As the UK enters its phase of learning to live with Covid-19, building managers face the challenge of achieving good indoor air quality (IAQ) for occupant health.
Reassuring workers that they are in a safe and healthy environment will be key to enabling businesses and organisations to move forward productively.
At the same time, we are also dealing with rapidly rising energy costs, against the background of increasingly stringent regulations on energy use in our building stock.
Building managers and FMs must ensure that all building services (big energy users in most buildings) operate effectively and efficiently.
Good maintenance optimises performance, reduces costs, minimises downtime and extends equipment life
A healthy balance
Service and maintenance should be central to achieving the balance between a healthy workplace and an energy efficient building.
Good IAQ and efficiency are certainly not mutually exclusive, in fact by harmonising the approach to maintenance, it’s possible to achieve and maintain both important objectives.
When focusing on Service and Maintenance at Mitsubishi Electric, we believe that meeting these challenges requires integrated thinking in the design, supply, installation, commissioning and service and maintenance of essential building services.
Harness the latest technology
The latest technologies such as remote monitoring are also more widely used in all types of buildings.
Cloud-based control solutions (such as our own MELCloud) remotely monitor equipment, logging any errors and letting the maintenance support team know of any issues.
This enables by degree, possible predictive maintenance measures. A fan-motor may be under-performing or nearing the end of its lifecycle, and the planned replacement can be scheduled when operational impact isn’t critical.
Harnessing technology in this way creates reassurance that systems are operational and optimised for energy use.
The indoor environment is maintained for health and comfort, while building owners know that energy use is always at efficient levels. What’s more, remote monitoring reduces the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns and repair callouts.
The call for higher standards of IAQ in our workplaces is being seen more frequently, and we have produced several reports on this topic including a practical guide to buildings as safe havens, which details all of the questions to ask your ventilation experts.
Whatever the size of building you’re in, there are ways that you can harness the latest technology to improve the quality of the indoor environment.
Working harder for longer
One consequence of this focus on air quality is that building services equipment may be working harder to deliver continuous IAQ.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that modern HVAC equipment is built to last, but it does need regular servicing to do so.
Left to its own devices, particularly when operating for longer, the equipment may not develop faults – but performance will degrade over time.
This leads to struggling equipment that doesn’t perform at its best or most energy efficient. And it may reach its end-of-life sooner.
Prevention is better than cure
Fixing faults is possible, of course, but it’s a short-term approach that certainly doesn’t support good IAQ or energy efficiency.
Planned preventative maintenance (PPM) is a strategic solution that matches maintenance scheduling to a building’s exact requirements, provide reassurance that equipment is regularly checked – and operating efficiently.
Building services equipment is vital to create good internal environments across all sorts of workplaces.
Good maintenance strategies will optimise system performance, reduce energy costs, minimise downtime and extend the life of the equipment.
It makes sense to put service and maintenance at the heart of healthy and efficient buildings.
Brian Beetson is National Sales Manager - Managed Services