Facility Dude

Keep your cool during a heat wave with these tips

By Kate Donnelly
Jul 20, 2015

Facilities Management

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Keep your cool during a heat wave with these tips Once the snow melts and the novelty of the warm weather passes, you're left facing one reality: The summer can get hot. Really hot. Depending on which part of the country you live in, you may even experience a heat wave with the mercury climbing to unbelievable levels.

Extremely hot weather can be an annoyance, but in some instances it can also be dangerous. As a facility manager, part of your role is ensuring the safety and comfort of your tenants, which can be difficult in the middle of a heat wave. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you keep your cool.

Listen to your tenants

The larger the building that you manage, the harder it's going to be to please everyone in terms of finding the perfect internal temperature. However, you don't need to worry about much more than just ensuring that there aren't any parts of the building that aren't being sufficiently cooled. You're likely used to people approaching you with complaints about the temperature, but be sure to take such concerns seriously in the summer when rising temperatures can be dangerous.

Communicate

Whatever you decide to do to keep your facility cool, be sure to share this with your tenants. This is of course especially important if there are special instructions for people to follow, such as keeping windows closed, turning off lights when they leave rooms or keeping thermostats at a predetermined level. If you have a building automation system, you can even use this to set your lights to timers, which can both reduce energy consumption and excess heat.

Watch your energy consumption

In many cases, you'll have to simply run your air conditioner to cool down your facility. This can be an expensive proposition in terms of energy consumption if you aren't careful, but fortunately, you can take steps to reduce energy consumption in other aspects of your building operation to offset this cost. In fact, many power-saving strategies are deceptively simple. Make sure lights are off when not in use, for example. There are additional measures you can take, such as having employees set their printers, computers and photocopiers to power save mode, or switching these machines off entirely when not in use.

Take special care of your outdoor employees

If you manage a worksite, hot weather management takes on a whole new significance. Even your own in-house maintenance staff should be carefully considered when planning your heat wave strategy. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide a safe working environment for staff members, and that includes adequate protection from extreme heat. Outdoor employees should have access to an air conditioned area and plenty of water. Ensure that foremen are encouraging their workers to take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion. Managers can also be trained to identify some of the early warning signs of heat stroke so they can pull an employee out of harm's way if needed. If temperatures are too extreme, it may be prudent to put off outdoor work altogether.

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