One of the biggest mistakes a facility manager can do is wait for an emergency cooling crisis to occur before deciding on what equipment they will need to handle it the next time it happens.
With the scorching mid-summer temperatures common in Australia, the possibility of a HVAC failure can happen.
Are you prepared now?
In the best case scenario, you are adequately prepared and have systems in place to handle this cooling emergency. Backup cooling systems are brought online straightaway.
Spot coolers or portable air conditioning units are placed around select locations within the facility to provide temporary and localized comfort.
However, this may be cumbersome for more than a few rooms.
So, you also have access to rental cooling units that can be implemented within 24 to 48 hours.
Everything is in place to help give you time to repair the HVAC unit and to keep your facility operational and to maintain the comfort of occupants within the building.
You can breathe a sigh of relief.
Your bases are covered.
But what if the crisis strikes and you didn’t plan ahead?
In a panic to get your hands on portable cooling units from local rental dealers, you didn’t consider that there may be a heavy demand for coolers from other facilities and now there is none available.
So what do you do now?
Let’s take a few steps back now and consider what proactive steps you can take now to help you prepare effectively for cooling emergencies.
Identify the Risks
Have you considered the risks of a cooling failure at your facility?
Injuries to occupants, damage to fragile electronic equipment, facility shutdowns, or even financial losses are just few of the risks associated with this type of emergency.
One of the most important questions for facility and safety managers to ask themselves is how to keep the occupants safe within the facility. From health care centers, educational facilities, and office buildings, the priority of any solid emergency plan is the health and well-being of people.
Risk management also means protecting the facility’s assets. Electronic equipment, telecommunication and computer rooms, and power distribution systems are all examples of assets that should be considered when identifying the risks of a cooling emergency.
So the first step in creating an emergency plan is to identify those key areas that must be kept cool in the event of a HVAC failure and then prioritize them according to those most essential.
Determine Your Cooling Needs
The next step is to estimate the amount of cooling that is needed to maintain optimal space conditions within the facility.
Taking into account several key factors will help you determine the cooling load required to cool a particular space.
Heat produced by equipment, lighting, and people should be considered as well as the radiant heat coming through exterior walls, windows, and roof.
Special consideration should be given to areas with lots of people, and exposed and unshaded windows that filter in excessive sunshine and heat.
A rough estimate of 600 Btu per person can be used to help with this cooling load calculation.
For example, a 400 square foot room with less than 20 people occupants would require about 12,000 Btu.
A more crowded room with more heat-generating equipment would obviously require a lot more.
Select Your Equipment
To provide the adequate cooling that is required during a cooling crisis, facility managers have a variety of equipment options.
But first they must consider the type of cooling the potential emergency calls for.
Small, portable units can offer on-demand cooling for electrical equipment rooms or several office rooms.
Much larger units that deliver 250 tonnes of cooling to a wider area are usually mounted on semi-trailers and set up outside the facility.
Back-up cooling systems are also considered to provide that extra support during the HVAC failure.
Consider your options and reach out to your local manufacturers and rental companies that offer emergency cooling units. They can offer the specialized guidance needed to plan your emergency plan effectively.