Trends Among Underused Elements of Reporting
Trends are among the most underused elements of effective reporting. Facility data tends to be reported as specific metrics. For example, the energy utilization index (EUI) for a given year is reported as 93.2 kiloBtu per square foot for a particular building. But is that good or bad? High or low?
It is hard to tell without the context of baseline or benchmarking data. This is where trends become very important. Trends allow us to see the picture of performance over time and draw conclusions about their meaning.
Figure 6 shows data from a facility that could not be benchmarked against peer facilities. Instead, managers tracked facility data over time to develop a baseline. The manager then trended the EUI, a measure of the facility's energy use over a 12-month period divided by the facility's floor area, as a running metric. It turned out the facility actually was reducing its energy use. This was readily apparent from the EUI trend line. Based on the data, the energy-conservation efforts that had been implemented appeared to be effective.
Figure 6. Energy Consumption Trending
How often should a manager issue a report? Ideally, as often as leadership needs or requires one. The key is to provide reports on a timely, consistent basis. Depending on the organization, that could mean providing reports monthly or even annually. Maintaining consistency sets expectations and conveys a professional demeanor. It also communicates the importance of consistent processes, and it conveys to facilities staff that the data they work to provide is useful and relevant.
Facility reports are one of the best opportunities managers have to showcase the value of their department's contributions. They can communicate accomplishments and future direction, and they are an excellent tool to gain support for next steps and future initiatives. Injecting creativity into report has the power to catapult reports from mere data to tools that compel the audience to engage in our success.
Laurie Gilmer, P.E., CFM, SFP, LEED AP, CxA, is the Vice President of Facility Services at Facility Engineering Associates, and leads FEA's facility asset management, building energy management, and sustainability services. Laurie is a published author, and co-authored the International Facility Management Association's (IFMA) second manual in the Sustainability "How-To-Guide" Series, EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Laurie is a member of ASHRAE and IFMA, is chair of IFMA's Sustainability Facility Credential scheme committee.