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How Should FMs Work On Building Resilience?


By Greg Zimmerman Facilities Management

As the cover story of the March issue of Building Operating Management, we published a long 7-part article on the hurricane season of 2017 and lessons learned in emergency preparedness and resilience in buildings. One of the themes that emerged from talking with facility managers for that piece is that the idea of resilience still isn’t well understood or prioritized in the FM world — what is resilience, how does it complement sustainability and other aspects of facility management, and what are the measures to take for making existing buildings more resilient?

Thinking about resilience should mean thinking about it in terms of the regular framework of a facilities management operation — both in terms of practice and budget. Resilience shouldn’t be thought of as an add-on, or something extra that needs to be done. It should be a standard operating procedure of good FM.

Does that always happen? Judging from the dearth of material online instructing FMs how do this, it’s probably safe to say the answer is no. Some of the key questions often left unanswered by the resources out there – which are fantastic, but mostly for new design – include: If FMs need money to support resilience strategies, what are the best ways to justify these to upper management in a budgeting presentation? And furthermore, how can resilience in existing buildings be measured so as to be justified appropriately?

While the answers to these questions aren’t easy, what is clear is that resilience isn’t a trendy buzzword that’s going away soon when people get tired of it. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on weather patterns, and natural disaster become more frequent, resilience is quite possibly THE most important concept for FMs to understand and incorporate into their daily operations.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story profiling Northwestern University’s vice president of facilities management, John D’Angelo.

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