Green buildings deserve a reserve fund too…?

With a bit of free time on my hands during the Christmas holidays, I get to explore a new topic in green building that is close to my present sphere of knowledge.

Reserve fund was one of the first things I refreshed coming back to engineering and in my interaction of various condo boards and board members, it seems like this is something both a boon and a bane. Before I go any further, I think it’s probably a good idea to go through the concept so everyone re-familiarize themselves with it. A reserve fund study, or RFS, is a way to forecast needed funds for the future by studying the building construction and the condition of various building components. By doing this, the client can be assured that when components fail, there is sufficient funds for construction projects.

As an aside, this is how it is supposed to work but it never ever works like that. This doesn’t consider all the human factors in the Board and the Contractors, so a reserve fund study should never be taken like an edict but rather as a guide in the general direction.

With new LEED buildings, words like efficiency and optimal condition are like words out of the Bible. A LEED building must maintain efficiency of its M&E systems, as well as keeping a close eye on the progress of deterioration of its building envelopes. Before writing this article, I completed a series of literature review and I was not able to readily find this information but I imagine RF departments all over Canada are starting to get calls about this. I know many other in the industry will just say I am paranoid or call me a tree hugger but I believe there are opportunities there to create a strong business relationship by educating clients on the importance of preventative maintenance and the risk posted by delayed evaluation of M&E systems and building envelopes. An excellent curtain wall example that I came across recently involves pressure plate/dry gasket failure that allowed water to enter the building envelope. I will admit that this did not cause a significant amount of damage internally but I am curious to know the effect this has on the building air changes per hour (ACH), associated indoor air quality (IAQ) and other energy efficiency parameters. There is a clear difference between something that has fallen out of optimal performance and something that has reached the end of its service life.

At the end of the day, I believe there is a need for our RF industry to acknowledge the emergence of this issue – green buildings (LEED or not) represent a significant time investment to document and predict when components will no longer function optimally as part of a green building, and when components will no longer function. Period.

As always, I would love to hear any of your comments on this and previous articles.

Have a safe and happy holidays, everyone.

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About eatonkwan

Engineer by profession, interests lie in environmental development, LEED and sustainable development.
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