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Establishing Sustainable Facilities with Kevin Folsom

Director of Facilities and Plant Operations
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas


Kevin Folsom
Director of Facilities and Plant Operations
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

1. You implemented the facilities condition index for your organization. What kind of impact can it have on institutional and commercial facilities?

Essentially, we are talking about facilities portfolio management. Much like investment portfolio management.

The facilities condition index (FCI) is one of the measures in this process. There are many levels of measures that are needed depending on the type and use of the facility. The development is to maintain your current replacement value (CRV), which is the total development cost to build a current facility to today’s standards. Then build a list with estimated cost of all accumulated deferred maintenance (ADM) – deferred renewal – and divide the two numbers so you have a percentage of accumulated deferred maintenance to the CRV: (ADM ÷ CRV = FCI).

The most effective use of the FCI is to determine which facility has the greatest needs and to quantify in a rational way the level of deficiency to an industry standard.

2. How old are your building components, and how do you implement modern, energy-saving measures into your facilities?

The only method I have is to do this globally through complete facility renewal. Somehow my staff and the campus occupants do an amazing job with keeping our energy use very low. I have a pretty antiquated campus from an educational facilities perspective that my department manages quite well. Lighting systems are 20-plus years old, distributed chiller and boiler systems are 20-50 years old, roofing systems are 20-80 years old, and windows are 20-80 years old.

In recent years, I have had three energy-performance contracting companies and one energy-engineering company study our utility bills and existing equipment to determine what the payback would be to do a campuswide upgrade of all lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The best anyone has come up with is 25 years and a nice compliment that they cannot believe how low our energy use is.

So the only incentive I have for our leadership to consider these upgrades is reliability and better comfort. Then after all the work is done, we still have outdated space distribution, restrooms, elevators, plumbing systems, electrical systems, cosmetic issues, and out-of-compliance Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) codes and fire alarms.

3. How can a facility audit help managers measure the life cycle of their buildings and determine capital renewal needs?

Within a facility’s 50-year life, there are basically four cycles that have a fairly predictable decay rate, required compliance to maturing codes, and economic phaseout needs:

1. At the end of the first 8-12 years, components needing renewal are life-safety systems, flooring, interior painting, exterior waterproofing, mid-life cycle roof maintenance, and replacement of premature failing components. The approximate cost is 15-20 percent of the CRV at that point.

2. At the end of 25-30 years, components needing replacement or possibly renewal due to decay or economic phaseout are the HVAC mechanical system, roofing system, exterior openings, exterior waterproofing, interior space layout due to institutional changing needs, and code compliance for ADA, elevators, life safety, and environmental considerations. After this work is completed, the facility, for the most part, will seem new and effective again. The approximate cost is 40-50 percent of the CRV at that point.

3. At the end of the first 38-42 years, components needing renewal are life-safety systems, flooring, interior painting, exterior waterproofing, mid-life cycle roof maintenance, and premature failure components. The approximate cost is 15-20 percent of the CRV at that point.

4. At the end of the 50-60 year life of the facility, evaluation is made whether to historically restore or remove the facility from the inventory.

Facilities auditing is simply documenting those components that have an expired life cycle.

4. What role does preventive maintenance play in establishing sustainable facilities at your organization? What effect does it have on a building’s life cycle?

Even though in 1971 Fram oil filters coined the most popular phrase ever on this issue – “You can pay me now, or pay me later” – preventive maintenance still is sadly underfunded. Preventive maintenance gives components the best chance at a full-uninterrupted life cycle.

Let’s step back and look at the big picture for a minute. An appropriate preventive maintenance program should be funded on average at 1.5 percent of the CRV of a facility. Using the Fram analogy, which is much like a really small facility, 1.5 percent of a $20,000 car is $300 per year. The equivalent would be to pay someone to come to your car’s location to provide maintenance and inspections, while working around your schedule to prevent interruption. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

5. What do you suggest for managers who face challenges in saving and planning for capital renewal but now have to incorporate upgraded systems in their facilities?

It’s imperative that the leadership understands the overall condition of the facility in which you’re installing all this new technology. What are the other pressing matters being left behind that will cause the organization to fail in meeting or disrupting its mission with its facilities?

posted:  4/9/2008