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Kevin Childs, EMCOR UK’s Account Director for the Natural History Museum, discusses how they work closely with the world-class visitor attraction, to provide flexible FM across its specialist environments.

The Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London, attracts five million visitors every year, making it one of the top tourist attractions in the UK. The Museum’s famous buildings also contain world- renowned science facilities, with temperature-controlled labs, over 75 million specimens, and extensive collections areas.

EMCOR UK has been providing expert FM services at the Natural History Museum since 2001. As the Museum relies on limited government funding, supplemented by donations and commercial earnings, EMCOR has helped the Museum to make its FM budget go further, whilst supporting an extensive programme of events and exhibitions.

Throughout the 13-year partnership, EMCOR’s contract scope has evolved, developing considerably to meet the Museum’s changing requirements. Today, EMCOR provides a wide range of services for the Museum which include maintenance of the mechanical and electrical systems; fabric maintenance; pest control and waste management; event support and life-cycle management; management of fire and security; supervision of building engineering and projects; and FM consultancy services.


LIMITED FUNDING As the Natural History Museum’s

funding from the government is linked to visitor numbers, the Museum’s focus is all about providing a good visitor experience and encouraging repeat visits. To that end, EMCOR tries to stay hidden, carrying out its planned maintenance work in galleries before the Museum opens, and undertaking reactive work in off-peak hours, where possible. In this way, the company carries out over 12,000 maintenance tasks each year.

It’s also key that we regularly reviews costs with senior members of the Museum’s team and highlight ways to save money. One way in which we’ve helped the Museum’s budget stretch further is through the implementation of a three-year asset maintenance plan. This maintenance plan provides a clear schedule of when major maintenance repairs are due; giving the Museum a better overview of its forecast capital expenditure. The plan also aims to help reduce costs further by making assets and equipment last longer, for instance by undertaking partial repairs to maximise the lifecycle of the equipment before replacement.

Sustainability is another area of focus for the Natural History

Museum, as it is required to meet carbon reduction targets set by the Government. EMCOR is also part of the Museum’s sustainability committee and, through our energy reduction initiatives, such as the intelligent lighting systems now in use, have helped the Natural History Museum become the first museum in the UK to receive the ISO 14001 standard in Environmental Management.

One of the other main FM challenges the Museum faces is the risk of fire damage or pest infestation, which could cause irreversible damage to its invaluable collections and historic buildings. While maintaining the fire safety systems, we identified that the Museum was in a 25-year technical support agreement for their public address voice alarm (PAVA) boards, with no maintenance support, so EMCOR proposed the replacement of all the PAVA racks over a two to three year programme, not only giving more onsite control but also finding substantial savings for the Museum. The Museum and EMCOR also have a collaborative approach to pest control, dovetailing our pest control regime with the Museum’s own science, which utilises enzymes and microorganisms.

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