Buildings are, structurally speaking, made to last. 

But what happens when the insides of buildings falter? When the mechanical and electrical systems begin to decay? 

David Dovas, a mechanical engineer and senior project manager who works in commercial infrastructure renewal, has seen this first-hand. “The problems that buildings face as they age can vary depending on many factors, including the applied systems, maintenance, materials, construction, and usage of the facility,” he says. 

Infrastructure renewal 

When dealing with aging infrastructure, more and more building owners are choosing to revitalize older buildings rather than build new ones. 

“Typically, energy savings and sustainability are at the top of the list, but other major considerations include the maintenance requirements and the comfort and performance characteristics of the systems.”

In Toronto, where buildings are among the oldest in the country, this trend is especially notable. 

“Infrastructure renewal can address any type of problem,” says Dovas. “A properly thought-out plan that identifies a sound and systematic approach provides the most economical and efficient use of funding and resources.” 

The goals

“The main goal of any infrastructure renewal project is to address the needs, concerns and expectations of the stakeholders and end-users.” says Dovas. “Typically, energy savings and sustainability are at the top of the list, but other major considerations include the maintenance requirements and the comfort and performance characteristics of the systems.”

Measures such as lighting upgrades can significantly reduce the energy consumption of a building while increasing occupant productivity and efficiency. At the same time, upgrading HVAC and building controls help improve comfort, reduce energy consumption and minimize maintenance costs.

Other areas of work might include upgrading plumbing systems and providing power backup through generators.

First steps

According to Dovas, one of the first steps a building owner should take to have their building renewed is to open up channels of communication with stakeholders and experts. 

“The open dialogue with tenants, maintenance staff and end-users, [is an important step] to understand their needs, concerns and expectations,” Dovas says. “In most cases, it would be very beneficial for an owner to also include consulting architects and engineers as part of these discussions.”