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What is Building Decommissioning? What Are Some Best Practices?

In response to COVID-19, many companies have gone fully remote or hybrid, finding themselves with unused office space. If you’re a member of the facilities team at your company, a critical question to ask in this scenario is “What do we do with all of this unused space?” Whether the answer is holding onto the space or attempting to lease or sell the space, some level of building decommissioning should be considered. Determining the desired end state of your space will help establish your decommissioning plan. So, what exactly does it mean to decommission a building? According to Facility Executive, it can be defined as an orderly shutdown or removal of the building’s systems to prepare the building for long-term dormancy, also called “mothballing”.

Below we have outlined some best practices when decommissioning a space, whether your plan is to repurpose, recommission, or eventually remove the building from your real estate portfolio entirely.

Take the Office Offline

First, ensure all staff is cleared from the space and all amenities are relocated, as needed. Take conference rooms and reservable spaces offline. Limit access to the space through security badge access or signage. This step is critical to continue decommissioning a space.

Remove Reusable Items

There may be items in the space that can be reused in a different location. Furniture solutions and audio-visual systems are great examples. Technology tends to break, and furniture can become worn. Having these items on hand can minimize unforeseen expenses. Take the time to inventory these items and consider alternate locations or storage availability.

Consider Additional Savings

Be sure to engage the appropriate contacts for HVAC and electrical systems. These experts can share information on system settings to save energy and reduce operating costs. Lighting may be motion detected and HVAC systems can be adjusted. Cleaning services are another large expense that can be scaled back. Without occupants, the space will not need to be cleaned with the same frequency.

Address Security

Lastly, consider the security of the space or building. With decreased use, it may become a target for theft or vandalism. A few examples to mitigate this risk would be a security system or routine checks by a security team member.

It’s important to remember that your building may have not been shut down for this long before, so it is important to be vigilant. Our world is ever-changing with the evolution of the pandemic, but building decommissioning is a great opportunity to take advantage of the time to schedule maintenance, do a deep clean, and make any repairs to the space. These initial best practices for building decommissioning will set you up for success during the remainder of the decommissioning plan. The plan will differ depending on the desired end-state of the building, but these considerations remain consistent.

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