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Preparing for an HVAC Emergency

It is 4 a.m., and the phone rings. The building’s boiler has failed, and it is 20 degrees outside. Technicians will not be able to repair the failure in a few hours. It will be days or weeks until repairs are complete or a new boiler is in service, assuming one is available for installation and delivery. Now what?

It is essential to have emergency-preparedness plans that include HVAC equipment failure. While many organizations have general emergency-preparedness plans designed, they must not forget about HVAC equipment failure! With a plan, the above situation could have been much easier to resolve and would have limited system downtime to just a few hours, minimized disruptions to building occupants and operations, and eliminated almost the entirely the risk of damage to the building and its systems.

What insight does Bruner have on this topic for you? We asked our operations manager for some tips on this situation and he suggests “Hopefully, you have a preventative maintenance program in place and as a result, already have the funds set aside for this inevitability. Your service provider should have noted the boiler’s condition on their last several maintenance summaries and during a quarterly meeting should have relayed that it was a major cause for concern that needed immediate attention. Preferably, your service provider and trusted partner should have identified the specific concerns and had contingencies in place so that this didn’t happen to begin with. Ideally, identifying redundancy or areas where it is missing should be a part of every comprehensive maintenance program so that you don’t find yourself in this situation.”

Boiler failures aren’t the only HVAC emergencies that can occur – don’t forget to address central chillers, individual-area HVAC systems, and also to be aware of temporary changes in the way occupants use a building which can create conditions where the existing HVAC system no longer can meet the needs of the application. As always, Bruner can help your organization develop a comprehensive maintenance program to avoid and prepare for an HVAC emergency.

Is it Greener to Retrofit than Build New?

We all know that building new green buildings is always a hot idea, but experts have been pushing the idea that retrofitting existing buildings with green upgrades provide more environmental benefits. Your first thought may be new = better however, there is now proof that these experts are correct from a report released earlier this year. The report found that it is unequivocally greener to retrofit an old building than construct a new green building, no matter how many high-tech bells and whistles are in the new construction. The report was drawn from “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse” project which was commissioned by Preservation Green Lab.

Elizabeth Heider, chair of the board of directors at the USGBC said “The thought was in order to build green you have to build new.” However, the report numbers add up in favor of retrofits. The report states:

  • It can take between 10 and 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to overcome, through more efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts that come from construction.
  • Environmental savings from re-use are between 4 and 46 percent over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level
  • The negative environmental impact of retro green for human health was between 12 and 38 percent less than for new construction
  • When it comes to ROIs, retros showed a 19.2% increase in ROI versus 9.9% for new buildings

Case in point, retrofitting is the way to go! Bruner has a successful track record of helping our customers retrofit their mechanical systems for over 50 years. Let us assist you in developing a retrofit solution that works best for your building by contacting us today!