Commercial buildings of all shapes and sizes house our local businesses, and therefore their value to and impact on operations is considerable. When it comes to proper building maintenance, establishing a plan and then following through with it at the designated intervals is key.
As building occupants, it’s first important to know exactly what you are responsible for and what will be handled by other parties. That being said, it’s always nice to know that it is being actively managed by someone who is knowledgeable so that your assets are protected and business will be able to continue as usual. Pat Killeen, owner of Engineered Controls (www.engineeredcontrols.com/eci) , emphasizes the importance of teamwork between the business owner, building owner/property manager, and key industry professionals in establishing a reliable building maintenance plan:
“The comfort and safety provided by proper maintenance of your building’s mechanical and electrical sub-systems enables building owners and managers to focus on their core business or mission. Today, building systems that are properly maintained will run at top efficiency and for the longest possible amount of time, minimizing operating costs and unnecessary capital expenditures. Properly controlled and maintained building systems equal maximum employee satisfaction, maximum productivity and cost savings.
Engineered Controls offers custom maintenance plans that can be tailored to fit the needs of each customer. A well maintained system can be cost neutral when considering both the energy savings and extended life of the equipment. In addition, a good maintenance program will help to ensure buildings will experience smooth, uninterrupted operation for as long as possible.
What constitutes the ‘right’ level of service for security equipment and automation systems differs from facility to facility. Whether you simply need to identify a reliable resource for fast and accurate repairs, or you want to continually optimize the performance of your building, Engineered Controls provides a tiered approach to service that meets your equipment needs, failure tolerance and budget.
From Engineered Controls perspective there are five main benefits for the building owner to work with a maintenance provider.
• Reduced hassles from equipment breakdowns
• Management of business expenses
• Optimization of energy usage
• Increase employee and tenant comfort and health
• Increased peace of mind
At Engineered Controls, our goal is to help the building owner or manager succeed by offering custom-tailored maintenance agreements to fit their staff’s skill sets and business needs.
We’re now offering Adviser, a complete suite of building management services and cloud-based resources from Engineered Controls. Adviser is designed to monitor energy and operational efficiency, and put your facility on a path to optimization. Our Adviser customers have the support of our network of energy and automation experts, backed by sophisticated analytics technology, all working to deliver the right level of service and the information you need to maximize your efficiency and achieve your business goals.
Adviser advisory service from Engineered Controls offers three levels of service – Awareness, Improvement and Optimization. With three different options our customers can choose which level of Engineered Controls Adviser services they want to use.
The Awareness program is a web-based monitoring and troubleshooting system that keeps a 24-hour watch over a building management system. The Improvement program provides all the services included in the awareness program, plus consultations from our energy experts. And finally, the Optimization program provides all the services of awareness and improvement, plus our customers will receive a prioritized list of energy recommendations that will help them to focus on system changes that provide them the most benefit.”
Lighting, window shades, and HVAC are great examples of systems that when properly controlled can provide significant energy savings while also reducing or even eliminating maintenance costs in some cases. In fact, lighting and HVAC alone can make up for over 70% of an office buildings’ energy usage. So how do you make that 70% shrink? Lighting control can extend lamp life and can also provide lighting only to spaces that are occupied. You can also add the benefit of energy savings and maintenance just by upgrading or retrofitting light fixtures to LED. A typical LED fixture can extend lamp life to 30% longer, as compared to a typical T8 Fluorescent office building fixture. That means an average LED can last 22 years when calculating an 8 hour work day, 5 days a week versus only 13 years with the same figures. It could essentially be considered maintenance-free, depending on life cycle of the office space itself. Adding dimming extends lamp life even longer and reduces energy consumption even more! Window shades can automatically adjust shades to raise and lower based on direction of the sun, which in turn makes your HVAC not work as hard. HVAC control can also work in zones and occupancy so your HVAC isn’t fully heating or cooling a space that’s not being occupied.
With a heightened focus on energy efficiency, an area that continues to expand as technology advances, there’s also a new resource in Lincoln for anything you can think of that deals with batteries or bulbs. “Our new Batteries Plus Bulbs store at 70th & Van Dorn, the first in Lincoln, offers our clients a wide variety of products and services that are required for proper building maintenance,” says Steve Glenn, owner of the Batteries Plus Bulbs Lincoln franchise (www.batteriesplus.com). “Right now we are seeing a massive change in the lighting industry, with commercial property and industrial facility owners and managers moving towards LED and halogen lighting. Along with increased energy efficiency, it’s also dramatically more cost effective. As an added bonus, you don’t have to worry about changing light bulbs every time you turn around.
Also, the increasing demand for ‘specialty’ and replacement batteries are high. When it comes to both light bulbs and batteries, it’s important to be aware that disposal methods have changed. Environmental laws today do not allow you to simply throw those away in the trash, and that applies to tech items such as computers and smartphones. We’ll not only help you find the right battery and light bulb products for your needs, but we can also help you safely dispose of these items so that you’re not violating any laws in doing so.
It might seem straightforward, but you’d be surprised how many unique batteries and bulbs are available today. In addition to our store inventory, we have a massive selection of nearly 60,000 batteries, light bulbs and related products in our online catalog. With our extensive lineup of products and specific knowledge of each, as well as our emphasis on customer service, we’ll make sure that you find exactly what you need.”
Today the majority of building technology can be monitored and notifications can be sent out to maintenance when a component needs to be replaced or an error occurs. This further reduces burden on maintenance, by alerting key people to a problem before failure so they can make a decision to replace before down time potentially occurs. However, preventative maintenance still needs to be taken into consideration, especially for vital systems.
“More building systems utilize web-based programs and keeping up with this ever-changing industry is necessary for maintaining commercial properties,” advises Scott Bahm, Vice President-Facility Maintenance at NAI FMA Realty (www.naifmarealty.com). “A couple key examples are the utilization of improved applications for scanning electrical systems and the use of newer technologies to camera the plumbing systems. It’s important to carefully research and select the right equipment and/or secure a service provider to perform those tasks. As a commercial real estate property owner, it would be advantageous to budget every 3-5 years to scan the electrical systems. And camera the older plumbing systems that have shown drainage issues as a preventative measure to maximize equipment value and prolong the life of the building’s systems.”
When allocating funds to the installation and upkeep of a building control system, as with any other upgrades to your building, it’s important that a return on investment can be quantified and justified. You’ll want to work with firm that is able to design and engineer as such. You’ll also want to work with a firm that can help you find ways to save money through rebates, tax incentives, and lower energy costs. Energy management and efficiency will be key to operations, and your maintenance program will keep everything going as planned.
“From the viewpoint of being a previous Plant Operations Manager of a building that was in excess of 1,000,000 square feet, I fully understand the value of a responsible maintenance program and state-of-the-art energy management system,” says Jack Zohner, owner of John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning (www.jhlincoln.com). “I found that the most sensible way to save money was to have a scheduled maintenance program to keep heating and air conditioning systems running longer while improving efficiency and reducing the risks of break downs. Historically this approach provides a guaranteed payback.
All commercial buildings can benefit immensely from good energy management systems that control lighting and equipment to meet all operation needs. It’s possible to save 25% or more in energy usage, while improving comfort and indoor air quality. The payback is obviously very quick. Energy management systems have become very user friendly and the investment cost is fairly low.
Even in smaller buildings there are many things to do to reduce energy consumption. One of the most basic systems is in lighting control so let’s start there. Automatic light and exhaust fan switches are inexpensive and easy to install. They can provide operation only when needed and then shut off as programmed. A great reason to limit exhaust fan operation is that any air exhausted must be replaced and tempered. Typically that is accomplished by air infiltration that is full of pollen and other contaminants. In the summer, air infiltration requires cooling the air and removing humidity. In the winter, air infiltration requires heating the air and adding humidity. Less air infiltration reduces dust and pollens in the building. These inexpensive switches are also good for lighting that gets left on such as in closets, basements, hallways, etc.
Energy savings thermostats are another inexpensive way to save energy. Many can be controlled by iPhones or other computer devices. Some will provide low or high temperature alarms that can help prevent damages, such as frozen pipes in the winter. It’s important to match the thermostat with the equipment so it’s properly controlled. It’s a job John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning can do for you fairly inexpensively. John Henrys can provide controls for multiple systems that allow you to adjust them so they are working together rather than ‘fighting’ each other.
John Henrys also provides quality scheduled maintenance plans to match your building equipment and operation. They will call to schedule this maintenance around your business needs. It’s one less thing for businesses to worry about. If you decide not to have a regularly scheduled maintenance program, they also are available 365 days a year to take care of your emergency repairs.
If you want guaranteed financial payback in a comfortable building, the answer is in quality maintenance and energy savings!”
Indeed, no two buildings are the same when it comes to required maintenance. This is especially true with the popularity of renovating and repurposing older, often historical buildings. A classic example is the development of downtown areas to offer multipurpose housing and commercial space.
“Recently we’ve seen a lot of companies contracting projects that involve refinishing older buildings,” says Darin Cielocha of McGill Restoration (www.mcgillrestoration.com). “Since this has been popular in recent years, building owners and managers are constantly looking to maintain the integrity of their building and improve whatever necessary to protect the initial investment that was made.
If it’s not already, allocating a portion of your budget to the improvement of your facility should be a part of your long term business planning. While some maintenance items are small or recurring at defined intervals throughout the year, others are sizeable projects that may need to be addressed due to the forces at work—wear and tear from environmental stressors or regular traffic and so on. While you can’t necessarily plan in exact terms when things like this will happen, you can estimate to a degree of certainty the intervals at which time particular items will be a concern from the information about the building materials, construction techniques, architecture, structural integrity, age, past issues, etc. With so many variables at work, planning ahead to have your building periodically evaluated so that issues are addressed proactively is paramount.
Time frames vary with respect to maintenance-related projects, which also speaks to the importance of planning. For example, if you’re looking to have a maintenance project done in 2016 that incorporates construction, it’s very difficult to set something in motion if you didn’t start planning until the 3rd quarter last year. If a project will take six months, there’s generally an equal six months of planning beforehand. In fact, sometimes a job will require more time with planning than with the project itself. In my experience it’s beneficial to begin planning in the 1st quarter so you can implement in the 3rd quarter. Anything that affects the structure itself is generally a major undertaking and mobilizing efforts will take time. While it’s different with restoration and maintenance versus a complete build, you’ll always want to keep this in mind.”
He continues, “On the maintenance side of things, we are constantly working ahead so my advice is always to plan, plan, plan! Aside from the great importance of planning, currently with the labor crisis, finding good workers has been difficult but they are out there and you want to make sure you are working with them. Working with industry experts who have extensive experience in the field means that they’ve seen a multitude of difference scenarios, so they are adept at tailoring a project’s specifications to fit all of the critical factors involved—especially those that are less obvious or might be easily overlooked. We always say we are, and work with, solution providers and problem solvers. They are able to make good decisions because they’ve worked with a wide variety of materials and methods in construction.
This especially true with old buildings, because we’ve come a long way and the designs just weren’t meant for the traffic loads and weight needs. We are trying to cram more and more people into offices and patrons in the doors. Luckily we have smart ways to restructure things these days! For example, if you make your space bigger you’ll need new HVAC equipment to properly heat and cool the space, and you might even need to structure the load capacity so you can put the new, and most likely heavier and larger, equipment on the roof.
Maintenance programs will also switch hands, so you’ll want to be kept up to speed about the last time that key services were performed. It’s quite common for people to spend more money on updating the interior of a building than the exterior, when in some cases the dollars would go much farther by doing the opposite. As a prime example, as new tenants coming into a space will paint and install new flooring without hesitation. The face of the building, signage, parking lot…all are important factors to take into consideration too. While you are reviewing your budget and where to spend, keep in mind that you may need to allocate funds to the outside of the building as well, which will draw attention with curb appeal but at the same time also has underlying benefits to offer.
Essentially if you’re going to invest in maintenance, work with professionals who can offer a whole building perspective. A comprehensive maintenance program will have items that need to be done weekly, monthly, yearly, and in certain year increments so having this in place will allow you to avoid being stuck in a reactive cycle that can cause problems from unanticipated costs and down time.
Maintaining the integrity of a building and investing in the improvement of your facility should always be a part of your budget and your yearly planning.”
The exterior elements are just as important as the building itself in terms of regular maintenance because your curb appeal, along with your attention to the safety of your guests and the upkeep of your property, will factor into the public’s overall perception of your business.
“Well maintained signage provides the best first impression to potential customers while also being key to the overall safety of the building,” agrees Jim Graham, President of Nebraska Sign (www.nebraskasign.com). “Properly maintained signage is also critical to the financial success of any business. Regular, scheduled maintenance extends the life of your signage and prevents unwanted outages in order to keep your signs lit and business operational.
On the building maintenance side, it is our job to preserve the constant, bright illumination of the signage. We also work diligently to ensure the safety of the electrical wiring and the attachment points to the building or structure.”
He adds, “With any service or maintenance there is also an excellent opportunity to update the appearance of worn or outdated signage. Furthermore, a great new offering for your signage would be replacing neon and fluorescent bulbs with brighter and more energy efficient LED illumination. As already touched on, LED illumination provides a longer service life and is also less susceptible to the harsh Nebraska weather.”
As previously mentioned, interior design aspects such as repainting walls, replacing flooring or incorporating new furniture also must be done at the recommended intervals, depending on factors such as age, traffic, damage, or sometimes it might simply just be time for a new look. The proper care over the life of these items is critical to getting the most out of your investment.
“One of the most expensive and most often replaced things in a business is flooring,” explains Jon Paolini of ServiceMaster Professional Building Maintenance (www.servicemasterclean.com). “Whether carpet or hard floor, if the flooring is maintained it will not only last longer but look better during its useful life.
If you wait until your carpet ‘looks’ dirty to clean it then it won’t last as long or come back as well when it is cleaned. There are hidden soils, oils and grit that wear the carpet fibers out and those are present long before the tops of the fibers appear dirty. The same is true of many hard floor types. A nice coat of finish not only makes the floor look nice and shine it also protects that flooring from stains and wear.
When you get new flooring or furniture it is important to read and understand care requirements in order to make it look good over its life in your office. It is really important to share that information with your cleaning service as well to make sure the right products are used when those items are cleaned. With flooring products it is critical to follow care guidelines and frequencies of cleaning required in order for warranties to not be voided in case of a problem.”
He adds, “Also, keep in mind that while green cleaning options aren’t really new anymore they also aren’t standard. If you want green options from your cleaning company you will need to specify that. There are some green options which really improve indoor air quality as well as reducing the environmental impact of cleaning.”
“Going green is definitely a huge trend,” agrees Talisha Galaviz, Property Manager with Greenleaf Properties (greenleafproperties.com). “As touched on earlier, one of the most popular examples right now is switching from metal halide lights to LED light bulbs. Currently Lincoln Electric System is offering a rebate to those who do replace metal halide lights and change them to LEDs.”
As a universal rule that applies to building maintenance, whether a space is occupied or not there should still be a maintenance plan set up that’s adjusted for specific periodic checkpoints. She further advises, “The key thing to be aware of with respect to building maintenance is attention to detail in your buildings. As a habit, whenever I am in a building for any reason I am constantly looking around for anything that may become or cause an issue. It’s equally important to pay attention to any vacant spaces you have all throughout the year. Make sure that the thermostats are set to appropriate temperature settings for the seasons, and make sure that the space is kept clean so that any prospects who walk through see a clean space. Just be mindful of vacant space because sometimes it can be easily overlooked while trying to maintain the spaces with tenants actually in them.”
As building maintenance is multifaceted, it’s important to employ a strategic approach to both the upkeep and upgrades. Currently one of the major concerns with upgrading is creating greater efficiency. In some instances you can benefit from greater efficiency as well as a new and improved look for your commercial space at the same time. For example, there are numerous benefits to upgrading your existing inefficient windows with 3M Solar Control or Fasara Decorative Window Films from The Tint Shop. Some of the greatest features and benefits are:
Glare and Heat Reduction. This increases the comfort of the building for all employees while reducing energy consumption and costs. 3M Solar Control Films can cut the glare coming through the glass by over 85%–sometimes around 95%–with the right kind of glass and film combination. A great amount of glare entering a window causes people to squint as a natural reaction to decrease the amount of light entering their eyes. This can often cause some pretty severe headaches and discomfort, and everyone knows how much bright light hurts when you have a headache. According to Keith May, owner of The Tint Shop (www.tintshoplincoln.com), heat reduction is probably one of the biggest reasons that people add window films. 3M Solar Control Films can be virtually clear, safe for all glass, and can reduce the heat coming through the glass by almost 70% while not changing the exterior or interior appearance of the glass at all.
UV Protection. All 3M films block 99% of UV light entering through the glass, which will keep flooring, woodwork, decorations, drapes, blinds and other interior furnishings from fading. Also, blocking UV rays can make an employee working in front of a window much more comfortable, and therefore more happy and productive.
Improved Aesthetics. Have you ever driven by a large commercial building and seen blinds halfway down in some windows, paper taped to the windows in some places, or even framework or insulation showing through a window from renovation? May states, “Adding 3M Window Film from The Tint Shop to the windows in a building like this will make the entire building look more professional, neater, cleaner, more balanced, and adds consistency. Not to mention, the employees will no longer need to tape paper in the windows or lower their blinds to achieve a comfortable work space.”
Decorative Enhancement. Decorative or “Frost” Films are being utilized more and more in modern interior design for the glass in buildings and offices. May advises that this eliminates the “cubicle” effect where employees feel caged and cut off, while adding an open feel to the office or building. Clear glass doesn’t provide for privacy when it’s needed, and that’s where The Tint Shop and 3M’s Fasara line of Decorative Films comes in. Doing something as simple as adding a 36” wide band of frost film across the middle of a section of glass can give you the privacy you need without paying four times as much for etched or sandblasted glass. There are many styles, finishes and textures available in the 3M Fasara line for every taste and situation.
Safety (and Security) First. Protecting your building from theft, vandalism, and other events that would negatively impact your business is critical. The Tint Shop also offers a full line 3M Safety & Security Films, the strongest on the market. By holding the panes of glass in place when broken, 3M Safety & Security Window Films are engineered to impede the quick access that smash-and-grab thieves are looking for along with providing enhanced privacy and even bomb blast protection.
May advises, “The need for security films is not always an obvious one, but for certain situations, it’s the perfect add on. Whether it’s a retail or jewelry store hoping to prevent ‘smash and grab’ thefts, a government building needing high grade protection from flying glass, or a school wanting to protect children and staff from possible violence, The Tint Shop has a vast amount of experience with these situations and many more. Our team of 3M University Certified Professionals are not only trained in the proper installation, but also trained on specific product knowledge, so you know you are getting the exact level of protection you need with government testing to back it up. In fact, 3M Safety & Security Films are on some of the most important buildings in the United States such as the U.S. Capitol, The Pentagon, and The White House to name a few. Our installers have worked with every branch of government, including the FBI, which requires a VERY extensive security background check and strict guidelines for the entire project. Altogether these qualifications mean that when you have questions and concerns about the product installation, or performance, we will have answers. If we don’t have the answers, we find them.”
3M Window Films also come highly recommended by The Skin Cancer Association, ASID, and are Energy Star Rated. You can visit The Tint Shop’s website at tintshoplincoln.com to find out more information, to request an estimate, or even to ask a question. To check out examples of past work, check out The Tint Shop’s on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But best of all, The Tint Shop offers free onsite estimates if you’d just like to know how much you may be looking at to improve the overall quality and comfort of your building or office. Or if you simply have a few questions you’d like answered before you set up an estimate, you can always call The Tint Shop at (402) 466-1355.
Building maintenance and safety go hand-in-hand and General Fire & Safety provides a variety of equipment and services to make sure both needs are met. General Fire & Safety provides a complete line of products to ensure that your building and employees are safe and compliant with all applicable laws, OSHA requirements and building codes, and also provides education and regular inspections and/or assessments to make sure your equipment is still fully functional and well maintained. For example, several vital safety features that every building is required to have by law, regardless of the number of employees or size of the facility, are a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. General Fire & Safety not only offers many different options to choose from; their highly trained staff also provides education about use, maintenance and which will work best for your facility.
Furthermore, maintaining the systems of your building is an important part of protecting your investment and keeping costs to a minimum. Controlling your security system, lighting and HVAC system through your smartphone, tablet or PC not only gives you access to adjust the system at any time but it also will save you a lot of money. AlarmLink USA provides custom security systems for all types of buildings that take into account controlling access to the building as well as its vital systems. Additionally, AlarmLink USA security systems can also incorporate smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, and medical emergency alarms in order to protect your building, the people inside at any given time, and all of the assets under that roof.
“We are committed to the flawless execution of our systems, which are custom designed for each client,” emphasizes RJ Lipert, owner of General Fire & Safety Equipment Company (www.alarmlinkusa.com) and AlarmLink USA (www.alarmlinkusa.com). “Our systems help detour intruders and reduce loss from theft by intruders, which is a big part of maintaining a safe, secure building. You can view what is going on in your building from anywhere in the world with a high-speed Internet connection, at any time and on any number of devices. As far as maintaining your security system, we perform annual inspections and we also recommend that a weekly inspection is performed by the owner of the building to verify proper communications and device functionality.”
As a general rule with all aspects of building maintenance, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of items that should be included on your checklist are things that you’d only notice if they weren’t being done or working properly. Many of your building’s systems and equipment is heavily relied upon to work day in and day out to serve a variety of vital purposes. Proper maintenance will ensure that your daily operations continue to run smoothly without any issues arising that have the potential to compound and seriously affect your business’s bottom line.
Aside from ensuring the safety of its inhabitants, proper building maintenance protects the integrity of the building which affects its aesthetic value as well as minimizing any costly problems that are likely to compound if not actively addressed. All aspects of building maintenance need to be articulated and then handled by the responsible party according to professional recommendations in order for optimal results over time. Luckily in Lincoln there’s no lack of industry experts who keep our buildings both beautiful and functional for all to enjoy!