The 2016 heat dome has been all over the news recently and we're definitely feeling the heat wave here in Ohio! In fact, as luck would have it, I've been without air conditioning at home for the past five days due to a bad compressor, seemingly trapping my home under my own personal heat dome.
With some areas of the United States experiencing temperatures ten to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit above average for this time of year, you may be getting more HVAC complaints from building occupants than usual. If your facility isn't staying as cool as it should be, or you just want to prevent occupant discomfort and wasted energy check out these three tips for maintaining comfortable and efficient facilities this summer.
Tip #1: Stay on top of preventive maintenance
- Clogged air filters in your air handling units can cause problems if they're not changed in a timely manner. If your air filters are clogged you may experience reduced air flow through the system which impacts occupant comfort and the fan will have to work harder which consumes more energy.
- Make sure the fins and coils in your air cooled chillers are clean and free of debris (e.g., pollen, etc.) which can reduce efficiency.
- Check the refrigerant levels in your chillers and packaged air handling units to make sure they're within the specifications provided by the manufacturer.
Utilizing facilities management software, like FMX, makes it easy to schedule, assign, and track preventive maintenance tasks and costs to ensure HVAC systems are running smoothly.
Tip #2: Conduct retro-commissioning
Typically, a facility is commissioned when it's initially built, which is the process of using the building control system to test all systems and components to make sure everything is operating properly.
Retro-commissioning is the process of testing building systems and components again at a later time to make sure that everything is still functioning properly.
- Retro-commissioning reveals building control programming issues, mechanical failures, and calibration problems that need be corrected. These issues are rectified as they're discovered during the process.
- For example, you might discover that air handling units are simultaneously heating and cooling, or dehumidifying when it's not needed, due to a control scheme problem in the building automation system.
- The cost of retro-commissioning can be justified through energy savings. Energy savings estimates could be provided by a consulting firm or by analyzing benchmark data for buildings like yours using online tools like the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
- Questions to be answered during this process include: How much energy should a good performing building that's similar to yours (size, type, and age of building) be using? How much energy is your building currently using in comparison? What is the potential for energy savings for your building based on this analysis?
Using a facilities management software system like FMX will allow you to manage work orders for problems identified during the retro-commissioning process, as well as store data about your assets (i.e., specifications, calibrations, system diagrams, manuals, etc.)
Tip #3: Open lines of communication with occupants
Imagine this scenario, it's summertime and one of your building occupants is too cold in their room. Without an easy way to notify or request help from the maintenance or facility team, the occupant decides to take matters into their own hands by plugging in an electric heater to warm up the room. Now, the air conditioning is still running and you're paying extra for the electric heat!
Implementing a facilities management software solution like FMX makes it possible for occupants to quickly submit heating/cooling work orders. Maintenance or facility teams are able to receive these submitted work orders on-the-go and easily respond to and resolve them while keeping the occupants in the loop.
Brian is the president and founder of Facilities Management eXpress. When he's not steering the FMX ship, he enjoys hiking, riding bikes, reading books, and spending time with family.