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Last edited 22 Oct 2020
Decommissioning is the process of shutting down a building and/or removing it from operation or use. Decommissioning may be followed by re-commissioning, repurposing or demolition. Common types of buildings that may be decommissioned include; power stations, oil rigs, factories, warehouses, public buildings and so on.
Decommissioning can be a complex process that requires careful planning and management to ensure it is carried out efficiently and safely. Depending on the extent and scope of the decommissioning required, it can involve:
- Disconnecting utilities to the building.
- Switching off the water supply and draining pipes.
- Considering the fire safety of the vacated building.
- Shutting down HVAC systems.
- Ensuring the roof and facades are weather-resistant.
- Preventing excess moisture and humidity by providing ventilation.
- Ensuring doors, windows and opening are secured to prevent trespassing.
- Clearing vegetation surrounding the building.
- Removing hazardous, flammable and waste materials.
- Providing temporary support to weakened or damaged elements.
- Installing a security system.
 Defining the end-state
In the first stage of decommissioning planning, the desired end-state of the building must be clearly defined. For example, whether the whole building is to be decommissioned or only part, whether plant and equipment are to be removed or left in place, and so on.
Preparing a decommissioning plan can help to clarify the objectives of the building owner. This might set out a methodology relating to safety, what and how items will be recycled or re-used, how any hazardous substances are to be dealt with, cost-efficiency measures, and so on. A specialist consultancy team can help prepare a decommissioning plan.
 Preparing a scope of work
Once the decommissioning plan has been formulated, a scope of work can be prepared which describes the exact process for achieving its objectives. The scope of work will enable the management to make informed decisions as to the level and expertise of personnel that will be required to undertake the tasks.
 Identifying resources and appointing specialists
Once the tasks and activities have been detailed in the scope of work, the necessary resources that are required can be identified. The extent of the decommissioning, and its complexities will determine whether specialists are required.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building owner's manual - O and M manual.
- Design for deconstruction.
- Design life.
- End of life potential.
- Listed building.
- Pre-demolition audit.
- Pre-demolition and pre-refurbishment audits.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Structures at the end of their design life.
- Urban decay.
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