Views from our Experts
In this article Paul Jackson, an Associate Director with NDY sister company ECS, discusses how undertaking building services upgrades during COVID-19 associated low occupancy rates can deliver real cost benefits to building owners and managers.
Current low occupancy rates in commercial and retail buildings due to COVID-19 restrictions offer building owners and managers an unparalleled opportunity to upgrade building services faster and cheaper than ever before.
Services upgrades, such as chiller replacements, are typically required to be undertaken outside of business hours to minimise disruption to building users, often resulting in increased labour costs. Local government restrictions on noise and traffic outside of permitted hours also impact on upgrade costs, as the window in which works can be undertaken can be reduced to just a few hours each night. This reduced window means that works that could be undertaken in a matter of days if run concurrently incur an increased program and increased costs along with it.
Low occupancy rates resulting from government COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions offer building owners and managers the opportunity to undertake upgrade works during business hours without causing disruption to large numbers of occupants.
Our partners in the maintenance and upgrade sectors see cost savings in the range of up to 50% when compared to works undertaken outside of operating hours.
These projected cost savings do, however, come with a caveat, as some plant items do have long lead times for supply. A chiller for example, can take between 16 and 20 weeks to be manufactured and delivered, unless you can source a locally available item. So if you plan on taking advantage of cost savings, start work now.
One question owners and managers may have in proposing early upgrades is how do we justify the cost? Reduced overall upgrade costs is just one answer. Owners and managers should also consider rejigging R&M budgets and use energy savings to finance larger maintenance works early. Return on this early investment can be modelled and proven through reduction in energy costs, but also through the opportunity to right size plant – many plants are oversized and inefficient in low occupancy scenarios.
This article was first published on LinkedIn. Click here to read it as originally published.
About our Expert
Associate Director – ECS
Having entered the industry as a service engineer on HVAC plant, Paul has been involved in the field of diagnostics and commissioning on a wide variety of building services and plants. His skillset encompasses mechanical, electrical, air conditioning, associated control systems and BMS systems. He currently works side by side with Standards Australia on the revision of guidelines around commissioning.
Paul sits on the AIRAH Board of Directors and was previously WA State President and chair of the Big Data and Analytics Special Technical Group.