How To Make Data-Based Decisions

  March 30, 2011

Today's tip is about how facility managers can use data to make decisions. Facility managers are probably well familiar with the idea that "you can’t manage what you can’t measure." That may be true, but to truly manage, that maxim should be expanded upon a bit. Really, "you can’t manage what you can’t measure, analyze and make decisions as a result of."

Some facility managers think simply collecting data is enough. They think, "Well, now that I’m measuring this, if a problem ever arises, now I’ll have the data to investigate." That’s too passive, most experts would say. Only collect data if you can be sure you have a way to analyze it with a specific goal in mind - reducing energy use or lowering your space-per-occupant standard, for instance.

Let's take a look at an example: Rob Pearlman, who is the senior facilities and administration officer at International Finance Corporation, a Washington D.C., based member of the World Bank Group, has been running an experiment at the company’s 1.2 million square foot headquarters. He uses his building automation system to tweak setpoints in particular areas of the building, and then tracks complaint calls into his facilities help desk to determine if the new setpoint is to hot or too cold for the occupants. If complaint calls don’t fall outside of an already-carefully-monitored threshold, Pearlman leaves the setpoint and then begins tracking how much energy the new setpoint saves. It's a brilliant strategy to squeeze every last ounce of energy out of a building that is already at a 94 Energy Star rating.

Health care facility managers may be familiar with this concept, which they call evidence-based design or evidence-based management. It's a concept that facility managers would do well to become familiar with and implement in their own organizations.


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