Act Now to Keep the Lights On – ‘News on the Block’ Magazine, Dec 2014

Act Now to Keep the Lights On – ‘News on the Block’ Magazine, Dec 2014

As building surveyors we have historically been employed to prepare what are widely referred to as planned maintenance programmes.  Such plans have been based on the requirements prescribed in leases and the technical requirements of the property in question. For example how often does the building need redecorating, when do we need to replace the communal boilers and when does the roof need renewing?  The focus is usually based on the capital expenditure of such works with little or no consideration given to running costs including energy costs of providing gas, electricity, heat, water and light.

At Harris Associates we advise clients more holistically about how to dovetail the building fabric and services installations into one concise plan whilst promoting the dual considerations of capital expenditure, running costs and energy costs.  Essentially, we help to develop an Energy Strategy that can be adopted as part of the long term maintenance plan for the property in question.

The areas we look at include:

  • Fabric of the property including external envelope, roofs, insulation, windows
  • Boilers & associated plant for heating and hot water installations
  • Conduits, pipes & cabling
  • Electrical installations including small power & lighting
  • Lift installations
  • Other mechanical installations such as ventilation & air conditioning

From here we move forward and develop the energy strategy.  Typically our Energy Strategy approach includes:

  • Review of current services installation(s) maintenance regimes
  • Period of measurement of how services are used, peak demands / consumption & cost
  • Understand usage difference / demands between apartments
  • Review of running costs, tariffs including review of energy providers charges
  • Technical assessment of existing systems including energy efficiency scores
  • Consideration of technological advances, trends, energy prices & alternative fuels
  • Assessment & commentary on leases & legal ownership of services plant, conduits & pipes
  • Assessment of condition of conduits & pipes in apartments and in risers
  • Forecast elemental maintenance costs
  • Consider options to improve efficiency – mechanical & electrical
  • Consider making changes to how apartments are served – i.e. look into the possibility of changing from communal services to individual apartment services such as combination / condensing boilers per apartment
  • Assess where the control of services provision can be improved
  • Consider the building fabric maintenance requirements to ensure advantages in combining capital expenditure maintenance works with any major energy improvement projects

The above list is not exhaustive and each property must be considered on its own merits.  At the conclusion of the process a clear summary of findings and recommendations can be made supported by hard facts and illustrations of how capital expenditure and running costs have been dovetailed to maximum benefit for all.  The findings of the Energy Strategy process are then adopted as part of the long term maintenance plan.  The process of developing an Energy Strategy could take up to 12 months and may change over that period and indeed may change beyond that period.  With the upward global demand for energy set to continue and with the corresponding cost increases, if you don’t want the lights turned off, develop your Energy Strategy now.

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