Survey Considers Challenges of Aging Buildings

Manhattan Old and New Buildings Image by Jo Wiggijo from Pixabay
Image by Jo Wiggijo from Pixabay

It’s no secret that lighting and electrical technology changes faster than the flip of a switch. New building construction incorporates this new technology, but existing buildings miss out.

A new report released in April by industrial distributor Grainger details the challenges building managers face when operating and upgrading older buildings. At the same time these findings also present an opportunity in all of this outdated building infrastructure. For the report, “The State of Aging Buildings: Today’s Building Management Challenges,” the company surveyed more than 1,000 professionals involved in purchasing building maintenance supplies.

One of the report’s findings is that a time investment is required to figure out what needs to be addressed and when, and the least intrusive way to do so. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of buildings in the United States were built before 2000.

Another issue is that, “finding parts for aging assets is a consistent issue and the primary factor when deciding to repair or replace.” Determining who will do the work—a staffer, an outside electrical contractor or another trade—and managing costs, planning and budgeting also are an ongoing concern.

Specifically, for the survey respondents, finding compatible parts for older systems, managing energy efficiency, safety and lowering costs topped the list of their biggest challenges.

But these challenges could represent an opportunity for electrical contractors.

Electrical (71 percent) and lighting (59 percent) were among the top five issues to address in older buildings. Sixty-four percent and 61 percent were planning improvements or upgrades to lighting and electrical components, respectively. Half of those building managers prefer to use outside electrical contractors for electrical projects, though they don’t rely on these providers to purchase the supplies they need; they purchase supplies in-house instead.

For those looking at lighting upgrades, the survey found 77 percent see inefficient energy use as their biggest challenge. For those looking at electrical systems upgrades, 54 percent said that compliance with regulations and codes is their biggest challenge, and 50 percent cited energy inefficiency as their biggest challenge.

More than half of the respondents, 57 percent, have made upgrades, improvement or repairs in the last five years, and 48 percent indicated planned building improvements are in the works.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.