The Steep Cost Of Unplanned Downtime

The Steep Cost Of Unplanned Downtime


The direct financial cost of equipment or whole-building downtime is not difficult for most organizations to determine. You probably have a workable estimate of the profits you would have made during the minutes, hours or days your building wasn’t functioning correctly. Then add in the cost of getting everything up and running again.

These costs can grow sky-high very quickly. For example, the average data center outage costs $740,357 as of 2016, according to a Ponemon Institute study. The average per minute cost of these outages totaled $8,851.

The direct impact to your revenue pales in comparison to the damage your reputation could suffer. Reputational damage can continue hurting your business for years through lost tenants and potential future earnings.


The damage your organization will suffer from unplanned downtime depends on which building systems are affected, but even the failure of a single system is costly enough to impact your revenue.

Take the elevator, for example. It’s not an emergency if your elevators are out of order for a few days, yet they are important to your operation. The tenants in your office building won’t be happy if their employees have to rush up a dozen floors to go to work, and they may miss important meetings and appointments in the time it takes to get there. Hotel guests will be upset if they have to lug their suitcases up several flights of stairs.

In this example, it is easy to see how the damage to your reputation from a momentary hassle could lead to future loss of profits. The office tenants may decide to relocate when their lease ends, especially if an elevator breakdown has happened more than once. The hotel’s owners may have to discount or compensate rooms to appease upset guests, cutting into their profits and lessening the likelihood that those guests will return.

The increasingly interconnected nature of today’s buildings also increases the risk of collateral damage, so the failure of one building system can negatively impact how the others function. That increases the risk of loss in both the short and long term.

Investing in reliable equipment isn’t just about upfront costs and the total costs of ownership. It is also about doing right by the people in your building. Here is how you can safeguard your reputation by taking care of the people who depend on you for a comfortable, healthy and functional building


Smart facilities managers know that continued uptime is the key to avoiding losses. How is that possible? By making strategic, targeted investments in the equipment that will help you do your job and keep people in your building happy.

Concentrate your efforts in these three key areas.

1. Uninterruptible power supplies. UPS units are one place where choosing a better product up front can pay massive dividends down the road. Ask UPS manufacturers about availability ratings, and then count the nines. A 99.999% rating means the unit might have up to five and a half minutes of downtime a year, whereas one more nine – a 99.9999% rating – takes that number down to just 32 seconds. That number may not mean much when it’s applied to an elevator or HVAC system in an office building, but a data center that relies on UPS units for maximum uptime could lose tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and corrupted data in the five minute difference between the two ratings.

2. Vertical transportation. The elevator is often the next thing after the lobby that people will see after they enter your building, so view it as a way to continue a good first impression. A smooth, reliable ride that doesn’t leave people waiting helps keep tenants from leaving. Conversely, an aging elevator that breaks down several times a year will drive tenants away. Compare the cost of upgraded controls, new dispatching and preventive maintenance against the potential loss of occupancy and rentable income. Viewed in that light, upgrades are often worth it.

3. HVAC. A consistently uncomfortable building will quickly drive people out. Opt for an efficient, easy-to control HVAC system, such as a variable refrigerant flow model that can heat some spaces and cool others simultaneously. Effortless control like this keeps more people happy more of the time, which means your building remains competitive. Choose a large enough capacity that the HVAC system can function at peak efficiency most of the time. A unit that is too small will have to work hard to keep up, leading to system downtime.

To make sure these three areas maintain high reliability and availability, consider the following solutions:

IGBT modules: This sophisticated electrical device determines the switching speed in converting electricity that goes downstream to your equipment. The extremely reliable module is used in everything from building equipment to heavy rail because of its high capacity, low losses and lightning-fast switching speed. Look for equipment that uses the latest generation IGBTs, as the newest devices tend to have longer lifetimes and more reliable operation than older generations.

The quality of system components: The manufacturer should use the highest-quality components and adhere to industry-leading standards for manufacturing quality. Building equipment is only as good as the sum of its parts, so using the best components and manufacturing standards will ensure you are getting equipment that can handle your building’s demands.

A strong maintenance program: All building equipment needs regular preventive maintenance. Look for a scheduled maintenance program that will replace parts before they wear out, which will help you avoid downtime from component failure. Know how long components typically last and compare that to the timeline set by the manufacturer. Elevators and escalators, for example, typically need to be replaced or modernized after an average 20-25 years. Products designed to last for more than 30 years without breaking down can save you money and protect your reputation for years longer than the average.

Stopping damaging downtime before it starts is a challenge. With the right equipment and infrastructure, you can provide solutions so your occupants can continue on their day.

Learn more about how you can prevent downtime at