Dan Hounsell: Can Money Change the Image of Maintenance?

By Dan Hounsell, Editor  
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What would it take for the occupants of institutional and commercial buildings to care about and maybe even pay attention to the impact of maintenance and engineering departments?

For decades, building occupants — including many facility executives — have treated departments largely as necessary evils that lead "out of sight, out of mind" existences. They pay attention to maintenance and engineering only when a problem arises with a building or its systems. Not surprisingly, money very likely could play a central role in changing this troubling mindset.

A project conducted by researchers at the University of California Berkeley looking into building energy efficiency found that tenants in commercial office buildings whose utilities are bundled into the rent use far more electricity than tenants who pay their own bills. A report on the research in the Berkeley Blog suggests this link between energy efficiency and financial reward might be changing building occupants' attitude toward maintenance and engineering:

"Although many faculty and staff are oblivious to the incentive change, the program is on the radar screen of the people who manage department budgets and buildings … Office managers who had been uninterested in building maintenance before the program now closely monitor their daily energy consumption and alert facilities managers when something looks amiss."

Maintenance and engineering managers obviously cannot offer financial incentives. But if they can help occupants see the link between department activities and the bottom line, they might help occupants better understand and appreciate the essential role of maintenance and engineering.

Read the blog report here: http://ow.ly/JAZYp

Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.

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

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