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Repeat as Needed: Maintenance Is Essential

By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor - December 2013 - Maintenance Solutions Columnists

maintenance, education, sustainability

Maintenance and engineering managers spend a great deal of time searching for ways to reduce water use in their institutional and commercial facilities, and we regularly profile successful water conservation projects.

But as I learned recently while speaking with John Lawter, associate director of plant building and grounds services at the University of Michigan, not everyone is on board yet. "People don't realize what a valuable and scarce resource water is," he says. "We're surrounded by 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply, so they don't get that."

To help his staff become more aware of environmental issues, Lawter involves them in the planning process for new initiatives.

"In some cases, it might be some extra work, so we have to go back and explain the environmental benefits," he says.

In some ways, his comments remind me of the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality so many managers and departments face within their own organizations. Occupants tend to forget about maintenance and engineering until something in the building goes wrong.

So, as with Lawter's challenge to educate his staff on the importance of water conservation, managers would be wise to do everything possible to remind whoever will listen — building occupants, top executives, the public — that maintenance and engineering departments are essential for safe, reliable and efficient facilities.

Beyond that, they deliver important benefits, whether it's bottom-line savings or greater sustainability. That is a message that managers cannot deliver often enough.

Dave Lubach offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.

Agree? Disagree? Have something to say? We want to hear from you. Visit, and start a conversation.

Talking Points

Part 1: Repeat as Needed: Maintenance Is Essential


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