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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Opportunities Everywhere You Look

By Dan Hounsell   Maintenance & Operations

How many areas of facilities fall into that dreaded “out of sight, out of mind” category? For most occupants of and visitors to institutional and commercial buildings, the answer is, most of them. Hardly anyone pays much, if any, attention to much that goes on beyond their immediate area.

Managers, supervisors, and front-line technicians in maintenance and engineering departments have no such luxury. In fact, one might say that departments’ top priority is to pay attention to those very areas — out-of-the way spaces, unseen systems, and long-ignored equipment. If they don’t do it, no one else will.

But that’s not necessarily a curse. It doesn’t even need to be vaguely negative. In fact, managers who take a close enough look at these neglected areas might turn up unexpected benefits for their organizations. Consider these examples.

Roofs. It’s hard to find any area of a facility that is more out of sight than the roof. Nobody wants to think much about it, much less actually go up there. But for managers in the San Diego City School District, the roof has become a huge boon to the organization. Photovoltaic roof systems on 14 district buildings can generate 1.8 megawatts of energy, as well as more than $6.9 million in roofing replacement and electricity savings over 20 years.

Refrigerators. The district also was saddled with more than 1,000 old, energy-hogging refrigerators hiding out in the nooks and crannies of schools and administrative offices. By replacing these taken-for-granted units, managers generated energy savings for the district. The change also cut down on repair calls, and standardized refrigerators meant fewer parts to keep in inventory.

For more such strategies, see the article by Renee L. Shroades.

Insulation. Nearly invisible to most people in facilities — even many in maintenance and engineering departments — insulation is among the large number of facility components receiving renewed interest, thanks to rising energy prices and new tax incentives for energy-efficiency upgrades. See the special report for more information.

Facilities are full of similar opportunities waiting for managers to spot them. As Yogi Berra put it, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Especially when no one else is.

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  posted on 4/1/2006   Article Use Policy

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