Keeping on top of a facility's building maintenance is never easy, but for some the issue can be compounded even more than normal. Aside from emerging energy efficiency standards and similar compliance requirements, additional complications can arise in buildings that are much older.
Just like us, buildings age over time, and just like us, they require more attention as they do so. Aging infrastructure is fast becoming a concern for FMs across the country. It's important to understand the risks associated with maintaining an aging building, and more importantly, what steps can be taken to keep these older facilities operational.
Critical infrastructure is getting older
On July 29, a water main in Los Angeles broke, sending 20 million gallons of water running through the streets of Hollywood. According to AmericanCityAndCounty.com, the cause was as innocuous as it was preventable - the infrastructure was simply too old. Investigation revealed that the pipe in question was severely corroded and held together with outdated welding techniques - disaster was more or less inevitable.
Unfortunately, many FMs have time and limited resources teaming up to work against them. As Buildings noted, the already weathered condition of much of our critical infrastructure is often exacerbated by deferred maintenance and limited capital improvements budgets. This means it's even more important that facility managers make themselves aware of the state of their building's essential systems,and move to correct any known issues before they become problems.
Bringing old buildings into the new millennium
Industry professionals have identified how serious of a problem this has the potential to be, and many have started formulating and sharing actionable plans to course-correct aging infrastructure before they break down completely and turn into a much larger maintenance issue.
One method of approaching this put forward by AmericanCityAndCounty.com is to take a three-tiered approach to assessment, maintenance and replacement. Thorough evaluation of your facility's current infrastructure is the first step, so that you can identify high-risk areas and prioritize what needs the most attention for capital planning purposes. The source recommended a facility condition assessment, which offers a structured approach to assessing infrastructure and material assets alike.
A strategy suggested by Buildings is to marry your facility's existing and aging infrastructure with modern technology to better track and manage its conditions. Building automation solutions such as a CMMS can often be integrated into older facilities, offering FMs access to data and analytics to better monitor the performance of aging equipment.