Top 12 Strategies to Maximize Cost Savings

Innovative expense-slashing solutions drive operational efficiency


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7) Develop Innovative Repair Techniques
Salt Lake City’s top corporate location, Millrock Park, used to need new filters on its four air handlers four times a year because the fresh air shaft on each building constantly collected dirt, leaves, and cottonwood seeds. Then the chain link safety fences surrounding the units sparked an innovative idea. The facilities staff attached 1-inch-thick rolled filter media to the fence to act as a pre-filter.

Costing roughly $100 per roll, the filter media supplies enough material for three years and catches about 90% of the debris, says facilities manager Ken Hales. This simple solution saves about $800 per year for each of the office park’s four buildings and eliminates the extra time needed to change the air filters every three months. Like Millrock Park, Hines engineers also came up with an affordable solution to an ongoing air handler problem – irritating noise from the air handlers’ 10HP pad-mounted motors whenever bearings and motor end bell brackets failed.

“Instead of replacing the motors due to bad bearings and worn brackets, we just replace the brackets and bearings,” explains senior engineer Abel Vasquez. “This costs about $150 instead of $1,700 and can be applied to any motor.”

8) Don’t Neglect Routine Upkeep
“One of the biggest things to remember for mechanical systems is preventive maintenance,” Christens says. “If we don’t do a good job on that, we can install all the controls in the world on our equipment and it still won’t perform the way it should.”

Low staffing levels can make it difficult to keep up with this goal, Christens says, but a regular schedule of tune-ups and coil cleaning will go a long way toward maximizing equipment efficiency and life.

9) Double-Check Safety Practices
Thorough testing of safety equipment can sometimes yield savings in surprising ways. Ron Davis, project manager for Crockett Facilities Services, closely followed the manufacturer’s instructions on how to test a new carbon monoxide detection system installed in the office building he manages. Sure enough, the exhaust fan started after it detected the simulated high CO content.

However, Davis decided to go a step further to ensure the tenants’ safety. He wanted to test the system again with a CO kit, but one wasn’t available, so he used a shop-vac hose to blow continuous exhaust over the sensor. After about 15 minutes of nonstop exhaust, the fan hadn’t started. The detector was fitted with new sensors that had higher output voltages and the alarm activated after only three minutes of vehicle exhaust.

Case Study #4

Preventive Maintenance
Bassett Healthcare Network

Objective: To develop a proactive approach to replacing stained, damaged, or wet ceiling tiles instead of reacting to calls or work orders, thus using maintenance technicians more efficiently.

Solution: Every Tuesday, one maintenance technician (selected on a rotating basis) walks the entire hospital to inspect ceiling tiles and replace them as needed. The type of tile damage indicates other necessary repairs, such as leaks from domestic waterlines that result in wet tiles.

Savings: Catching serious leaks, such as those from domestic hot water and the roof, may have prevented the development of catastrophic leaks that could cost thousands of dollars to fix. The only cost to implement the program was for the “OSHA yellow” Tile Tuesday T-shirts the team had printed, and the familiar yellow shirts engendered immeasurable goodwill among other departments, says Tom Smyth, director of facilities services. “One day I walked into the monthly leadership meeting and everyone in the meeting had some form of OSHA yellow on them to celebrate Tile Tuesday,” Smyth recalls.


At $3,000, the old system represented a large investment for equipment that didn’t work. However, the more responsive system eliminates legal risks from CO poisoning in the garage and leaks into the office building stemming from the dysfunctional sensor.

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