HVAC equipment is expensive. Chances are HVAC maintenance is a significant number in your annual budget allotment.
It can be difficult to justify replacement, especially when troubleshooting can find a solution to keep the old system in place for just a little while longer. Should you really spend large amounts of capital for new equipment, when a little repair work may keep it running for a few more months?
The decision can be a tricky one. It can be a fine line for a manager to determine the best solution for the situation. Upgrading can bring a lot of benefits including:
- Enhanced efficiency
- Greater occupant comfort
- Environmentally friendly equipment
It can also be one of the most difficult projects you take on. Every time you upgrade your HVAC equipment, there exists potential for:
- Workplace disruption
- Unanticipated equipment challenges
- Building occupant discomfort
With a savvy implementation plan, you can set realistic expectations for the project from beginning to end, and use that to develop an open line of communication with everyone impacted by the decision and the constraints of the project.
The starting point is proper planning. Especially with an older HVAC system with a lot of retrofits in place, planning is key to making sure the project will run smoothly. Plan for the best case scenario; plan for the worst. Develop back up scenarios for any disruptions that may occur or impact the people working within your building. Also include a list of possible delays and how you will handle each problem, such as what if you have structural problems with the new equipment, or equipment is delayed or simply not available as you need it.
Rather than rushing a situation, you are far better off having back up plans in place before you remove the first piece of equipment. Make sure every impacted person and office understands the time commitment to upgrading the equipment, and has wiggle room for the just-in-case issues that may occur.
As you finalize your decisions, remember, the more parties involved in the planning, the more room for error. As a facility manager, it is important to coordinate activities of all parties involved. The more contractors you’ve had work on the system, provide feedback and give quotes, the more confusing the overall process can be. Especially if you have to communicate this feedback to upper management who may have the final say.
Trust is a big part of making the right decisions. If you understand the implications of running the HVAC system the old way versus upgrading it, and you trust the advice of the contractor you are working with, it can make pitching the cost and the benefits that much easier.