Don’t Overlook these Facility Closure Issues


There’s more to shutting down a building than moving the people out and locking the door behind them. Unfortunately, with everything a has on their plate as part of the facility closure process, there are some areas that are commonly missed (or ignored until the last minute).

Because some issues can cause big problems if they aren’t addressed properly, it’s important that these items are included in the early planning discussions. The team should also recognize that time pressures are likely to come into play. The organization may be working under a firm lease end date or there may be permit windows that need to be navigated. Both are usually non-negotiable and they could add to the frantic pace.

Do you plan to sell the building? If so, work with an experienced real estate broker to get the facility into marketable condition given its intended use. You may need to upgrade outdated communication lines or add features such as covered walkways, expanded loading docks, or more secure entrance areas, for example. Consider which utilities will need to be terminated once all employees, equipment, and operations have been moved out, and begin scheduling those activities early since some providers have long lead times between notification from a tenant and the closure of accounts.

What does your lease require? Many lease agreements obligate leaseholders to return the building to the landlord in a specific condition before the contract can be closed out. Failure to complete these items per the lease’s terms could lead to financial penalties that pile up every day the organization is out of compliance. Work with legal counsel to determine if painting, furniture removal, or other activities need to completed in order to end the lease and return the space to the owner.

What will you do with hazardous waste or controlled materials? These items can’t be thrown into the trash. They may need to be removed from the location using a licensed carrier and transferred to another site authorized to accept them, sent away for disposal, or returned to the seller or manufacturer. Depending on the type of materials the building housed, the structure’s piping or ductwork may also need to be cleaned or decontaminated. Storage areas might require inspection to confirm no detectable levels of hazardous items remain. Transportation and disposal permits are typically required to deal with controlled materials, and the timeframes to submit applications and carry out the permitted work are often finite. Large fines could result if permitting issues aren’t handled appropriately.

What’s your plan for the existing equipment? Some furnishings or machinery may need to be cleaned or decommissioned before it can be donated, sold, or scrapped. If items will be relocated to one of the organization’s other facilities, those activities need to be coordinated early and scheduled in a way that causes the least disruption to shutdown of the old facility without delaying the startup of operations in the new one. Power, space, and other installation requirements should also be determined well in advance to avoid delays in making the equipment operational in its new location.

What will happen to raw materials or other stored items? If your organization plans to use these goods at other locations, the team will need to prepare them for transport and schedule a ship date. Consider how the transfer will occur to ensure you have ample time to coordinate the logistics. Can the materials move by truck? Do they require refrigeration or other special accommodations? Consumption forecasts for each item will be helpful in determining how and when they’re moved or marked for disposal.

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