Summer can signal the start of a severe climate change for facilities managers. When summer rolls around Stacy Colvin, a member of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), prepares his buildings for what he calls, "extreme weather season."
How can facilities managers make sure their buildings don't succumb to summer's strenuous weather spell? A lot of foresight and solid maintenance practices help the cause, says Kelvin King, director of market development for Centennial Contractors.
"The number one thing to remember is pre-planning," King says. "Once you have an idea what the improvement plans and maintenance schedules are, make sure there are public contractors available to meet whatever your scheduled planned demand might be."
Much of that demand starts with the exterior of a building. Colvin, along with Kevin Nordmeyer, director of the Iowa Energy Center, suggests that facilities managers start their maintenance routine on the outside of a building and work their way in. Some key areas of interest include:
Be sure to transition roof inspections into an overall inspection of your building's HVAC system, Colvin recommends. "Make sure your system checks out with clean coils - check your Freon and make sure the fans are free of trash and oiled where needed," he says.
King says that in addition to making sure the coolers are functioning and filters are free of debris, managers need to make sure their units are moving the proper amount of air through the building.
"If your unit isn't moving the proper amount of air through the ducts, it may increase an environment for mold," he says.
Nordmeyer says that maintaining a properly working HVAC system is crucial, even during the summer months. In addition to making sure the filters and dampers are in top shape, managers of existing buildings should consider checking their systems to see if it may be time to replace it.
"If an AC is 10 years old or more, it's safe to assume there will be some sort of payback for a higher efficiency model," he says.
Consider the overall green health of your facility by looking at reducing energy costs. Replace heavy glass windows with more energy efficient ones. "Ask yourself: How can I utilize windows to allow daylight to come in so I can't turn on the lights?" Nordmeyer says. The same goes for replacing existing light bulbs with more energy efficient ones.
Facilities managers can also look at ways at conserving water on their properties as droughts and heat waves may strike. Colvin suggests setting sprinkler systems to only water the lawn at night, when necessary. Additionally, he recommends facilities managers implement a mosquito control process in low areas, especially after rainstorms.
Such precautions help protect a building and its surrounding property against tumultuous summer weather patterns.