Building operations tips for the holidays – top 5 list

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Daniel Zimmermann "Ocean Drive #1"

With the holiday season in full swing, now is a prime time for building drift to creep into your operations. These top 5 building operations tips for the holidays will help your engineering and maintenance teams get prepared.

In the past, we’ve written about News Years resolutions for your building, which include careful baseload monitoring, startup and shutdown optimization, and accurate dollar savings measurements. There is also our infamous Thanksgiving story of the sister buildings in Silicon Valley running polar opposite BMS schedules on Thanksgiving Day. And our cringe-worthy case study on how not to celebrate the 4th of July (by setting your peak demand charge for the July billing period on a day when one of your corporate headquarter buildings is unoccupied) is memorable proof that building drift is patiently waiting for any chance you give it to creep into your building. These top 5 building operations tips for the holidays should help.

  1. Take advantage of empty tenant spaces building operations with empty tenants Maintaining service levels with your tenants is a fundamental piece of operating the building (and we’ve explored the idea of service level agreements in commercial leases). Your tenant spaces should be less crowded, so now might be an excellent time for a thorough walkthrough. You already know what to look for, including manual damper positions, the status of window blinds, local thermostat settings, and the condition of garbage and recycling containers.
  2. Check/replace air filters
    The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have calculated the energy savings from clean air filters at between 5% and 15% for residential units, and clean filters also lower stress on compressor motors, AHUs, and fans. To the extent there are filters inside tenant spaces, the holiday lull makes it an easy time to check off the easy but constant filter maintenance item from your team’s to-do list.
  3. Review your Preventative Maintenance plan
    The holiday lull is also a convenient time to update your Preventative Maintenance plan. If you follow The Energy Management Handbook, setting up a PM plan takes 9 steps. Once you’re ready to automate this (per the handbook’s step 8), Tikkit can help.
    Building operations tips - PM
  4. Check for hand mode on major system components
    This is a simple tip, and an easy one to miss. Your team has a lot to think about as you wrap up the year, and holiday breaks can lead to lapses in careful operations. Costs from hand mode on air handler units (and other major equipment systems) can quickly add up:
    continuous commissioning example
  5. Review holiday schedule scripts in the BMS
    Just like hand mode settings on equipment, your BMS may need some attention before it’s ready for the holidays. The same is true for thermostat schedules if those are adjusted by tenants in-suite. BMS scripts can trip up on complete or partial shutdown, zone complexity, and day-of-week considerations (for example, the 26th falls on a Saturday this year).

If you have suggestions, please let us know in the comments below!


About Millen Paschich

Millen began his career at Cambridge Associates, trained in finance at SMU, and has an MBA from UCLA. Talk to him about bicycling, business, and green chile burritos.

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