Why Facility Managers Should Invest in HVAC Engineers and Technicians

In an effort to lower operational expenses and create environmentally friendly systems, more and more facility managers are investing in smart building technology’s potential.  Such an investment strategy will likely pay off since HVAC systems account for approximately 40 percent of a facility’s primary energy consumption.

Potential Impact

Wasted energy can cost between $1,000 and $3,700 per HVAC unit if your facility’s inventory (commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and warm-air furnaces, etc.) includes units that are over 10 years old or use R22 refrigerant. So 20-30% efficiency gains are quite possible by retrofitting or replacing older, degraded equipment and investing in smart building technology.

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A Facility Manager’s Guide to Maintaining, Retrofitting and Replacing RTUs

As a facility manager, you’re likely aware the Department of Energy’s energy standards for rooftop units begin in 2018 and increase in 2023. But did you also know wasted energy can cost between $1,000 and $3,700 per unit if your facility’s RTU inventory (commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and warm-air furnaces ) includes units that are over 10 years old, use R22 refrigerant, or have had little to no preventive maintenance? In other words, those old and inefficient RTUs are costing you and that doesn’t even include costly repairs and downtime.

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School Maintenance Managers Struggle to Eliminate a Four-Letter Word this Summer … Mold!

School maintenance managers won’t be taking much time off this summer as many struggle to keep up with swelling maintenance backlogs. How bad is it? According to a 2016 State of Facilities report, there are growing deferred maintenance backlogs in all types of schools across the United States and there’s no end in sight.

School Maintenance Manager Case for PMAlthough dealing with increasing costs because of this deferred maintenance is certainly a significant challenge, the bigger issues for educational facilities are ensuring good indoor air quality and the health and comfort of students.

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How to Future Proof Your Facility Management Career

Someday your facility’s cooling tower may be queued up to follow an automatic preventive maintenance program and actually self-clean in an effort to boost efficiencies and decrease unplanned repair costs. Cool, right? Well, there’s a growing concern within many industries that “automation” is synonymous with “job loss.”

According to a recent McKinsey & Co. analysis of 2,000 different work activities across 800 occupations, automation will change virtually every job in every occupation. Specifically, McKinsey found that in about 60% of occupations, 30% of tasks could be handed over to robots and bots. Bad news for your career, right? … Think again.

The report concludes less than 5% of global occupations will be fully automated using current technology. The remaining 95% will simply change to account for advancements in technology, connectivity and automation.

Here’s a handful of facility manager skills that’ll be in high demand due, for the most part, by these advancements.

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Goodway’s Ray Field and CDC’s Nancy Messonnier, MD on How Your Facility can Best Prevent Legionella Outbreaks

It’s likely that most facility managers in New York City have already heard the news this week about a police officer infected with Legionnaire Disease (LD). A poorly maintained water supply system at his police station was the likely source for a widespread disease that’s seen a quadrupling of reported cases in the last 15 years.

Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks Trending Up

As the summer heat begins to put a strain on facility cooling towers, more facility-triggered outbreaks are likely to follow. According to Ray Field, Director of Goodway Liquid Solutions, the upward trend in outbreaks will likely continue over the next few years as sub-standard maintenance practices, the wrong maintenance tools and shrinking maintenance budgets continue to hamper progress.  In a related podcast entitled Legionella Outbreaks: Preventive Maintenance Practices and Chemical Solutions to Minimize Risk of Occurrence, Ray discusses the challenges facility managers face when battling the resilient bacteria.

“What it comes down to is good industrial hygienic practices,” Field says. “And if you look at cooling towers, in my estimation, they can be neglected in terms of care or maintenance up front when they’re started, in terms of washing them down, getting rid of scale accumulation in the tower fill that causes the air/water intimate contact that causes the cooling with the fan. Both chemical and mechanical solutions are really the best way to approach it, followed by a well-maintained water treatment program.” This is consistent with statements in the recent American National Standards Institute approved ASHRAE Standard 188 – 2015 entitled “Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.”

Just recently, the CDC arrived at a similar conclusion after analyzing 2,809 confirmed LD cases reported from 20 states and NYC. The report summarized that the number one way for facility managers to mitigate LD risk is to better manage and maintain the building’s water supply system. The study also revealed that roughly 80% of LD outbreaks in facilities were preventable and healthcare facilities in particular were more susceptible due, in part, to their more vulnerable populations and more complex water supply systems.

Here are three additional takeaways from the study:

• Legionella grows well in building water systems that are not adequately managed such as those in which disinfectant levels are low or water temperatures are warm.
• The size and complexity of the facility’s water system may increase the risk for Legionella growth.
• Effective water management and maintenance programs are highly recommended to prevent Legionella growth in buildings with large or complex water systems.

Facility Water System Components Susceptible to Legionella Growth

Legionella can grow in parts of building water systems that are continually wet, and certain devices can spread contaminated water droplets via aerosolization. Examples of these system equipment, components and devices include:

  • Cooling towers
  • Hot and cold water storage tanks
  • Water heaters
  • Water-hammer arrestors
  • Pipes, valves, and fittings
  • Expansion tanks
  • Water filters
  • Electronic and manual faucets
  • Aerators
  • Faucet flow restrictors
  • Shower heads and hoses
  • Centrally-installed misters, atomizers, air washers, and humidifiers
  • Non-steam aerosol-generating humidifiers
  • Eyewash stations
  • Ice machines
  • Hot tubs/saunas
  • Decorative fountains

How to Implement a Water Supply Management and Maintenance Program

To help facility managers and building owners prevent future outbreaks, the CDC also prepared a comprehensive thirty-six page water supply management guide to implementing industry standards. Facility managers who have previously implemented a risk management system will be familiar with its structure and the recommended stages:

  • Describe your building, its use and occupants, the plumbing and water handling equipment, with special attention to dead-legs or low flow areas, and outlets that form droplets
  • Analyze your water system to identify points where Legionella might grow due to suitable temperatures, or post-heating destruction of disinfectant, increased contaminants or other factors.

Here’s a helpful building water supply system flow diagram provided in the guide:

Working Smarter and OutSmarting Bacteria

Cooling tower and other equipment susceptible to bacteria growth (hot tubs, showers, fountains, air conditioning) may require a complete shut-down that takes time, inconveniences patrons and costs money.  However, “clean-in-place” (CIP) maintenance solutions may drastically decrease the time, labor and burden of maintaining a water supply management program. For example, with the Goodway Cooling Tower Vacuum there’s no need to drain the tower – you can clean it while the tower is still online. Cooling demand is not interrupted, nor is the comfort of occupants. CIP solutions are typically more efficient and effective when compared to non-CIP solutions. For example, Goodway’s TFC-200 Cooling Tower Fill Cleaner used with a ScaleBreak Gel Descaler begins dissolving scale and grime from cooling tower fill on contact. This low viscosity acidic product is formulated specifically to adhere to and descale mineral deposits from cooling tower fill.

Final Thoughts: Clean Upfront

Whether a facility manager is in charge of an enormous water supply system or a modest system, cleaning up front takes priority over establishing a water supply program. In other words, basic preventive maintenance (PM) as equipment comes online for the first time or back online for the season must be your first step. That means using vacuums, pressure washers and the proper chemicals to safely and effectively remove scale.

Remember, your upfront PM should consider chemical and mechanical solutions that minimize labor costs and maximize effectiveness. Only then do you follow up with a well-maintained, measurable water management and treatment program. 

Next Steps:

 

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