By Dan Hounsell, Editor
What would you do with $100,000? Okay, maintenance and engineering managers know large piles of money don't just land on their desks.
But let's say one did. What would you do with it? More specifically, would you recommend using it for an energy project or a maintenance project? If you give the scenario some thought, your answer might be a bit more nuanced than your knee-jerk response.
Arriving at that more nuanced response might help managers develop strategies for successfully allocating precious finances, especially when they have to balance maintenance needs with broader priorities, such as sustainability and energy efficiency.
The $100,000 question came from Angela Lewis, P.E., a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Reading (Pa.), who solicited answers on several websites from facility managers, engineers, and consultants. The knee-jerk responses to Lewis's question weren't surprising: Use the money for maintenance projects. Put it where it will do the most immediate good by fixing or upgrading deteriorating facility systems and equipment.
But as the discussion continued, Lewis found respondents eventually realized that decision might not sit well with facility executives, who pay more attention to the bottom line. Soon, a more nuanced strategy emerged: Implement an energy project, then work with the project team to demonstrate the link between energy efficiency and maintenance, and suggest implementing a proactive maintenance program.
Lewis offers this takeaway: "… when starting a new project, it is also critical to account for the values and culture of the organization." In other words, know your organization.
To find out more about Lewis's research and her findings, check out www.improvebuildingperformance.com.
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.
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