Tips for facility operations in response to COVID-19

As owners and tenant occupiers seek to evolve their workplaces in light of the changes in utilization brought about through responses to COVID-19, it is important that we take a fresh look at our how our services are controlled and delivered.


Not long after the early signs of the Pandemic became apparent the Schneider Electric local team spent some time brainstorming how commercial buildings managers can make the most of this difficult time, by reducing energy consumption or improving wellbeing within their assets.


Increase Minimum Fresh Air Rates - Wellness

It’s well known that environments with more fresh air help reduce the spread of coronavirus.  Whilst this has a negative energy/NABERs impact, this is a positive health message to tenants who still want staff to turn up every day.


Decrease Fresh Air Rates – Energy

As attendance in the workplace decreases so does the minimum fresh air requirements. From an energy consideration perspective there is now an opportunity to look at the fresh air rates being supplied. If your asset is experiencing far less employees working on site, you may be able to dial down the fresh air you are cycling through the asset – thereby decreasing energy costs.


Zoning  - Energy + Wellness

Consider if the installed systems are zoned to allow users to operate in a section of their building/floor at a time. This could work hand in hand with Wellness and Energy by allowing an increase of the fresh air changes to a zone but offset this by putting another zone on a standby mode. Don’t be caught out putting people too close together!


Hot DesksEfficiency

These are a great way to reduce operating costs for tenants - however with the current climate there is a need to understand how transmission takes place. There are a few opinions on this and generally a good cleaning regime is the key message from health experts.


Technology solutions that track vacant and occupied workplaces offer an additional advantage. They can help employees identify desks with no direct neighbor, or find one that is showing low contamination from VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) picked up from sensing points around the floors. Example systems can include ones like this:


Operating Times – Energy

Stop the plant early or widen the control parameters. Ask yourself, is there less residual heat gain due to the lower occupancy rates? Can areas of low use be temporarily separated and disabled – save energy and allow cleaning regimes to be focused on a smaller area?


Lifts – Energy

Many lift operating systems are pretty smart - but not all - consider setting 1 lift out of 4 offline. Less people, less requirement, less energy.


Accelerate - Efficiency

Can refits/upgrades be done when occupancy is low? Whilst counterintuitive, a downturn could support better pricing as there are less users to avoid and contractors are focused on retaining workload.


Assessors and building owners have raised questions with the NABERS National Administrator (NABERS) and the Commercial Building Disclosure program (CBD) about the impacts of COVID-19 on NABERS ratings.  
For more information on how NABERS is operating during the pandemic,
click here. The document on this page answers questions, provides clarifications and presents three time-bound rulings regarding these impacts. The questions and the ruling have been put into the same document for ease of use by Assessors. 


Digital BMS - Wellness


Many building systems have the ability to be operated remotely and with our clients, as need is identified, so we can set up ways to support and manage buildings remotely using the team who normally support their facility. Whilst this relies on the accuracy of the monitored data it does allow clients to limit contractor attendance and at the same time be confident that their systems are operating optimally for the current times. This can include loan data enabled wi-fi dongles and at the same time activating additional cyber security capability.


To provide users with confidence and support management of contamination Schneider Electric  have options to use a certain type of security camera to monitor body temperatures and alarm when someone enters with a high temperature. The benefits to the workplaces and business are self explanatory and of particular benefit to operators whose business needs to have people in a single location.


And as always, if you have any questions about how you can better handle your assets during the COVID-19 crisis, contact Schneider Electric’s friendly Adelaide team. As a starting point, contact Alan Chalmers, m.0413458126, e. [email protected]