Most of the ways of improving a building’s operational efficiency are economical and simple to execute. From thought-through designing to efficient operations and maintenance, there are many methods to ensure an improvement in the dependability, energy efficiency, equipment durability and safety of a building.
Let us look at a few of them:
- Value Engineering: The roots of an efficient building are laid out during the planning stage. It is crucial to have a Project Management Consultant (PMC) on board during the initial planning stage. The PMC will make modification to the designs and systems (called value engineering) from an end usage and facility management point of view, in a cost effective manner. This exercise will contribute in making the building more durable.
- Amenities: Developers have often added unnecessary amenities to projects, not realising the problems faced in the future with the maintenance of such amenities. Most luxury amenities have high operational costs, low tenant usage and have a limited life cycle & the replacement value of the same is exorbitant, often burdening the residents/tenants/end users of the building. Rarely used amenities are usually a drag on the resources and efficiency of a building; hence a lot of thought has to be put into designing amenities, keeping in mind, the usage pattern of the end user.
- Equipment Maintenance: A major component of common area maintenance (CAM) charges is the AMC costs for equipment in the building like – Elevators, HVAC Systems, Plumbing Systems, DG Sets, Alarm Systems and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP). To keep these costs low, one should lock in an annual maintenance contract (AMC) with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) during the Defects Liability Period (DLP) of the equipment. This ensures longevity & durability of the equipment as well as continuous maintenance from a service provider, who knows the equipment better than any other third party contractor.
- Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM): An experienced facility management team usually operates a PPM schedule, which ensures that there is periodic maintenance of equipment, resulting in durability and optimal running of the systems. This also impacts maintenance costs, as any unexpected breakdown of equipment is prevented or efficiently managed. PPM schedules also keep the AMC service providers on their toes as they are aware that an internal team is continuously observing and auditing the service frequencies and operational efficiencies of the equipment.
- Technology: A professional facility management team will typically institute processes & technology to measure service levels of each team (security, MEP, housekeeping,) working at the property, thereby improving efficiency & productivity. Technology is often used to reduce dependence on manpower, especially in elevators and parking lots through the use of Biometric Systems, Perimeter Protection & RFID Card readers. Devices contribute in a big way to track movement of people and vehicles on the premises as well as reduce the cost burden.
- Audits: The first step in ascertaining the efficiency of a building is to conduct an energy audit. Energy auditors use specialized tools and skills to evaluate your building’s electrical systems and circuits and recommend the simple and cost-effective measures to improve its efficiency as well as detect problems that could cause short-circuits and fires in the future. Conducting an energy audit once a year and implementing the suggested changes, will ensure a marked reduction in electricity consumption of the building, leading to reduced CAM charges.
- Waste Management: The facility management team needs to educate and enable occupants to segregate wet and dry waste at the source and efficiently collect the same. The dry waste can be disposed off via scrap merchants and garbage collection trucks of the municipal authorities, whereas the wet waste can be turned to compost via a compost machine in the building premises. The compost thus generated can be used in the garden of the building or be given to the many NGOs that collect it. An effective way to reduce water usage and costs is to install a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) & Rain-Water Harvesting tanks in the building. An optimally running STP will recycle water to be used in the flushing tanks, thereby making the building more efficient.
(The writer is vice-president, SILA)