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Three Areas to Consider for Greater Resilience

Resilience has become a hot-button topic in facilities management. It crosses over into sustainability, but also touches on areas such as security and business continuity. Here Sarene Marshall, executive director of the Center for Sustainability with the Urban Land Institute, offers a few areas of focus for making existing facilities more resilient.

1. Power Reliability. "Power outages are one of those first line issues with business continuity and resilience. Can you keep your systems up and running? Hospitals have long had generators but many other places don't. There is new technology coming online that could enable buildings to have more backup power. For example, backup battery technology. Also, onsite energy production, which is taking off for a variety of reasons, including energy efficiency and reducing emissions, can provide resilience as well, because [a facility is] not dependent on the grid."

2. Building Infrastructure. Marshall says some pretty basic, but interesting, things have been learned through the impact of major recent storms about the importance of passive survivability. For example, operable windows. When the power is out, being able to provide some ventilation by opening the windows can help keep a facility habitable. "The building may be built already without operable windows, but if you're already at the point of refurbishment, that's an opportunity," Marshall says.

3. Water Supply. Marshall suggest facility managers should closely consider what kind of water supply they have at their facility and what are their options if their primary source is unavailable. "Water supply can be a major interruption, depending on your location and the kind of infrastructure you're connected to," Marshall says. "Some of the really innovative building ideas are things like onsite water recycling that doesn't depend on water treatment plants being operational."

For more on resilience in commercial facilities, check out "Using Planning, Checklists, Other Tools to Improve Resilience in Existing Buildings".

It's part of the July Building Operating Management's extended coverage on resilience.


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