HVAC 101 - Maintenance and Asset Planning
No matter the size, every business strives to maximize the life and value of their assets. However, some of the seemingly most “out of mind” assets like HVAC can be the ones with the largest price tags. Regarding overall experience for customers, employees, tenants and other patrons, temperature in the space is arguably one of the most important. In order to keep these units functioning appropriately, preventative maintenance is a must. Just like when you bring your car in for routine maintenance or get a yearly doctors physical to ensure the health of your body, HVAC units benefit from the same attention. In the terms of HVAC, there are three different types of maintenance and they are broken down as follows:
1.Reactive This is the call at 4:59 on Friday afternoon, right before your much needed weekend. Reactive maintenance is exactly how it sounds: a surprise and always seemingly at the most inconvenient time. Reactive means there is no system in place to check how the asset is operating and no schedule to monitor its performance. This may be acceptable for non-essential and inexpensive equipment, but the cost rises significantly moving across the spectrum into more specialized assets. Not only should tangible costs such as the repairs and lost production time be considered, but the intangible costs such as safety, tenant discomfort, and stress. Although reactive maintenance does not have an up-front cost, this route can produce overall higher expenditures over the life of a unit due to the cost of unexpected, and sometimes after hours, repairs. Reactive maintenance is not a recommended plan regarding commercial HVAC.
2.Scheduled Scheduled maintenance pertains to when an asset is maintained on a regular schedule. The schedule can be monthly, quarterly, seasonal or annually depending on a variety of factors such as age, complexity or condition of the asset. With consistent hands and eyes on the equipment, problems can be caught early before they turn into larger expenditures. According to the US Department of Energy, scheduled maintenance can provide 12-18% cost savings year over year.1 Catastrophic failures become less prevalent, damages to other equipment resulting from the initial failure can be avoided, expected lifespan increases, and in some cases energy savings can be observed. Industry standards have moved to scheduled maintenance being viewed as the status quo and it is widely utilized across all markets.
3.Predictive Maintenance The final HVAC maintenance category, predictive maintenance, tends to be tailored to certain assets. Predictive maintenance involves measurement systems (intelligent services) which consistently monitor and analyze equipment to predict failures before they would normally be revealed by scheduled maintenance. Predicative maintenance focuses on the real-time condition of the equipment, providing more visibility than scheduled maintenance, and in some cases can derive alarms to occur when there is a potential issue within the unit. Although there is an initial investment to establish these intelligent services, predictive maintenance can result in significant savings by reducing unexpected downtime, planning necessary maintenance ahead of time, and helping to prevent catastrophic failures. Due to the differing leasing structures, the responsibility of HVAC maintenance may fall on many different parties. No matter the structure, all owners should be keenly aware of how their HVAC assets are being maintained whether by their own team or tenant. If a tenant does not maintain the units appropriately during the term of their lease, this can result in faster degradation/failure of the units and unexpected costs on the back end for the owners. In tandem, HVAC asset planning is a crucial aspect of budgetary planning. Understanding the lifespan and age of a building’s units can help owners anticipate replacements and repairs.
All together, HVAC systems are complex, which is why skilled technicians are critical to their upkeep. As with most assets, the appropriate attention given on a regular basis can directly correlate with a longer lifespan and less downtime on the units.
1. FEMP OM Best Practices v3.0 Aug2010 -highlights.pdf
This blog was written by Lauren Shorey and Austin Owens. Lauren and Austin both serve as Account Managers at Trane Technologies and work alongside building owners, engineers, and managers to understand and assess the operation of their facilities to develop opportunities and achieve business goals. Trane assists in improving building performance, HVAC asset management, and energy consumption for more efficient, sustainable, and cost effective results.
Lauren is a graduate of the Samford University Brock School of Business, and has four years of account management experience in the facilities sector.
Austin graduated from the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing Honors College before moving to Nashville TN where he underwent Trane’s 6 month graduate training program to develop his HVAC and energy knowledge.
CRE615 is a networking group and educational platform for Nashville's next generation of commercial real estate professionals. To learn more visit www.cre615.com