Today I visited a company in a lovely office building in West Hartford, CT. It was a first class, multi-story building around 100,000 square feet, no small property. After a few minutes, I was taking off my jacket and looking for a glass of water. No kidding, it was hot! When I mentioned it to the person I was meeting, she said it was an ongoing problem for them. She said she had asked the building manager to please not turn the heat on that morning because it always got so hot by noontime. The property manger said he had to turn it up because the tenant next door was so cold they needed the heat. Clearly, this building has a HVAC problem when the control for one tenant's heat is in another tenant's space. So, if you are a tenant in a building struggling to warm up or cool down, here is some information that may be helpful.
Today I visited a company in a lovely office building in West Hartford, CT. It was a first class, multi-story building around 100,000 square feet, no small property. After a few minutes, I was taking off my jacket and looking for a glass of water. No kidding, it was hot! When I mentioned it to the person I was meeting, she said it was an ongoing problem for them. She said she had asked the building manager to please not turn the heat on that morning because it always got so hot by noontime. The property manger said he had to turn it up because the tenant next door was so cold they needed the heat.
Clearly, this building has a HVAC problem when the control for one tenant's heat is in another tenant's space. So, if you are a tenant in a building struggling to warm up or cool down, here is some information that may be helpful.
- Put a thermometer in the hottest or coldest space so you can track the temperature and it’s fluctuation. Track it for a few days, ideally in sunny and cloudy weather, so you will have the ammunition you need for your next discussion. You may need more than one thermometer. You may also find out that it is not as bad as you think. Sometimes, an employee can be overly sensitive to either heat or cold, and you may just need to address the issue within your own space by providing a small fan or a small personal heater at a specific desk. Remember, Spring and Fall are usually the most difficult times as night time to day time and day-to-day temperatures fluctuate greatly and it is sometimes hard to keep up with the rapidly changing conditions.
- Your first line of defense if there is a problem is the property manager, if one exists. Ask the property manager to visit your space when the temperature problem is at it’s worst. Show him or her your temperature record and ask him if he can explain why there is a problem and what suggestions he has for curing it. Frequently, the property manager will be able to solve the problem simply by adjusting some of the delivery grates on the ductwork. It may be sun load, which can be mitigated by putting film on the windows, or a balancing problem. (Balancing an HVAC system means modifying the distribution of the warmed or cooled air so it delivers an appropriate amount of temperature controlled air to the correct space. Simply put, if all the cold air is dumping out of the ducts in one location, then that spot will be cold and the rest of the space will be hot.).Sometimes the thermostat is in an inappropriate place, like in line with an exterior door that opens and closes a lot, perhaps it can be moved to a more central location.
- Talk to the owner. If your discussion with the property manager goes nowhere, or if there is no property manager, then the owner is your next stop. Sometimes owners are not aware of the problem, after all, they don't generally live in the space, and you do, so if you don't tell them they may not know about it. So, have that conversation. You pay rent, and the health and productivity of your employees affects the bottom line in your business, you should not be shy about having a conversation about the problem. Reputable landlords don't want unhappy tenants if they can help it. It costs a lot to replace a good tenant, so a smart landlord will do the math and fix your temperature control problem if he can.
- Do what you can to control your own destiny. Sometimes you can do some things to control the temperature within your space. First and foremost, stop messing with the thermostat (or keep your employees from doing it) Set and forget it! Constantly adjusting it up and down does not help the situation as it takes a while for a change in the setting to distribute through the entire space so it is felt by the cold or hot employee. I have frequently seen someone crank up a thermostat to 85 Degrees when they are cold, operating on the false assumption that setting the temperature higher that the desirable 72 will make it warm up faster. Not true! it will hit the target 72 at the same time, however, it will then zoom past it requiring the thermostat to be reset lower setting up a yo-yo of hot and cold all day. Get an inexpensive locking cover for the thermostat and avoid the conflict. Window treatments can be opened or closed depending on sun load, heat generating office equipment and lights can be turned off when not in use, doors to private offices and conference rooms can be left open to keep the air circulating, and most importantly, dress for the environment. After all, a sweater is perhaps the most cost effective form of temperature control! And, if you pay for your own utilities, taking control of your HVAC can save you money too!
Sometimes HVAC problems are difficult and expensive to solve. If a system was designed to serve areas of 15,000 square feet and the landlord has divided the space into 1,000 square foot units, then balancing that system to deliver the appropriate temperature control to all spaces can be difficult or impossible. Before you lease space, you should understand how the space is heated and cooled and how you can control the temperature in your space. It is a lot easier to understand how an HVAC system works before you move in, than battle the issue for the entire term of your lease. Frequently tenants don't ask about HVAC control, only to regret not getting the information later. As I have mentioned in other articles, sometimes the best thing you can do before you move into a new space is ask the other tenants in the building how they like it. YOu can tell a lot about how a building is managed by talking with other tenants.
You can find other tips and strategies about how to find, lease and live in your business space on our site MySquareFeet, the premier on-line commercial real estate listing service. Find office, retail or industrial space for your business space on MySqaureFeet.com today. <!-- ckey="3DB7E7D3" -->