Last week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced in a press release that July 2023 will be the world’s hottest month in history. As global temperatures continue to rise, extreme heat events are becoming more frequent and intense. While the immediate focus often centers on the health and well-being of individuals, the impact of extreme heat on commercial properties is an equally critical concern. From structural integrity to operational efficiency, extreme heat can cause a range of adverse effects on commercial buildings. In this blog post, we will explore the potential consequences of extreme heat on commercial properties and discuss measures property and facility management professionals can take to mitigate risks and adapt to the changing climate.
One of the primary effects of extreme heat on commercial properties is the strain it places on building materials. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause concrete, asphalt, roofing materials, and even metal components to expand and contract repeatedly. This thermal stress weakens the integrity of the building, leading to cracks, fractures, and, in severe cases, structural failure. Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial to identify and address such issues promptly.
During heatwaves, commercial properties often require increased cooling to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. This surge in energy demand can place a significant strain on HVAC systems, potentially leading to malfunctions or breakdowns. Consequently, energy costs skyrocket, impacting the bottom line of businesses. To minimize the impact, investing in energy-efficient HVAC systems and ensuring regular maintenance is essential.
Extreme heat can also affect indoor air quality, particularly in poorly ventilated commercial properties. Elevated temperatures can lead to the accumulation of pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and dust particles, causing health issues for employees and customers. Adequate ventilation and air filtration systems are vital to ensuring a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.
High temperatures, especially when combined with dry conditions, increase the risk of fire hazards and associated fire and smoke damage in commercial properties. Electrical equipment, machinery, and even flammable substances can become potential ignition sources. Proper fire prevention measures, such as installing fire sprinklers, maintaining fire alarms, and conducting regular fire drills, are essential to minimize the risk of property damage and ensure the safety of occupants.
Extreme heat can take a toll on the exterior aesthetics of commercial properties. Landscaping, including grass, shrubs, and trees, may suffer from heat stress and drought, leading to withering and potential loss of appeal. Implementing efficient irrigation systems and selecting heat-resistant plants can help maintain an attractive outdoor environment.
During prolonged heatwaves, businesses may face operational challenges due to the impact on employees and customers. Extreme heat can reduce productivity and cause discomfort for employees, leading to an increase in absenteeism and reduced efficiency. Likewise, customers may be deterred from visiting establishments with inadequate cooling systems. Flexibility in work hours and implementing heat-related policies can help businesses cope with extreme heat events.
In light of the growing risks associated with extreme heat, commercial property owners and businesses can take proactive steps to adapt and mitigate the effects:
Extreme heat poses significant risks to commercial properties. By recognizing the potential effects and implementing adaptation and mitigation strategies, property and facility managers can safeguard their investments, protect occupants, and ensure long-term sustainability in the face of a changing climate. Embracing sustainable practices and prioritizing climate resilience will be crucial for navigating the challenges of extreme heat in the years to come.
A trusted restoration partner can help with both response to and reconstruction of any damage caused at your commercial property as a result of extreme heat, but did you know that the right partner can also assist with pre-loss planning efforts and implementation of various mitigation strategies, as well? For more information on how the URI team of commercial property restoration specialists can assist, contact us here or call our 24/7 Emergency Response Hotline: 888.327.9664. We’re On It!