Preparing your facility for winter can often feel like preparing to go into battle against the elements. Temperatures and precipitation can be harsh and unforgiving for both your building and its occupants.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a facility manager to prepare for the upcoming colder weather as much as possible. When it comes to not just weathering but thriving through the winter, preparation is key. Here are some of the more common maintenance issues you may want to address sooner rather than later to ensure your facility is winter-ready when the frost hits.
Axe the A/C
Your building's A/C was one of the most important fixtures throughout the balmy summer months, and few things signify a shift from summer to cooler seasons like the act of switching it off. While it may hold a symbolic significance, it's also important to ensure proper procedure is followed so that your HVAC system isn't damaged or rendered less efficient in the process.
As Buildings pointed out, one of the most crucial steps in shutting down your facility's A/C is making sure it is drained of any excess water that may have accumulated. In the cold of winter, this can freeze, which can create significant building maintenance concerns.
Keep it comfortable
If you ask any facility manager what one of his or her most common tenant complaints is, you're bound to hear a chorus of answers about building temperature. In fact, as FMLink noted, the ASHRAE standard that governs temperature control in commercial buildings only requires that a facility's thermal solution appease 80 percent of its occupants. Aside from outlining the difficulty associated with finding the best temperature, ASHRAE Standard 55 also points out that there is more to temperature regulation than just the thermostat.
Buildings noted that thermodynamics play a huge part in regulating office temperature. Everything from radiant temperature to air speed can affect what happens to the mercury indoors. Not to mention the differences in individuals' metabolism levels, which can have a tremendous impact on their perception of the temperature.
Fortunately, solutions are surfacing to help ease that tension for FMs. One such method outlined by the source is known as displacement ventilation. This practice uses lower-velocity air at floor level. Hotter air given off by heat sources are then pushed up toward the ceiling, where ventilation shafts can carry it out of the room.
Such a solution may be expensive to implement from scratch, especially if it requires a complete overhaul of your HVAC system. But Buildings noted that the energy savings can be substantial. Because the air is being circulated out of the room via ceiling-level ventilation ducts as it warms up, the air passing through HVAC has a much lower threshold for both heating and cooling. As the source reported, displacement ventilation typically requires that air only be heated or cooled to around 65 degrees, which requires substantially less heavy lifting on the part of your HVAC system than most standard summer or winter temperatures.