Planned maintenance is good for your health

Kevin Kingaby, Building Engineering Services Association, BESA, indoor air quality, IAQ, ventilation, filtration, SFG20, maintenance, Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management, JHEEM, Health Technical Memoranda, Competence Assessment Scheme, CAS
Kevin Kingaby

Protecting the health of building occupants isn’t rocket science, but it does need planning and competent people, says Kevin Kingaby of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

During October’s BESA National Conference, the deputy mayor of London issued a plea for our industry to help the capital tackle poor air quality in buildings.

Shirley Rodrigues, who is in charge of the city’s environmental strategy, admitted that indoor air quality (IAQ) was a “relatively new area for us to understand” and urged BESA members to help her team to get to grips with measures for protecting vulnerable building users – particularly school children.

Data from the Mayor’s office shows that every borough in London exceeds World Health Organisation limits for PM2.5 – the toxic air particles linked to lung damage and elevated risks of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer.

Ms Rodrigues told the BESA conference that PM2.5 was responsible for 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year and children exposed to levels above the WHO limit were likely to grow up with reduced lung function and high risk of developing asthma. She is particularly concerned about the location of 400 schools in and around the capital.


The Mayor has pledged to spend £875m over the next five years on cleaning up London’s polluted air, but Rodrigues supported BESA’s call for more focus to be put on maintaining buildings as ‘safe havens’ from rising outdoor toxins while the Mayor’s wider (and expected to be lengthy) war on pollution goes on.

Safe havens can be created quickly and relatively cheaply because it is often simply a case of improving the way existing ventilation and filtration equipment is maintained.

“People spend a lot of money putting ventilation systems into buildings and then just leave them to deteriorate,” says George Friend of ventilation hygiene specialists VSS. “We have MOTs for cars – why not for buildings?”

He believes we should have a mandatory IAQ test for buildings – with any landlord who fails having to reduce their rent. “That’s the way to turn buildings into safe havens,” he adds.

Vehicle emissions, power generation and tobacco smoke all contribute to air pollution and, unless a building’s ventilation system is maintained and cleaned regularly, external pollutants find their way inside and contaminants from indoor sources are not diluted or removed.

Buildings could be safe havens with high standards of indoor environmental conditions to keep occupants healthy as well as comfortable.

There is now a wealth of medical evidence showing that this has a direct impact on occupant health, wellbeing and productivity. Individual occupants and facilities managers are also developing a greater understanding of how the indoor environment affects their quality of life.

They now have the ability to measure temperature, air quality, humidity and other comfort factors using low cost portable and wearable technologies. This makes it even more of a priority for those responsible for building environments to look strategically at their maintenance requirements and have the ability to plan accordingly.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that BESA’s SFG20 maintenance standard is proving increasingly popular. As well as featuring over 500 core maintenance schedules, covering more than 60 equipment types, this software tool also gives users the opportunity to customise maintenance schedules, including service times, frequency and criticality ratings.

It allows a facilities manager to produce schedules covering all the main types of equipment found in buildings and is constantly updated with changes to technical standards and legislation to ensure the building remains compliant. Schedules display how often a task should be carried out and what skill sets are needed to maintain an asset.

SFG20 is also aligned with rapidly emerging digital working methods, including Building Information Modelling (BIM), and is constantly updated to capture evolving service and maintenance techniques.

It has been adopted by government departments, including the prison service, and other public sector organisations, including the NHS, to provide customised maintenance programmes. It is also used by major end users like Ikea, John Lewis and Network Rail, as well as several universities and large construction companies who provide maintenance services to their clients.


Schedules display how often tasks need to be carried out to avoid over or under maintaining assets and what skill set should be used to perform the work. This enables building owners to achieve cost savings of up to 20% by properly planning their maintenance tasks - and, in fact, one government department confirmed it made cost savings of 28% on its very large maintenance costs as a result of using SFG20.

Many building owners are, therefore, improving the quality of their indoor environments while simultaneously lowering their operating costs thanks to the availability of a strategic planned maintenance tool.

Maintenance schedules and tasks can be created within SFG20 to ensure that vital tasks like cleaning or replacing air filters and the regular inspection and cleaning of ventilation ductwork are carried at the right intervals. It also has schedules specifically developed for different types of building.


For example, working with the Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management (IHEEM), led to the creation of a set of maintenance task schedules for the healthcare sector drawn directly from the Health Technical Memoranda (HTMs) that underpin the design of all healthcare facilities.

There are over 100 healthcare schedules covering specific tasks like decontamination; medical gases; ventilation; lifts; water; fire and electrical built on the SFG20 core schedules and the requirements of the HTMs. They combine current statutory requirements, industry guidance and best practice; and are specifically designed for hospitals, NHS Trusts, dentists, vets and doctors’ surgeries.

Linking tenancy agreements to IAQ could be the way forward to ensure good maintenance of systems for tenants.

The first ever independently verified standard for the planned maintenance of catering equipment has also been developed in collaboration with the Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association (CESA). This has led to an industry recognised set of maintenance schedules designed to help catering managers prolong the operating life of their equipment, reduce running costs and achieve compliance with relevant legislation.

The 105 new schedules added to SFG20, as a result, cover all aspects of catering equipment maintenance with clear guidelines on levels of work to be carried out, intervals between servicing and operative time required. They encompass everything from coffee machines to cold rooms and storage, from fryers to griddle pans, and ovens, hobs and ranges. They also take account of services like ductwork and grease extract cleaning filter cleaning and replacement, and water treatment.

The growing use of Building Information Management (BIM) also prompted a collaboration with Northumbria University leading to xBIM, which enables building design information from Industry Foundation Classes (IFC files) to be imported directly from BIM models into SFG20. This means that ongoing maintenance costs can be based on the SFG20 standard from the point that initial CAD drawings are constructed, rather than later in the process or after project handover.

Once the information has been imported it will map the building’s assets and assets types, creating a 3D model so the facilities manager can have a ‘physical’ view of all the building’s maintenance needs.


Having the tools is one thing, but estates managers also need to be able to rely on the expertise of the contractors they employ to deliver high performance buildings. Yet few private or public sector clients use a standard method of establishing a contractor’s expertise.

That is why BESA believes its Competence Assessment Scheme (CAS), which provides evidence of a company’s professional credentials as a condition of membership is so valuable. It provides clients with a ready-made method for establishing the quality of a potential sub-contractor and vital peace of mind that the firms they employ have third party independent evidence to verify their competence.

The Association is also responding to demand for more of the kind of guidance requested by deputy mayor Shirley Rodrigues by launching a public sector forum for London and South East. The first meeting will take place on February 22nd and will look at the considerable maintenance challenges posed by the European F Gas Regulations as the industry transitions to low global warming refrigerant gases.

Growing awareness of the role building services maintenance plays in safeguarding health and productivity is changing the outlook of built asset managers. Often the first budget to be cut when finances were tight, there is now a realisation that planned strategic maintenance carried out by competent contractors can significantly reduce running costs by improving performance and extending the operating life of equipment.

Kevin Kingaby is key accounts manager at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).To find out more about the Public Sector Forum, email

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