Preventative measures such as water maintenance for unoccupied premises depends very much on the specific needs of a building rather than generic guidance, according to an expert at the Building Engineering Services Association.
Graeme Fox, technical director at BESA, told Facilitate that he agreed that legionella, for instance, was a matter that had to be looked at – but stressed the need for individual risk assessment.
Fox said: “The procedures that are currently in place for preventing legionella in facilities contracts, for example, may be inadequate and those should really be risk assessed and re-looked at, to take into account the fact that the water usage in buildings will be considerably lower.”
He added: “People are looking for generic guidance and advice and the trouble is, water systems are very much like the ventilation systems or the air conditioning, it's not really something you can be very generic about. Each building has different peculiarities.”
It also must be considered how parts of some buildings may be well used compared with other parts, which would require a different tactic.
Fox added that “in a large multistorey office block or sublet, one of the offices may be getting used as normal on one of the floors and the rest of the multistorey building could be sitting empty” and that is “going to have a very significant effect on how the maintenance regime is carried out because you're still going to get a good flow of water regularly on that floor where the office is still being used”.
However, he said that if there is a common storage tank providing water to the whole building then that could be a problem along with “all the dead links that are being created in the rest of the building because there's just no water flowing”.
Facilitate earlier reported on how facilities managers and building maintenance teams should prioritise legionella prevention and water system maintenance to “stop the ongoing trend of sample failure rates caused by underused buildings”.