Updated: Dec 14, 2020
With Thousands of Buildings Remaining empty, our Towns and Cities look like Ghosts with only a handful being open or operational.
For existing Buildings managed by Facilities Managing Contractors and Managing Agents no one is fully sure what processes Owners, Landlords and Tenants are taking about the basic needs to keep their unoccupied Buildings safe and compliant. - Some are mothballing their sites, others are reducing the maintenance to basic levels. Either way its having a huge impact on Service providers.
Much has been written about the need to keep Buildings going at the most basic level, but we know that Staff Safety and running costs are a major factor.
As has been said, reduced building occupancy or indeed the closure of some buildings due to the Government’s measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t mean maintenance activities can be put on hold; In fact quite the opposite, as some of these activities, particularly for critical assets, become even more important.
I.e. If a Business is providing hard FM services in schools , they will be contractually obliged to meet specific standards and be able to demonstrate how they are meeting those standards. Equally specialist A/C and Refrigeration Contractors will need to ensure that sites remain compliant no matter what See article here
Gaining Building Access is still a Challenge for Many Contractors
Businesses have all been told by BESA, Consultants and Contractors about the need to follow both SFG-20 and 30 guidelines about keeping Buildings safe and keep Insurance Co's happy but in reality, having seen articles and posts on LinkedIn, FB and Twitter many are struggling to gain any form of access.
Not all Businesses follow the BESA/SFG systems and processes, but there are still many other things that can be done to ensure that Buildings systems are safe but also the building occupants and Visitors including Contractors.
Obviously no matter what Building types, enabling the provision of essential services that are so crucial in the COVID-19 response (such as hospitals, care homes, schools, banks, etc.) need to be clean, secure and well maintained to ensure they are safe for the people using them, especially as we start to come out of Lockdown.
Maintenance and Essential Repairs
Meanwhile, temporarily unoccupied buildings - such as closed down offices, hotels, etc. and multi-tenanted residential buildings still need essential maintenance, repairs and security to minimise any risk to user safety now and in the future, and to ensure business continuity.
Maintenance of water systems is also important, given the current climate of reduced building occupancy. A reduction in water usage can lead to problems in both the storage and distribution systems. It has the potential to cause problems with bacterial growth, as systems can quickly become colonised with bacteria such as legionella.
Water Storage tanks, designed for building occupancy have the potential to stagnate and for the distribution system, every outlet essentially becomes little or infrequently used. FM Contractor Polyteck and their Water division Pristine have produced a useful guide on Water Testing and re-commissioning after buildings have been left empty.
You can view their document on their website here
Water systems should therefore be risk assessed. There are some basic steps and measures that could be implemented, such as ensuring water temperatures remain compliant and reducing water storage capacity, each must be carefully considered and implemented based on current risk.
IoT Technology exists that allows these legacy systems to be constantly checked - Remotely
As tighter measures are rightly implemented, these professionals (and their contractors) need to be able to continue to work, travel and access their buildings so that they may continue to provide the essential services and work that will keep people safe and enabled in their workplaces
However well established IOT technology using low cost, long-life, battery powered sensors which are easily installed for M&E systems exist that enables many of these systems to be remotely monitored and produce reports that allows compliance monitoring to be completed,
Ideal for Small to Medium Sized Buildings - without a BMS
In most cases very little needs to be done to install these systems and therefore remotely report on Water & Air Temperatures, Indoor Air Quality, Gas Leaks, Water Leaks. -
Small long-life battery powered sensors take a few minutes to connect to a Cellular gateway, and therefore don't need to be physically connected to a Buildings network. No Wiring, Virtually Zero Installation, zero disruption to building managers and operators, and with full money back guarantees.
For Smaller Building without a complex control system then small battery powered sensors can be mounted quickly and easily to any key item of equipment with zero wiring.
For many larger Buildings with BMS systems then remote monitoring of any make through a simple Interface allows critical items of equipment to be monitored and additional IOT sensors can then interface directly again with no wiring needed.
So why is there reticence in installing these systems which clearly reduces risks to building owners, occupiers and contractors across the board?
It all depends on who the beneficiary of these Remote Monitoring system will be:
The office tenant or occupier will expect this to be provided as he is paying for a Maintenance contract in the service charge.
The Landlord or Managing agent however may take a different view. They may want to install these monitoring systems to ensure that existing occupiers are kept safe with the knowledge that monitoring is being carried out on critical systems especially when concerned with life safety. - They may want to entice future tenants about their ability to offer ongoing remote monitoring to provide an improved building maintenance/emergency response system. They might also be influenced by Insurance companies who may want to see a reduced risk of failures/leaks etc.
Facilities/M&E Contractors will also be wanting to offer this as a Value Added enhanced service offering to these aforementioned Landlords or Managing Agents and direct to multiple end-user occupiers to differentiate themselves from their competitors and possibly offer a lower cost condition based service. This may make it attractive to potential occupiers
The M&E Consultants will be happy to specify any form of monitoring on a New Build or Refurbishment, whether via IOT or Monitoring of the M&E control system, but will want to recommend tried and trusted systems only.
A Managed Service with Monitoring & Instant Alarms
There is little point in installing any form of monitoring unless you can act upon exception alarms - such as water leaks and retrieve ongoing reports from the Monitoring whether via IOT or BMS system.
London's well known Royal Exchange have been benefiting from IoT monitoring of key items of plant that their old BMS system isn't connected to. This decision was jointly made to install our IOT system between the landlord, managing agent and M&E contractor after they experienced exceptional water tank temperatures and regular water leaks from water distribution circuits.
Further sensors were then added to monitor Air Filter condition, water pump vibration and a change to condition based maintenance meant substantial saving could be made by reducing the daily walk around checks, reducing filter change frequency and pump usage.
If you are interested in removing the risk of either non-compliance or Insurance company penalty with one of our Remote Monitoring options, then you might be interested in our no-obligation 3-month trial. If you like and want to keep the system then you can choose from one of our simple "Mobile Phone" type contract over a 12, 24 or 36 month term
Why not request your free trial? Send us an email email@example.com