Prolonged Building Shutdown Considerations

Buildings are complex and technical environments that require careful and considered management to ensure they operate correctly, efficiently and safely.

A building can be left unattended and unoccupied for short periods. If left unattended or unoccupied for extended periods, usually longer than 7 days, then the operation of certain building systems should be considered and reviewed to ensure they are available and safe to use when the building is reopened.

This document looks at unplanned building shutdown events including but not limited to:

  • Terrorist activities in or surrounding the site;
  • Enforced quarantine;
  • Loss of transport infrastructure;
  • Environmental events i.e. flood etc;
  • Chemical contamination i.e. asbestos.

As buildings and properties can be vastly different it is recommended that local site teams and FMs consult with their Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEP) Maintenance Contractor and MEP Consultant (where appointed) for the property. Your planning should factor in advice and consent from clients’ lawyers and insurers which will be required regarding contractual implications of building closures. Insurers advice is also required regarding continuity of cover and insurer’s requirements during closure.

Client Liaison and MAPP Comms for unplanned closures
These types of unplanned events are generally instigated by Government, emergency services or local authorities. They can of course be client-led where a client wishes to close a building or part of a building for a prolonged period. 

Depending on the type of incident, key building personnel may be granted rights to continue to access the building. It is recommended that Building and Centre management teams liaise with local authorities to understand local arrangements. Be aware that demand for services may increase and delays may ensue for these services.

Advice and consent from clients’ lawyers and insurers will be required regarding contractual implications of building closures. Insurers advice is also required regarding continuity of cover and insurer’s requirements during closure so when working through your plans liaise with your Client Director to finalise.

It is essential that a record of the advice you receive from all parties is kept along with decisions made by MAPP and the Client on what action was agreed to be taken.

Liaise with clients to ensure appropriate PR statements are prepared and that you understand the escalation/approval processes they require.

Items to consider for an unplanned building shut down
The below is not an exhaustive list but is designed to provoke thought on site specific planning requirements, further to the planning you will currently have in place for contingencies around resources, staffing levels and availability, and supplier capacity and resilience, for example lift inspections/cooling tower cleaning etc.

Below outlines a number of aspects that your Shutdown Plan should consider.  The list is not exhaustive, and it is expected that this plan will be drafted with input from your MEP contractor, MEP consultant, MAPP’s FM, H&S specialists and other key personnel you may consider necessary.

Items to consider for a building shut down and work through local plans with you supplier and consultants

 

Issue: Isolated Areas

Considerations before lockdown
Can key operational functions such as CCTV/Security/Management suite be run off site?

Considerations before Re-occupation
A full and thorough clean as per the PHE guidance would be needed.

 

Issue: Emergency Services & Regulatory Authorities

Considerations before lockdown
Consider advising the Police, Fire Brigade, Council, Environmental Health and other key stakeholders.

Considerations before Re-occupation
Consider advising the Police, Fire Brigade, Council, Environmental Health and other key stakeholders.

 

Issue: Security

Considerations before lockdown
The perimeter and interior of the buildings should be physically locked down, consider if intruder alarms can be remotely monitored and how they would be attended to?

Are extra physical locks, boarding up of vulnerable entry points needed?  In the event of prolonged periods, consider the implications of civil unrest.

Are extra patrols required?  Can other duties be reduced?

Undertake regular stock reviews in case of site burglary and theft.

Can you put in place remote monitoring services for your site?

Remember the insurers requirements need to be factored in. Insurer requirements can change, so ensure you monitor them closely and don’t rely on generic assumptions.

Clarify keyholding and emergency access requirements with security and MAPP Help Desk.

Considerations before Re-occupation
Review the potential for a deep clean.

 

Issue: MEP

Considerations before lockdown
Gas services, commercial and domestic if possible should be isolated (may need to be kept operational to heat building fabric).

Considerations before Re-occupation
Arrange for the MEP contractor to safely switch back on.

Considerations before lockdown
Air circulation systems should be shut down with external vents closed

Considerations before Re-occupation
Arrange for the MEP contractor to safety switch back on.

Considerations before lockdown
Cooling towers & Water features may need to be shut down and advice from your Water Consultant on how it can be safely done to avoid system damage.

Considerations before Re-occupation
Competent advice and oversight needed from a Water consultant prior to re-activation to ensure the system has been cleansed.

Considerations before lockdown
Closed water systems should if possible be automatically circulated. 

Considerations before Re-occupation
Competent advice and oversight needed from a Water consultant prior to re-activation.

Considerations before lockdown
Domestic water systems if possible mains water isolated and system drained.

Considerations before Re-occupation
Water systems may need chlorination and or flushing, consider bottled water provision.

Drainage traps dry and need flushing (including plant rooms, lift shafts etc…)

Considerations before lockdown
If possible BMS set to ensure fabric protection is operational (seasonal requirement).

Considerations before Re-occupation
Arrange for the MEP contractor to safety switch back on.

Considerations before lockdown
Critical spares have been securely stored.

Review of the service that may need to be paused or reduced?

Can you put in place remote monitoring services for key systems such as your site BMS and lifts?

 

Issue: Life safety systems

Considerations before lockdown
Generally left operational, however may require remote monitoring, advice required from building insurance providers especially in regards to sprinkler systems.

Emergency generators, can monthly tests be conducted remotely? Do  fuel stocks have agitator pumps or fuel polishers, can these be left operational?

Generator in place for life safety so should be considered in line with life safety systems.

Considerations before Re-occupation
Arrange for the MEP contractor to safely switch back on and record the necessary life safety checks to.satisfy the insurers requirements i.e. Alarm test, cause and effects, alarm dial out system.

Generator fuel may need quality testing if left standing for long periods.

 

Issue: Equipment needing a statutory inspection

Considerations before lockdown

Check on your RiskWise Inspection list what assets may need to have a statutory inspection undertaken. Lifts, Escalators, Lifting equipment such as cradles, Pressure vessels etc….These may need to be isolated or remain isolated until the inspection is completed. Check with your Lift or MEP consultant.

Considerations before Re-occupation

Arrange for the competent contractor to safely switch back on and record the necessary safety checks and to satisfy the insurers requirements if inspection dates have over run.

 

Issue: Cleaning/Environmental Health

Considerations before lockdown
Before leaving buildings any catering or Food beverage areas are cleaned and stored food removed to designated bin store to minimise vermin attraction.

Arrange a bespoke bin collection to remove this and sanitary waste (same for tenants).

Considerations before Re-occupation
Pest control additional visits may be required.

Drainage traps dry and need flushing (including plant rooms, lift shafts etc).

 

Issue: Tenant Considerations

Considerations before lockdown
Tenants may have to shutdown equipment or isolate utilities.  Advice must be taken from their insurers and the landlord insurers.

Tenants to be questioned on hazardous stock levels that may need to be removed off site.

Agree with tenants the position for high value individual items which should ideally be removed before a potential lockdown.

Some tenants who may wish to stagger their occupancy times, can their access be managed?

Considerations before Re-occupation
Do you have the staffing levels to manage a full re-occupation?

Would you need to phase this?

For sites that have had stocks stolen or the property damaged, do you need to arrange Landlord insurers and loss adjusters visits first before any claims arise?

Considerations before lockdown
Identify tenants that may be required by the authorities to remain accessible i.e. critical health providers.

Considerations before Re-occupation
How would you manage their safe use?

Considerations before lockdown
Tenant Comms rooms, will the AC systems be allowed to continue to run?

This may be a Landlord systems or tenant localised system. Clarify permissions from Landlord and Occupier Insurers.

Considerations before lockdown
Can post be held for occupiers in a secure location? Occupiers will be responsible for collecting post when one of their representatives returns to the building. 

Considerations before Re-occupation
Consider with your Surveyor and take client guidance where required on your strategy and comms process for arranging the  re-opening of the site.

Considerations before lockdown
Can personal deliveries be paused?

Consider with your Surveyor and take client guidance where required on your strategy and comms process that will keep tenants abreast of the status of the site and the process for re-opening.

Your usual contact information may change and could be the tenants personal contact information. Follow the MAPP GDPR guidelines when in possession and managing this data. Once this contact information is not needed in the future, it should be removed and replaced back with their normal work contact.

Ensure MAPP’s Help Desk has latest details for escalation and out of hours contacts, particularly in event of occupier and supplier contacts changing frequently.

Clarify keyholding responsibilities for occupiers in event of emergency access being required.