As the Coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, commercial real estate owners, managers and building engineers have had to come up with cost-cutting and building performance optimization strategies on the fly for their properties as work conditions have changed drastically in a short amount of time.
Aquicore is a leading CRE software real estate company that features an all-in-one operations platform and has recently made its experts available to provide insight as the CRE and proptech community try to adjust the “new normal” the health crisis has caused. Aquicore founder and CEO Logan Soya recently spoke with Connected Real Estate Magazine about how CRE owners can make their buildings more eco-friendly and work with tenants during this trying time while still keeping their operations going.
Connected Real Estate Magazine: How is COVID-19 impacting the built environment? Why is it having such an impact?
Logan Soya: As downtowns and commercial centers empty out, we are seeing a focus on reducing energy consumption to match reduced building occupancy which is a major win for CO2 reduction during this time.
Connected: How can CRE managers best adjust their building operations during this time?
LS: Many offices are advising their tenants that their buildings will be operating under a “holiday” schedule which can include modifying the availability of on-premise services, staff, and facilities, and requiring key cards or fobs for entry to the building or for use of elevators. A “holiday” schedule gives offices an opportunity to reduce HVAC services during unoccupied periods and can result in savings up to 35 to 40 percent of utility expenses.
A foolproof holiday schedule will include sufficient setbacks such as an unoccupied heating set point of 55 degrees and an unoccupied cooling set point of 85 degrees. However, a modification to such a holiday schedule may be in order to provide additional ventilation to the space. Fortunately, many commercial buildings can take advantage of free cooling due to the mild weather. An industry best practice is to use setbacks instead of disabling equipment. However, in an instance where disabling equipment is required, confirm freeze protection is functional.
Connected: What’s the best way CRE owners can walk the proverbial tightrope between keeping their tenants and staff safe, while also managing and operating their business?
LS: CRE owners and operators should leverage technology such as remote monitoring and remote access in order to work from home and contribute to the nationwide efforts of social distancing. CRE owners and operators are relying on or investing in software platforms to remotely monitor their buildings and equipment. Remote energy monitoring allows property teams to retain visibility into the inner workings of their buildings and be alerted of issues while decreasing their time on-site. While there will likely always be a need for at least one engineer on-site, or nearby in case of emergency, teams are choosing to work in alternating shifts to reduce contact.
Connected: What else should CRE owners know about efficiently running their buildings during this time?
LS: From an operational perspective, ensuring that your building is operating efficiently during these times of reduced occupancy is a key way to avoid unnecessary spending. This is particularly important with the looming potential of an economic downturn.