Many building operators have viewed HVAC maintenance as a cost rather than a savings. Balfour Beatty Communities, a firm that manages family housing at more than 50 military installations across the U.S., takes a more proactive view. In 2020, it partnered with Motili to provide routine HVAC maintenance, repair, and replacement work across the company’s portfolio.

Motili is a technology platform that handles all the aspects of managing HVAC repair and replacement jobs, from scheduling to ordering equipment to invoicing. This makes Motili the single point of contact for all property maintenance and equipment replacement.

At the Balfour Beatty properties, Motili replaced many HVAC units, which is expected to reduce energy use by almost 25%. The maintenance is an ongoing process, with HVAC units serviced, cleaned, and maintained at regular intervals throughout the year.

Motili’s services include an important data element. The company use proprietary technology for its asset tagging program. This program has already catalogued most of Balfour Beatty’s HVAC units, providing the company with a 360° view of their HVAC assets. That view includes unit age, condition, efficiency, brand, and more. This program also provides Balfour Beatty with the data to inform both strategic planning and budgeting related to HVAC systems.

Providing housing for military families creates an extra incentive for Balfour Beatty to ensure a comfortable living experience. An analysis of the firm’s maintenance operations found HVAC made up a major portion of the work. The volume of HVAC work and the extensive diversity in HVAC system age and type at each location made it challenging for the local maintenance teams to sustain a consistently high level of preventive maintenance, said Rick Taylor, president of facility operations, renovation, and construction for Balfour Beatty Communities.

The local maintenance directors often had to supplement their efforts using local HVAC contractors. Taylor said finding and managing relationships with local HVAC contractors at more than 50 sites proved ineffective. Balfour Beatty opted to contract with Motili because the company provides a nationwide, consistent solution. Taking a nationwide approach streamlined the procurement process, allowing the local maintenance teams to focus on non-HVAC home maintenance and repairs, Taylor said. It also ensured HVAC systems were consistently serviced by licensed experts.


Pilot Program Leads To Long-Term Contract

The change didn’t happen overnight. The two firms piloted a program using four communities in February 2019. Balfour signed Motili to a multi-year contract the next year. Taylor said the success of the program is ultimately determined by resident satisfaction.

“We believe a rigorous preventive maintenance program is critical to delivering an exceptional experience to our residents, ensuring our homes are comfortable and HVAC systems operate effectively over the long-term,” he said. “Working with Motili, we have been able to accelerate upgrades and, in the process, have substantially improved the sustainable performance of our HVAC units.”

Taylor sees more property managers, such as his firm, moving toward outsourcing maintenance. He said advances in HVAC equipment provide many benefits, but the added complexity puts them beyond the skill level of most general maintenance crews. Matthew Sallee, vice president of sales and business development at Motili, agrees.

“We see owners and operators moving to a shared services model,” Sallee said.

Using this model ensures property managers get consistent service and pricing in widespread markets. Taylor said the outcomes were far greater than they could have achieved with their in-house maintenance teams. Balfour Beatty is considering a similar approach to other services, such as landscaping and trash collection, he said.

“The most exciting aspect of this type of program is that residents are able to enjoy a far more comfortable and upgraded home that is also more efficient and environmentally friendly — something that resonates with many of our residents today,” Taylor said.