Talking Points: Protecting Maintenance as Facilities Shrink

Talking Points: Protecting Maintenance as Facilities Shrink

By Dan Hounsell, Chief Editor  

The growth in new construction among institutional and commercial organizations is likely to continue in 2016, according to analysts. That trend is a welcome indication of improving economic conditions nationwide.

But not all organizations are growing, at least not physically. Some large institutional and commercial organizations actually want to shrink their facilities footprint. In recent months, three large organizations — the U.S. General Services Administration, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Maine — have announced plans to sell, decommission or demolish some facilities.

Such a move is not necessarily an act of desperation. In fact, it often is a careful, strategic plan that can benefit an organization’s bottom line. But its impact on maintenance and engineering departments can be another story.

The factors driving these actions have been obvious for years. As buildings age, many organizations face huge maintenance needs, especially among the oldest facilities in their portfolios.

Coupled with tighter budgets, this burden has prompted organizations to rethink their facilities strategies. Some have drastically cut maintenance budgets in response, and the results have been disastrous.

Here’s where data can help. In recent years, more managers have turned to data-gathering technology that tracks facility use levels and uncovers energy waste. The results of this process can reveal opportunities to shed facilities and save money.

But in shrinking the facilities footprint, the temptation is to go too far when estimating the funds needed for maintenance and engineering duties. The ongoing challenge for managers is to remind their organizations of the dire results of too little maintenance funding, as well as the central role their departments play in creating energy-efficient and cost-effective facilities.

Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities. Agree? Disagree? Have something to say? We want to hear from you. Visit, and start a conversation.

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  posted on 11/25/2015   Article Use Policy

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