Earlier this month, we learned how even the most customer- and public-image-focused businesses – Disney – can be negatively impacted by something as pedestrian as their HVAC systems. In this case, Disneyland came under scrutiny after Orange County, California health officials said nine people who visited the theme park contracted Legionnaire’s disease. The outbreak was traced to a pair of cooling towers at the park, and resulted in a system shut-down until the equipment could be tested, treated and re-tested – at least a two week process.
Legionnaire’s disease is a form of pneumonia, caused by bacteria that can develop in water systems with the right blend of temperature and chemical make-up. Officials say the disease is often contracted by persons inhaling this contaminated water in mist form; in this case, mist created by the operation of open-cell cooling towers.
Although air quality and infection control is generally emphasized most in medical and laboratory environments, this story from California highlights the business risks of contaminated HVAC systems for other industries as well. For instance, in this theme-park example, there’s the obvious risk of directly endangering the health and safety of their customers and staff – but the risks go beyond that. For instance, what’s the potential impact to the all-important customer service experience of needing to completely shut-down multiple cooling towers, and what that does to the ability to keep critical systems on-line? Was there a resultant reduction (or loss) of cooling capacity at the park – which then caused certain rides or venues to be shut-down unexpectedly? And what is the long-term impact of customers being denied the experience of a lifetime, due to unexpected equipment shut-downs?
This unfortunate incident highlights the important role that HVAC systems play in modern buildings and campus environments. While we don’t know the details of this particular installation, this story is a great reminder for any facility operating cooling towers to review their current cleaning, treatment and maintenance procedures. Leading contractors and systems experts like Greenland Enterprises do more than design and install systems – they do so with an eye towards long-term efficiency, reliability and safety. This includes providing recommendations for system cleaning and maintenance, to help ensure customers experience trouble-free operation and prolonged system life.
Contact Greenland Enterprises to discuss your current building infrastructure systems, the systemic technical and business risks, along with possible risk-management options. It’s what we do!