Monitoring buildings remotely during Covid-19

Thousands of buildings now stand empty. Demand Logic’s Mike Darby explains what to look out for when remote monitoring

Before Covid-19, the UK had never experienced such a widespread occurrence of emptied commercial buildings since World War II, resulting in an enforced new approach to building management. But how do you know what you should be managing when you aren’t on site?

1 Health and safety

If you have people on site, this is paramount. Monitor hot water, check that it is stored at the right temperature and occasionally pasteurised, and carry out wet systems testing to ensure compliance. Also, check ventilation, temperature control, reduction in recirculation and heat recovery – recent guidance has stressed the importance of well-ventilated spaces during the pandemic.

2 Management of equipment

Much has been switched off to save energy costs, but offline equipment could be at risk of damage if not maintained. Chillers must have crankcase heaters operational; pumps, valves and fan motors can seize if not exercised; and water can stagnate in closed systems leading to bacteria growth and potentially major damage to pipework and equipment.

3 Energy costs

In my experience, no building has ever shut down to a minimum expected level. Why? Usually, because the building management system has behaved unexpectedly causing equipment to operate when it doesn’t need to. Only necessary systems should be operating, so as to minimise operating costs.

4 Insurance risk

Monitoring building and equipment means you are keeping an eye on your insurance risk. Seizures can lead to asset damage and, potentially, replacement – and a hike in your premium.

5 Business critical systems

Critical systems such as server rooms must remain operational throughout a ‘shutdown’ to maintain data integrity and use of VPNs, among others. Without these, a tenant’s business has increased risk of slowdown or failure. Compounded with the impact of Covid-19, this needs to be avoided.

Mike Darby is CEO and co-founder at Demand Logic