Post-pandemic HVAC health: how to meet changing demand in commercial buildings

4th December 2023

Covid-19 changed the working world overnight in 2020. Fast forward to 2023, and it might feel like ‘business as usual’, but the way we work has changed forever – and so has building management.

Adapting Commercial Buildings for Post-Pandemic Realities

Commercial buildings from a pre-pandemic era have been designed to operate safely and efficiently in accordance with the original usage. When this changes – either in volume of occupants, or the way it functions – essential HVAC may no longer meet demand.

Facilities managers and those responsible for HVAC maintenance must be dynamic in their response to change to ensure buildings are operating efficiently and safely.

How have working patterns changed?

Pre-pandemic, ‘sick days’ were discouraged, and it was common for people to come into the office coughing and sneezing. Only 5% of people worked from home most of the time.

But by April 2020, this figure had jumped to 43% and three years on, 44% of UK workers are still working from home for some or all of the week. Recent data from Leesman shows that 74% of UK employees plan to be in the office two or fewer days a week, with Monday and Friday being particularly quiet.

The flexible approach to work that was forced upon us during the pandemic has endured and many people are benefitting from a hybrid model. But what does this mean for commercial building management?

Legionella prevention for commercial buildings

When buildings are operating at a reduced capacity, or shut down completely, essential maintenance tasks are more important than ever. Most commercial HVAC systems rely on water-based plant which is vulnerable to pathogen proliferation and corrosion, risking human health, loss of productivity and expensive infrastructure assets.

If buildings are left dormant, or in the event of changes to occupancy and/or usage, FMs must review water treatment plans and processes, including:

  • Legionella Risk Assessment to ensure compliance with ACoP L8
  • Water storage levels
  • Pipe work distribution pipe sizes to ensure delivery of cold-water temperatures within statutory parameters
  • Redundant services that can potentially be mothballed
  • Use of secondary disinfection, a useful tool in the armoury against bacterial takeover. The latest range of secondary disinfection products are highly effective, eco-friendly, safe and money saving.

Guardian’s approach to secondary disinfection

Get help with your Legionella Risk Assessment

Preventing corrosion in commercial HVAC systems

Maintenance should not be reduced just because occupancy has. When buildings go unchecked, early red flags can easily be missed, which, in the case of corrosion, can lead to system failure and in the worst cases, expensive litigation.

Contact us to how we can help keep your building running smoothly, whether under-occupied or changing usage.