Energy efficiency is key to decreasing costs. Maintenance professionals understand the importance of updating all of their buildings' systems and replacing old equipment with advanced components that will cut energy expenses and promote optimal performance - measures that help schools earn certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Securing a spot on this list has a number of perks - from government incentives to personal reductions in utilities' costs - that make it an appealing endeavor for many institutions. That being said, despite the clear benefits of becoming LEED certified, maintenance staffs should be prepared, as the process associated with this honor can be challenging for schools, especially those that are on the older side.
Age poses a problem for LEED certification
The more dated buildings are, the more effort you have to exert to get all of their components up to code. Various systems throughout a school have to operate in accordance with LEED standards, which foster efficiency and ultimately aim to increase sustainability. Making the necessary repairs and replacements to earn a LEED certification can be a challenge in and of itself. Some schools are so old that they have to uphold their historical integrity - a requirement that adds another layer of complexity to maintenance professionals' updating initiatives.
The University of Virginia as a prime example of age and efficiency efforts going head-to-head. The source explained that this institution, as well as other schools of its kind, has had to wrestle with several competing issues - including inconvenient structural obstacles to historical hurdles - due to its age.
"It certainly presents a challenge for us to access the HVAC and lighting systems to repair and replace them without causing any further damage to the building," Ryan Taylor, maintenance superintendent at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, explained in the article. "We have to work closely with our historic preservation team to make sure we're following the appropriate procedures and using proper materials for the repairs. We work closely with them to identify major problems that we need to focus on and make sure we're taking the right steps to prepare them properly so those buildings can be preserved."
The University of Virginia is not alone in this respect. No matter the challenges maintenance professionals could encounter over the course of their efficiency efforts, they should focus on the long-term returns that these endeavors promise, as these benefits make initiatives well worth their while.
Leverage preventive - not reactive - maintenance for results
Proactive and reactive maintenance yield different results. Continually making repairs on equipment that isn't maintained with a PM program can be like throwing good money away. Unexpected repairs or emergency replacements after equipment fails is a costly and stressful maintenance strategy. A better best practice is to prioritize preventive maintenance, which involves spending a portion of your school's resources up front, but that pays off in the end with greater efficiency, longer equipment lifecycles and lower costs - related to both operations and maintenance.
"Research shows it costs $4 long-term to remedy every $1 saved by deferring maintenance now," according to SchoolDude's whitepaper "Deferring Now Costs You Later". "Preventive maintenance can help systems, equipment and buildings last longer, resulting in less costly repairs and delays in replacement needs. For example, a PM program can extend the life of a roof by 30% and repairs for an HVAC unit can costs 3 to 4 times more than PM costs. Not only are these equipment pieces costly; they affect student performance. If a room is too hot or cold due to a non-working HVAC system, student and faculty learning will be disrupted."
You will likely see the value in springing for a system overhaul so that your school can function up to LEED standards. Because there is so much time and effort that goes into satisfying the guidelines tied to each certification ranking, you need to be strategic and follow a distinct plan of attack so you can be successful.
Make moves to increase efficiency
SchoolDude's whitepaper "Smart Thinking: 12 Steps Forward to Reducing Energy Consumption at Colleges and Universities" advised that you go through a certain process when tackling these maintenance tasks so you can quickly implement changes and ensure lasting results. For example, after selecting someone to oversee these tasks, you will want to examine data to determine industry benchmarks.
After evaluating facts and figures, you can devise a budget, set goals, devise a plan and establish compliance policies for everyone to uphold. Once you get stakeholders - ranging from administrators to teachers to students - you can all work together to make simple changes and alter your behaviors, disclosing all of the progress made. Keeping everything transparent will show everyone the value and payoff of your efficiency efforts, which garners support and promotes progress.