The leaves are falling, everything is pumpkin spice, and retailers are about a heartbeat away from putting out Christmas decorations. It's that time of year again: time to winter-proof your building.We've put together a short list of the most important tasks for you to get to while it's still a little bit warm. Don't wait until it's too late! In commercial buildings, an ounce of foresight is often worth several thousand dollars worth of regret.
One of the most common causes of damage to buildings in the winter is frozen pipes. Dealing with pipes is a pain when it's cold, so take the time to do a thorough check of your plumbing and mechanical systems. This includes ensuring that freeze protection devices have power and are on, that there are no leaky valves, that freeze stats are set to the correct temperature. It might be worth doing a test to be sure that freeze stats are working properly. It doesn't need to be said that the damage that can be done by an undetected leak far exceeds the cost of the lost water.
The next item on your list is roof drainage. If your gutter is blocked, it could slow the path of water from rain and melting snow. This could result in frozen, damaged gutters, which are a costly repair. Even worse, water could be rerouted into the building enclosure, causing significant water damage. Be sure that roof drainage equipment is free of blockages and in working order.
Small gaps in your building's insulation can result in large amounts of wasted heat year after year. This year, take the time to search for anywhere in your building where insulation may be damaged or missing. This sort of analysis is easier with submetering and an EMS, because these tools will let you see how individual spaces are performing relative to one another and to historical data. This helps you to determine where to focus your efforts.
Another thing that's easier with an EMS is using startup and shutdown times to shave money off your utility bills every day. Deciding when to startup a building can be hard - no one wants to start too late, annoy their tenants, and catch a higher peak load charge - but most buildings can safely cut things a little closer. An EMS can use weather data and your building's history to tell you how long it will take to get up to comfortable temperatures.
It's easy to find your building's baseload creeping up during the winter months. Remember to keep an eye on that line - if too much energy is being used during off-hours, there may be something that is being left running overnight that doesn't have to. At the same time, remember not to let your building get too cold overnight. Building's that regularly dip too low run the risk of frozen pipes on especially cold nights.