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Managing real estate in times of crisis: Adjusting occupied buildings remotely

COVID-19 real estate global crisis

In part 3 of this blog series discussing smart building tech’s role in times of crisis, we explained how to adapt your building operations for sites that have reduced or no occupancy.

Certain buildings remain as busy as ever during a global crisis, however. Hospitals, grocery stores and pharmacies are just a few examples of businesses that are in greater demand than ever during an emergency lockdown. During these times it’s crucial that essential workers are kept safe and as comfortable as possible while they carry out their essential roles.

For buildings that are still occupied during a lockdown, here are some recommendations from the Switch engineers and other industry experts to consider: 

  1. Increase outdoor air ventilation (use caution in polluted areas) and run ventilating equipment 24/7 to help provide air dilution throughout the day. This may mean disabling demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) in occupied areas so ventilation isn’t decreased with DCV operation (ASHRAE). 
  2. Increase air filtration to MERV-13 or higher; or use portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters. For central air filtration, consider the tradeoffs between increased filtration and the resulting reduced airflow. 
  3. Encourage water filling stations, instead of water fountain use. 
  4. Maintain relative humidity between 40 and 60% (while considering point humidification in arid climates). In humid climates, mold formation is shown to start at 70% RH.
  5. Using the Alerts Analysis tool in the Switch Platform, you can build Logic to verify that relative humidity sensors are consistently in this range during occupied hours. If humidification / dehumidification systems are not performing properly, you will receive an Alert to help mitigate.  
  6. Add UV disinfection for critical surfaces and internal equipment within an AHU (coils, filter racks). 
  7. Use the Switch Events tool to track and manage the changes you’ve made. When it comes time to revert back to more standard operating procedures, you can resolve the Events—helping you to track and communicate any modifications to vendors, stakeholders and tenants. 
  8. Utilize Logic Builder to alert when your building is not performing as intended, in the new occupied mode.  
  9. Please keep in mind that while HVAC control is a contributing factor to maintaining a safer operating facility in these times, the strongest measures to stop spread of infection relate to social distancing, surface disinfection, and other basic CDC guidelines

Please reach out if we can help in anyway — we’re here to ensure you can remotely monitor, manage and optimize your buildings.

Talk to an expert about how our industry-leading smart building platform helps building owners and operators save energy, create digital FM jobs and reduce operating costs.

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