Driving Building Energy Efficiency through Proactive Maintenance

Published on 21 Feb, 2024read time 5 mins
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Maintenance and building energy efficiency are often viewed as distinct concepts, with each falling within separate departments. However, it is essential to recognize that maintenance plays an important role in curbing energy consumption and delivering energy efficiency in buildings. The key lies in adopting the appropriate maintenance approach to achieve energy savings.

Traditionally, the facility management industry has relied on Reactive and Preventive Maintenance over the years. While these methods may have worked in the past, the digital age demands a shift in approach. To drive building energy efficiency, it is necessary to monitor building energy consumption and implement maintenance strategies not only for building energy optimization but to also eliminate issues that cause excessive energy consumption. 

By adopting Proactive maintenance, you are aiming to prevent irreparable damage due to asset breakdown and avoid disruptions to operations. Proactive maintenance will not only help minimise downtime but also yield energy savings. Let's look at how proactive maintenance can help you achieve greater building energy efficiency.

What is Proactive maintenance and how it is different from Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance focuses on repairing and fixing the equipment/asset only when it breaks down. It may fix the asset but eventually it reduces the lifespan of the asset and creates unplanned overhead costs. Even in the case of preventive maintenance, performing maintenance without need and in excess can result in ageing of the equipment.

The right approach is to keep an asset in an optimal condition and perform maintenance proactively. This reduces the chances of downtime. The asset lifecycle increases and it directly affects the energy performance. Poor asset management would lead to more energy consumption as per studies. 

Proactive maintenance focuses on identifying problems before they occur. Proactive maintenance requires regular monitoring and maintenance of assets based on their condition and anticipated needs rather than waiting for breakdowns.

This is a need for a cultural shift of thinking, executing and managing. Proactive maintenance solution shifts the maintenance paradigm from reactive, unplanned activities to planned, proactive actions. This will help your organization to get more value from its assets, the maintenance budget and upfront costs are reduced, profit margins increase, the actual work being done by the O&M team is easier and saves their time and effort for more critical tasks. 

Top three proactive maintenance strategies that you should consider:

  1. Predictive Maintenance (PdM): Predictive maintenance makes use of data and technology to predict when equipment is likely to malfunction. Various sensors, monitoring tools, and analytics are employed to evaluate the condition of assets, enabling early intervention before a breakdown occurs.
  2. Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM): Similar to predictive maintenance, condition-based maintenance requires monitoring the actual condition of the assets in real-time. It uses sensors and data analysis to identify changes in asset condition, requiring maintenance actions as needed.
  3. Reliability-Centred Maintenance (RCM): RCM is a comprehensive approach to determining the most efficient and cost-effective maintenance strategies for each piece of equipment. It takes into account the criticality of assets and focuses on reducing the negative effects of failure.

How Proactive Maintenance Affects Building Energy Efficiency?

The main objective of proactive maintenance is closely monitoring assets and deal with issues before they escalate into unplanned downtime. For closely monitoring assets in real-time, you need to deploy IoT sensors. The role of IoT sensors is to generate real-time data from assets. This data empowers the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) team to monitor asset conditions closely and plan for building energy management. By getting insights into the condition of equipment, O&M teams can take preventive measures to ensure its peak performance, contributing to building energy efficiency.

Traditionally, facilities have relied on reactive and preventive maintenance which can result in higher energy consumption because poorly maintained equipment uses more energy to operate. In contrast, proactive maintenance enables companies to address potential issues before they escalate. By reducing unexpected breakdowns and optimising asset performance, proactive maintenance solution minimise the energy consumption of poorly maintained equipment and ultimately help in building energy optimization.

You can get started by implementing proactive maintenance strategies, such as predictive maintenance, which focuses on assessing the individual asset’s current condition. This helps to plan corrective actions before the asset experiences an unexpected failure and keep assets in optimal condition, thereby extending their overall lifespan. Implementing the right tool or technology for monitoring the asset condition in real-time is crucial. Longer asset lifecycles translate to sustained energy efficiency, as well-maintained assets tend to operate more efficiently and consume less energy. 

In addition, conducting an energy audit helps to identify assets with high energy consumption. This strategic insight allows companies to plan maintenance or upgrades for assets that significantly contribute to energy consumption. High-energy-consuming systems, such as HVAC, are given close attention to ensure optimal operation and reduce overall energy consumption. 

Lastly, selecting the right proactive maintenance solution that is tailored to the company's needs is necessary. By analyzing and adopting the right proactive maintenance approach, combined with the use of right tools and technology for monitoring and scheduling, companies can optimize their maintenance procedures. This optimization directly contributes to the overall building energy efficiency.

With the right approach to maintenance, you can reduce your energy consumption and aim for superior energy efficiency in buildings.

Challenges in Implementing Proactive Maintenance for Building Energy Efficiency

Facility management companies must overcome several challenges when implementing proactive maintenance to improve building energy efficiency.

  1. Initial Investment: Transitioning to proactive maintenance often requires significant upfront investment in energy-efficient technology, control systems, retrofit projects and training the workforce.
  2. Data Management: Managing and utilizing large volumes of data from IoT sensors to derive meaningful insights for optimizing energy usage requires advanced tools. Using tools like predictive analytics can be overwhelming without proper training.
  3. Skill Gap: Organizations may lack the necessary expertise in predictive analytics and condition monitoring to effectively implement proactive maintenance strategies for building energy management. The current workforce requires training and upskilling to work with advanced tools and technologies.
  4. Change Management: The transition to proactive maintenance necessitates a cultural shift within the organisation, which may encounter resistance from employees who are accustomed to traditional maintenance techniques.
  5. Integration with Existing Systems: Integrating modern maintenance technology and energy-efficient technology with existing building management systems and processes can be complex.
  6. Resource Allocation: Proper resource allocation, including time, budget, and workforce, is necessary for successful proactive maintenance implementation to improve building energy efficiency.

The Holistic Approach to Building Energy Efficiency

Achieving energy efficiency in buildings generally involves two approaches: adopting energy-efficient technology and implementing energy management techniques. While energy-efficient technologies are important, the need for maintenance should not be overlooked in building energy optimization. Emphasising maintenance, particularly with a focus on energy conservation, has the potential to result in significant energy savings. Proactive maintenance techniques, such as predictive maintenance, emerge as valuable contributors, promising not just increased operational efficiency but also higher energy conservation.