Commercial HVAC Equipment

How a Contingency Plan for Your Building is a Brilliant Defense Against Emergencies

Tuesday, June 30 2015 10:29 AM
By Jon Goering

A contingency plan is an excellent way to prepare your facility for emergencies.

A rental air-cooled chiller provides temporary cooling while a chiller changeout is underway.

Have you ever considered how much you rely on cooling in your building? If your facility’s cooling system quit working suddenly, how would it adversely affect your data centers, patient rooms, surgery suites, classrooms or manufacturing processes? How much would it cost you in a day, a week or a month?

Emergencies can come from mechanical breakdowns, weather phenomena or fires and occur at any time. To ensure you are prepared for an unplanned cooling outage, building owners should consider implementing a cooling contingency plan, which is nothing more than preparations made to your building or facility in advance of an emergency. However, building owners often don’t consider planning for cooling emergencies because either they don’t understand the importance of pre-planning or think an emergency “won’t happen to us.”

“Contingency planning is vital when your business cannot afford to be down,” says Ryan Whittaker, a marketing engineer for Trane Rental Services. “From hospitals and hotels to manufacturing, one day down can cost millions in production loss or upset customers.”

Since rental equipment comes in a variety of sizes from small, portable one-ton units that plug into a wall up to semi-trailer mounted, water-cooled machines that provide 1,000-plus tons of cooling, building owners have a number of options available to them to meet emergencies. Other rental options include rooftop units, air-handling units, cooling towers, boilers and generators. Industry experts agree that larger and more critical buildings and facilities require more complex plans.

When creating a cooling contingency plan, building owners should consider three things, Whittaker says.

  1. Electrical connection and need. Air-cooled machines are the biggest part of the rental industry. However, they need more power than a water-cooled machine. If you do not have the power for an air-cooled machine and need to go with a water-cooled machine, you need to expect longer set-up and potentially more cost if you do not have a (cooling) tower.
  2. Water connections if you have a need for a rental machine. Having water taps in a convenient location to the outside of the building can save time and money in an emergency situation. The cost of hose can skyrocket if you have to pipe long distances.
  3. Vendor. Having a partner you can trust in an emergency is vital to get the equipment you need. They need to be available 24/7/365. They also need to have technicians and equipment staged and ready to roll at a moment’s notice.

Other considerations include:

  1. Document what heating and cooling equipment your building currently uses.
  2. Understand how much cooling your building would need in an emergency if cooling was lost.
  3. Determine what areas would need to be conditioned.
  4. Identify areas where breakdowns are likely to occur.
  5. Determine where rental equipment would be placed in an emergency, either indoors or outdoors or both.
  6. Consider adding connections for rental equipment such as piping for water and electrical conduit.
  7. Conduct periodic drills for your contingency plan.

One ton portable cooling unit.

Building and facility owners who recognize the need for a cooling contingency plan, who put a plan in place and identify an outside vendor to supply emergency cooling have placed themselves in a favorable position when an emergency strikes and likely will save their buildings thousands of dollars in unnecessary downtimes and human discomfort.

For more information, please email Jonathon Goering by clicking here or call 316-265-9655.

Portable cooling information can be found on our website by clicking here.

Knipp works with commercial and industrial building owners to identify building solutions that can reduce downtime and increase the efficiency of their building. We provide services that enable building owners to have a high performance building.

Topics: cooling contingency planning, portable cooling, rental cooling

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