An important issue that cannot be overlooked when considering the importance of HVAC maintenance is indoor air quality. The operating condition of HVAC equipment is critical to indoor air quality. A well-maintained system will not only protect occupants from poor IAQ, but also protect the organization from litigation, adverse publicity and potential code violations — all of which can have an impact on the bottom line. The facility executive is responsible for demonstrating to budget managers how maintenance impacts IAQ. The cost of HVAC system maintenance is very small in comparison to the potential costs related to poor IAQ issues and their related fallout.
Identify areas where the facility is experiencing IAQ issues. Develop a maintenance plan for dealing with those issues, including both corrective and long-term preventive measures, and what that plan would cost. If possible, identify other similar organizations that have experienced similar IAQ issues and the impact that those issues have had on those organizations, including corrective costs, downtime, fines, and litigation.
Above all, be careful when presenting the case that every issue raised is supported by documentation. Present hard data on the condition of the equipment, its maintenance requirements, the cost of those maintenance activities, and the consequences of not performing that maintenance. Without that documented support, facility executives run the risk of being perceived as crying wolf.
The tone and theme of every funding request should be tied to cost, cost avoidance and value. Avoid arguments based solely on opinion because a business decision needs to be made. Dollars and cents will win the argument.
James Piper, PhD, PE, is a writer and consultant who has more than 25 years of experience in facilities management. He is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management.
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