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A Changing Landscape for Utility Company Buildings

By Matt Elliott, AIA

June 1, 2022

Utility companies are facing some big decisions when it comes to their buildings, and it’s an issue that is becoming even more pressing as time progresses. Why? Back in the 50’s and 60’s, many utilities buildings were designed and built. These buildings were well-built and made to last for a long time. Now in 2022, the buildings are still standing strong, but the building systems are due for major upgrades. The big decision for utility companies is, do they renovate these original buildings, or do they build new? There are several elements that go into this outside of cost alone that make this decision a difficult one.

Building Layout/Workflow

Many of the original buildings were designed to be compartmentalized with sturdy interior block walls. With updated business models and new workflows, many companies today want their building layouts to encourage collaboration and communication between employees. These block walls are expensive to move or take down, so it can be costly to update those spaces.

Building Size

COVID-19 also threw a curveball into the future of workspaces, more specifically with the number of employees returning to work in-person. Employers are discovering that it isn’t necessary for all employees to return to the office, and they may not need the large spaces they had before. The problem is, they are still determining how many employees will be coming back in-person, which contributes to determining the size of the space needed. If a good portion of workers stay remote, utility companies may want to build new spaces that are smaller and will cost less to operate than larger, older spaces.

Sustainability

Another element to this decision is the consideration of sustainability. Utility companies are working to get away from coal-fired plants, and older buildings also tend to be less energy efficient. By building new, companies can achieve these goals much easier than if they renovate older buildings. They can also save money in the long run by having more energy efficient spaces.

Cost

A big portion of this decision comes down to cost. Bottom line, new buildings generally cost more to build upfront. However, if utility companies take into consideration a new building layout, less space needed for less in-person employees, and having a more energy efficient space, the costs of renovating start to add up. Factoring in a lower number of employees who are actually using the space, building owners will have the same overhead costs as before but will be utilizing the space less.

Although the situation varies depending on the building, we predict that many companies will choose to start building smaller, more efficient spaces to better fit their employees’ needs, create energy efficient spaces, and have a better workflow.

Interested in learning more about updating your industrial/workspace? Get in touch with Industrial Market Leader, Matt Elliott!

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