When my kids were younger, they seemed to pick up a cold almost weekly, most of the time catching it from their schoolmates, nothing major. We’d see it coming from the obvious signs: sniffles, feeling achy, acting sluggish. Sometimes we’d call the pediatrician, who would immediately ask us, “What’s your son’s temperature?”, which was a friendly reminder to just take out the thermometer and keep track of their temperatures, as their temperature would usually tell us how they were holding up and what care was appropriate.
If you’re a Facilities Manager, often times the buildings feel like your children, and wouldn’t it be nice to grab the thermometer at the first signs of a “cold” to help figure out the appropriate care? Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Facilities Managers are often presented with the challenges caused by their aging facilities. Should I replace the leaky roof over the cafeteria? Do I repair the exterior timber that is deteriorating? Is this the year to replace my noisy boiler? Where are my other assets in their life cycle? To make matters worse, your school may have limited funds or no reserves. Because of these challenges, organizations can be left with significant backlogs of facility renewal and replacement needs resulting in an increase of deferred maintenance, causing their facilities to have a fever of sorts.
Deferred maintenance is commonly referred to as the postponement of facilities or equipment upkeep from an institution’s routine operating budget cycle. This deferment is typically due to the lack of funding, but it can also be for prioritization or more strategic reasons, such as planned capital projects where it would be addressed. The US Department of Education is quick to point out, “Maintenance can only be deferred for a short period of time before school facilities begin to deteriorate in noticeable ways. Without regular maintenance, equipment begins to break down, indoor air problems multiply, and buildings fall into greater disrepair.” Additionally, numerous studies have shown that students and staff in less than standard school buildings perform at lower levels than students and staff in new, more functional, facilities, which could have a detrimental impact on retainage. So how should a Facilities Manager or institution track their deferred maintenance, and thus, the temperature of their facilities? Often times, a Facilities Condition Assessment (FCA) is the answer.
According to Harvey Kaiser, fundamentally, “an FCA answers this question: What will it take to bring the building or infrastructure back to its original condition and to meet current codes. The audit reveals observed conditions and permits formation of remedial projects to correct deficiencies – ranging from deferred maintenance backlog to projected future renewal needs.” Put simply, an FCA can help an institution plan for future expenditures (operating and capital), document current and remaining years of an asset’s operating life, assist in developing a strategic preventive maintenance program, and prove as a critical building block for any Master Planning initiatives.
The benefits of a Facilities Condition Assessment can be very impactful, and can let the Facilities Manager know whether or not their building(s) has a fever. It’s important know the temperature of your facilities, and often times, an FCA can be the thermometer. So, what’s the temperature of your campus?