Buildings are unoccupied during the majority of the year, likely between 5000-6200 out of 8760 hours. That equates to more than half of the year. How do buildings perform during this time? “Night walks” are the key to finding out. Night walks are walks that are done with a team of building engineers, checking for building systems that aren’t operating properly. These are very important for the building; frequently the found problems are easily addressed. This gives the opportunity for immediate energy efficiency and building performance improvements.
Night walks are done primarily by the on-site building engineer or another member of the engineering or property management team. The walks should not be solely by one person, as there are safety concerns associated with the walks.
The walk should begin when the building is in ‘unoccupied mode’. Many engineers recommend walks on a monthly basis. At the minimum, walks should be conducted at least each quarter, with at least an hour dedicated to each walk. The time is highly dependent upon the size of the building; in large buildings, it is about 15 minutes per floor.
Important spaces to walk through and check are mechanical rooms, areas near the top of the building, top of the roof and stairwells, main lobby and elevator lobbies, and a typical tenant space in each HVAC zone.
Feel for air movement, hot/cold temperatures, humidity, static shock, acoustic/physical vibrations, and hot electrical systems.
Look for brightly lit areas, extremely dark areas, visible condensation, accumulations of dust on surfaces, blocked air diffusers, and water spots or standing water.
Listen for airflow, rattling, humming, high-pitched radio static, running or dripping water.
Smell for food, trash, or chemical odors, moldy odors, and overheated mechanical/electrical systems.
For additional information and specifics on what to look for, information can be found at the Better Bricks website. The website also has four short videos, a brief, and a system diagnostic tool kit to provide the probable cause for the problems found.