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Protecting your Lab Facilities from Climate Change

A landmark report on climate change out Monday indicates that global warming is careening toward dangerous new levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produces a comprehensive overview of climate science once every six to eight years.

This third installment of the sixth climate change report predicts that some major cities will soon be underwater unless immediate action is taken. It also forecasts unprecedented heatwaves, storms, and flooding.

In a future where buildings are subject to increasingly extreme weather events, it pays to be prepared. Pre-planning can reduce potential damage to your facility and limit recovery time and monetary impact.

Here are some tips from the article “Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change” – first published by Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) in 2019.

Flooding

Many areas of the country can expect more frequent flooding, with at- and below-grade building space, facing the risk of more frequent inundation. Small things, such as installing and checking backflow valves in sewer lines to prevent sewage and stormwater from backing up into drains, do not cost much but can prevent costly clean-up. Buildings can be "wet flood-proofed," meaning space is designed to tolerate short-term submersion. This includes raising critical infrastructure, such as electrical and mechanical systems above predicted future water levels, using materials that can withstand getting wet, and ensuring that anything humans will need to interact with directly will remain above the future expected water level.

Drought and Fire

For many regions, ironically, climate change will bring both heavier precipitation and periods of more intense drought, leading to an increased risk of destructive fires. Building owners can ensure that exterior materials are as fire-resistant as possible: using high-moisture plants, non-flammable materials for exterior furnishings, and tempered glass windows near ground level. Properties should have a vigilant vegetation management plan that includes regularly removing dead leaves and plants and keeping vegetation away from structures.

Extreme Temperatures

Whether your region will experience hotter temperatures or more radical temperature swings, your heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems will be working harder, and energy costs will be impacted. Smart building owners and managers can get ahead of these costs by performing energy and envelope performance audits and addressing air leakage issues; assuming a higher cooling load when designing HVAC systems and investing in high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Insulation, high-efficiency windows, and window shading solutions can further increase the envelope performance and can be considered, particularly when looking at building renovation projects where some or all of these components are being updated anyway.

The climate crisis has created new challenges and has put added pressure on facilities to evolve quickly.

Throughout Flagship Facility Services, our parent company, and DENS Facility Services, we are trained and ready to weather-proof your facility, but we play an active role in the climate change solution.

Most recently, Flagship Facility Services achieved the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) Green Building with Honors certification from ISSA, demonstrating our organizational commitment to sustainability and green cleaning.

Read Flagship's advice for creating a successful sustainability program here.


This piece was originally published on Flagship Facility Services' Inside Facility Management Blog. Flagship is a leading facilities management company serving more than 1,800 clients across the country.

Together, DENS and Flagship provide a broad range of laboratory support services to Life Sciences clients in Boston and beyond.

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