Hard Data Coming on Maintenance, Operation

March 14, 2011
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Barb Checket-Hanks

A few years ago, I suggested in an article that in order to show building owners the value of regular maintenance, contractors should show building owners information on the performance and longevity of regularly maintained equipment versus the performance and longevity of equipment that was not regularly maintained. Reader response to the idea was outstanding - unfortunately, such hard data didn’t seem to exist.

It looks like that will soon be changing. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently announced that it will be funding research “to improve building maintenance and operation through performance data.”

Now, I am not suggesting that any inquiries I made around the time that article came out had anything to do with this announcement. But it is still a good idea to have this information to show building owners and operators so they can use it to make informed decisions on how their actions, or lack of action, can affect their bottom line in many ways.

Newly funded Research Project 1633, “Data and Interfaces for Advanced Building Maintenance and Operation,” will result in development of a set of standard data-driven metrics, interfaces, and dashboards for advanced building operation and management. From the looks of it, it will focus on the building as the system. The mechanical system, of course, plays a large and interactive role in the big picture.

“Analyzing and interpreting building performance data is critical to the success of high-performance buildings,” said Stephen Samouhos, Ph.D., principal investigator. “This research will help fill a void in standards literature by establishing data-driven metrics, interfaces, and dashboards, organized by building type, that clearly quantify and communicate building performance to a diverse set of building stakeholders.”

What does that potentially mean to you? Sounds to me that the data collected will be able to be used to address the needs and concerns of parties ranging from building owner/occupants and owner/renters, to leasing occupants and other parties. If so, it can be a great help to the mechanical contractors who would like to present maintenance or equipment-replacement proposals to key decision makers, using facts and figures that speak directly to those decision makers’ key areas of concern (productivity, comfort, sustainability, property value, tenant satisfaction, etc.).

Some mechanical contractors have been trying to create their own system performance-longevity metrics, with varying degrees of success. However, probably most decision makers would be more strongly influenced by data that comes from a disinterested third party than they would be by data that comes from the party proposing new equipment or a maintenance contract.

Still other contractors fall back on retelling their own experiences, or using that tired old car maintenance analogy. It is still as true as it ever was, but it just doesn’t seem to get building owners interested in having their system filters changed. The building owner who has already experienced a major system failure due to lack of maintenance, indeed, does have a better chance of accepting this information, but he or she probably did not need a lot of convincing.


Quick comment on another topic: Don’t forget to enter The NEWS’ contest in search of our oldest long-term subscriber! We are pleased with the entries we have received to date, but the contest is by no means over.

It is part of The NEWS’ 85th anniversary celebration, going on all this year. Please submit your entry for “Oldest NEWS Subscriber” to Barbara Checket-Hanks; barbarachecket-hanks@achrnews.com. The winner, to be announced later this year in a NEWS anniversary feature, will be honored by the publication at a special event!

Publication date: 03/14/2011
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