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Obama’s Promise on Deferred Maintenance
February 2, 2009 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions. Today’s topic is, energy efficiency and sustainability.
Presidential candidates make a lot of promises, but few voters expect a candidate to keep them all. Presidents-elect do the same thing, but maybe there’s a difference. Maybe — given they’ve already won election — there is reason to hope a president-elect actually can achieve real results.
President-elect Barack Obama recently made a promise that hit close to home with many facility managers.
In his Dec. 6 address to the nation posted on YouTube, the president-elect announced his plan for “the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We’ll repair broken schools (and) make them energy efficient.”
For more than 20 years, facility managers in the nation’s K-12 public schools have wrestled deferred maintenance. A 2002 estimate published in School Business Affairs totaled the nation’s unmet needs for K-12 school infrastructure, including deferred maintenance, new construction, renovation, retrofits, additions and major grounds improvements.
The estimate: $226 billion. And that was six years ago.
Obama’s statement has raised the issue of deferred maintenance to the highest level it has ever reached in the public’s mind. And it might have given real hope to facility managers in K-12 public schools who battle this problem daily.
It might not be realistic to believe Obama or anyone else can eliminate deferred maintenance. But it will be important that he take measurable steps to at least try. For now, simply having a public discussion about one of the nation’s most urgent needs is a huge step.