Research Methods in Engineering



Strategic Maintenance System in Buildings


The topic on building maintenance systems has over the years attracted a lot of attention in building construction research. In terms of building sustainability, maintaining of building facilities has been another major topic of research in many parts of the world (Horman, M.J., Riley, D.R., Lapinski, A., Korkmaz, S., Pulaski, M.H., Magent, C., Luo, Y., Harding, N. and Dahl, P., 2006, 123). Maintenance can be explained as the activities carried out in restoring a building facility to a standard that is acceptable. The purpose of maintenance systems in buildings is to repair and maintain a building’s electrical and mechanical systems such as ventilation, control and electrical systems, heating, cabling, lighting and control systems. Strategic maintenance involves condition, preventive or corrective-based maintenance (Chan, E., 2014, 19). In general, a building lifecycle mostly involves demolition, construction, removal, operational and maintenance. For commercial buildings, the lifespan before demolition is usually 100 years. In all this period, maintenance is required at one point for sustainability purposes (Bullen, P., 2007, 20). Despite these facts, building maintenance for sustainability purposes has been studied and researched on by very few engineers and researchers in Australia. The main aim of this project plan is to develop a strategic maintenance system in buildings since in managing buildings, developing strategic maintenance systems should be the core focus of engineers in ensuring sustainability. Before developing a strategic maintenance system, one must consider the Building maintenance policy which can be explained as a written document providing the maintenance personnel with a management framework for deciding on the suitable maintenance standards and strategy (Lee, H.H.Y. and Scott, D., 2009, 269).

Current maintenance systems in buildings

Currently, maintenance systems in buildings both commercial and residential are technology based. This is because technology helps in improving and speeding up the maintenance operation and construction process. In maintaining buildings, technology plays a crucial role in helping to detect defects in buildings using technology applications such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) which is employed for the improvement of the maintenance of building’s operation process and infrared scanning which identifies de-bonding external tiles for walls (Coetzee, J., 1999, 276). The increasing advances in technology facilitates efficient and effective maintenance of building facilities. The existing maintenance systems in buildings include ventilation, control and electrical systems, heating, cabling and lighting systems.

As more and more buildings are being constructed, the need for an efficient way of maintaining buildings at low costs is in high demand. This demand led to the introduction of a CAFM (Computer Assisted Facilities Management) platform for reactive and effectively planned building maintenance that enables maintenance tasks scheduling and management leading to efficiency in service delivery and reporting. Technology is helping in caring of buildings intelligently. The building maintenance personnel have been educated for the purposes of adapting to the various approaches that come with the continued development in technology so that they can respond to the business environment. More investments are being made by individuals and organizations in advanced technology for building maintenance reliability and maintenance purposes (Madu, C.N., 2000, 937). However, investing in technology for maintenance purposes is expensive and contradicts the goal of trying to reduce maintenance cost. Another disadvantage of technology in building maintenance is that it leads to overreliance on technology by the maintenance personnel and this may lead to negligence and overlooking of the relationship between users of buildings and the buildings (sustainability issues).

Research objectives

The strategic maintenance system will offer a structure in which building maintenance management will be carried out and optimization of the life cycle of buildings. This will be achieved in accordance with the existing building policies, regulations and standards and the business needs of the building owners. The main objectives of this research plan are:

  1. Reviewing and studying the costs and advantages of upgrading existing buildings sustainably before formulating a strategy for building maintenance.

  2. Raising building standards, providing energy-efficient and sustainable buildings, maximizing money value, giving design solutions that are innovative, managing existing buildings effectively and efficiently and increasing the usage of buildings.

  3. Reviewing the various existing theories based on the significance of building maintenance strategies, effects of sustainable renovation and gathering data from practitioners and shareholders in the building industry.

  4. Employing intelligent automatic maintenance scheduler and equipments to improve maintenance efficiency and quality.

  5. Formulating a strategic maintenance system in buildings.

  6. Formulating maintenance policies through choosing a maintenance strategy, allocating resources for maintenance and defining the maintenance standards.

Research Methodology

The research plan is not only concerned with formulating a strategic maintenance system in buildings, but it is also concerned with: exploring the existing theories and works, the understanding and perceptions regarding sustainable maintenance of existing buildings and gathering of views from various parties in the building industry (such as building engineers and architects) in order to validate the existing works and theories and establish their viewpoints on the formulation of a strategic maintenance system in buildings (Horner, R.M.W., El-Haram, M.A. and Munns, A.K., 1997, 273). In order to achieve all these, the research methodology to be adopted in this project plan is qualitative and quantitative research methods. In order to fulfill this, the data capture and research design will be structured in a way that will achieve both results. A questionnaire survey will be developed based on the review of existing literature, this is because selecting a survey to obtain results is an effective way of gathering feedback since it is a tool used in researching topic in social sciences.

The questionnaires will include open ended and scaled questions (such as: asking the participants to identify benefits of sustainable maintenance, after which the participants will be requested to rank the benefits they have identified and how sustainable maintenance can be made beneficial so that the data obtained can be ranked from the various participant’s comments. This will provide analyzed data with different characteristics (Burton, S. and Steane, P. eds, 2004, 156). The participants to be used in the study include: project managers, architects, shareholders, building owners, consultants, developers and other professional with knowledge on the building industry especially sustainability. The questionnaires will be distributed to a total of 10 of the above mentioned individuals and professionals. The diversity in participant selection will ensure that the data gathered demonstrates different skill sets and views in regard to building maintenance. The quantitative and qualitative results obtained will then be used in arriving at a decision on whether the proposed strategic maintenance system in buildings is possible or not. The data will also help in identifying the existing problems in building maintenance and provide ways of dealing with the problems.


Bullen, P.A., 2007. Adaptive reuse and sustainability of commercial buildings. Facilities, 25(1/2), pp.20-31.

Burton, S. and Steane, P. eds., 2004. Surviving your thesis. Routledge.

Chan, E., 2014. Building Maintenance Strategy: A Sustainable Refurbishment Perspective. Universal Journal of Management, 2(1), pp.19-25.

Coetzee, J.L., 1999. A holistic approach to the maintenance “problem”. Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering, 5(3), pp.276-281.

Horman, M.J., Riley, D.R., Lapinski, A.R., Korkmaz, S., Pulaski, M.H., Magent, C.S., Luo, Y., Harding, N. and Dahl, P.K., 2006. Delivering green buildings: Process improvements for sustainable construction. Journal of Green Building, 1(1), pp.123-140.

Horner, R.M.W., El-Haram, M.A. and Munns, A.K., 1997. Building maintenance strategy: a new management approach. Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering, 3(4), pp.273-280.

Lee, H.H.Y. and Scott, D., 2009. Overview of maintenance strategy, acceptable maintenance standard and resources from a building maintenance operation perspective. Journal of building appraisal, 4(4), pp.269-278.

Madu, C.N., 2000. Competing through maintenance strategies. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 17(9), pp.937-949.