and other contractors in the community. During this time all of them need support to ensure that buildings have appropriate ventilation, water, heat, roofing and other essentials for their new usage patterns during the pandemic.

Top 5 ways you can help the community:

Ventilation of Multifamily, Healthcare Facilities, and Assisted Living Facilities

Ventilation and air filtration systems are more important now than ever. Faulty or suboptimal systems could in the worst cases facilitate COVID-19 transmission, but also impact general indoor air quality and daily respiratory health and resilience -- which are particularly important to upkeep in order to mitigate COVID-19 impacts to individuals. ASHRAE recommends improving air filters to MERV-13 and increasing outdoor air ventilation during the mild weather season. Yet, these systems are often de-prioritized or run-to-fail, risking suboptimal performance. This risk increases the more the system is used, and now that people are staying home more and hospitals are strained, these systems are working overtime. During these times of heightened risk, building operators cannot afford for these systems to fail. Contact your neighboring businesses to remind them of the importance of proactive maintenance and optimal performance. Ask them to check on their system status or offer to check for them.

Refrigeration of Cold Storage Facilities

In a matter of just days, the demands on Cold Storage Facilities increased dramatically. Grocers and medical suppliers need to restock more frequently, requiring more delivery miles and more stock churn per week than ever before. This puts increasing demands on refrigeration systems. For systems that are already near or beyond their recommended useful life, property owners should be on the look out. You can help them look for signs that systems are nearing failure and understand the higher cost of emergency repairs, so that repairs or replacements can be made during scheduled downtime instead of during a critical period that puts their much needed supplies at risk.

Managing downtime at under utilized facilities

For many commercial building owners, now is a difficult time. Their buildings are not being used. Their tenants may be struggling with rent. And yet they still need to pay the bills. Helping these buildings save money and manage costs quickly are urgent needs. You can help them to manage the downtime of critical equipment that they would be unable to manage on their own because you know what can be completely shut down, what can operated at a minimum energy consumption level beyond the conventional specification, and what must continue to be operated within specifications. Ramping down HVAC systems with variable speed motors and pumps, adding “pony” or smaller chillers/boilers, balancing and tuning building management controls, fixing or replacing broken VAV boxes, and adding lighting timers or sensors are just a few ideas to improve building performance and reduce costs of under-utilized spaces.

Managing uptime at overly utilized facilities

The way we use buildings fundamentally changed almost overnight. Offices and retail facilities that once buzzed with occupants during daytime and early evening hours are now quiet, while multifamily properties, groceries, and other essential businesses are suddenly running at full capacity 24/7. Many property owners do not have the extra time or the extra hands to manage the extra demands suddenly placed on their systems. You can help by providing a quick site inspection and a review of the system operations schedule to ensure that the added equipment utilization is not putting their systems at risk. Dependable backup generators and adding redundancy to their systems can be critical to ensuring maximum uptime to serve their customers

Cost savings upgrades that don’t disrupt occupants

As some buildings such as schools and malls sit idle, this can be an opportunity to help building owners who had been putting off major energy system refreshes or upgrades because they either didn’t have the time or they didn’t want to disrupt their occupants. As tough economic times descend across the country, these infrastructure investments are a source of cash savings that could make a big difference once buildings return to their standard operation. There are many financing programs that ensure that utility savings exceed the cost of the project, providing the owner with positive cash flow once the building is operating again.

In this crucial time it is important to remember that we are all in this together. We shouldn’t compromise on the essential needs of shelter.

We look forward to supporting our communities with upkeep and efficiency of their building infrastructure.

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