Managing unoccupied buildings – FMJ publication

FMJ Magazine talked to the industry specialists, including Arty Shaw, Salisbury’s Director of Engineering, about managing unoccupied spaces. Below we publish a section of the article and link to the full version.

“For the majority, the world has gone into standby mode, with some businesses and non-critical operations closing their doors indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For others, the expectation remains that employees continue to go to work, all the while adopting some new and very alien approaches to their everyday tasks.

Arty Shaw, Director of Engineering for FM provider Salisbury Group, agrees that connected software tools are important in providing an intelligent solution to building requirements. He says: “We’ve already found that for some buildings clients think they’ve shut all their systems down, but using remote monitoring, they find that the kit is still on timers, and it’s kicking in and using a considerable amount of energy.

“This is why remote monitoring is critical in this pandemic. If companies have those sorts of sensors fitted, and it’s being monitored with a proper dashboard, you can look at live trends that show which kit is still on, what could be turned off, turned down or programmed to come on periodically.”

One of the most difficult decisions facing organisations is whether or not to shut buildings down completely during the lockdown. Shaw believes total closure could be a mistake. “At Salisbury we use the analogy of a building being viewed as a human body. BMS is the brain, HVAC is the heart and lungs, electricity is the nervous system and water is the plasma/lymphatic system. As such, we consider ‘palliative care’ for a building to be an essential strategy rather than shutting down systems and allowing them to decay. Little and often is better than nothing at all.”


He argues that the level of work required to recommission a building for occupancy will be predicated on the amount (and type) of maintenance that is carried out while it is unoccupied. “For instance, ensuring that a HVAC system operates at its minimum running parameters and continues to both push fluid around the pipework and provide positive pressure will safeguard the system from corrosion and sludge build-up. Our strategy is to engage with the client and determine the level of occupancy, the period of reduced occupancy and the business criticality of the building. This will then influence and inform the regime we will promote to them.”

You can read the full article here: fmj.co.uk