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Today's tip comes from the University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest public universities in the United States. The school needed an efficient, objective, and repeatable method of prioritizing facilities projects, as well as creating its annual budget and 10-year plan.
After an initial facility condition assessment of the entire campus in 2002, the university completed a second assessment in 2005 and a third in 2010. Recently, the facilities team wanted to find the best method to maintain the integrity of the data, while implementing a schedule of detailed condition assessments each year for 20 percent of the approximately 19 million square feet of facilities.
The university has a large maintenance and facilities staff, making self-assessments a feasible solution to complement the five-year professional assessment cycle. Using a Web-based guided self-assessment tool from VFA Inc., the staff can gather current data for critical buildings.
One benefit of gathering accurate facility data is that the true condition provides a metric to analyze the effect of investing in facility improvements. Industry-wide, this benchmark is known as the facility condition index (FCI).
When gathered in a software database, as UT-Austin did, FCI provides a complete view of the necessary and recommended maintenance items and their cost for the selected portfolio, as well as the expected replacements for the major building systems. It can then serve as the basis of strategic facilities plans.
By using the software to evaluate the condition of its buildings, UT Austin’s capital planning program has helped to demonstrate a need for more funding to support renovation and renewal projects, resulting in annual budget increases. The old spending trend of 80 percent funding for repair work and only 20 percent for system replacement and renewal has been inverted to 15 percent funding for repair and 85 percent for system renewal.