The Value of Knowledge
Understanding your base building performance is one of the first steps to successfully managing your facility. Base building performance allows you to examine your energy uses, water consumption, and materials flows within the building. In addition to these items, you should identify specific building inventories such as lighting, plumbing fixtures, chemical use and construction waste management. It is also important to record activities like green cleaning, transportation or indoor air quality surveys of building occupants.
Many building owners outsource facility management services, which may change over time. Changeovers in personnel also alter building activities and practices. These changes make it difficult for a building owners, facility managers or property managers to adequately track what’s happening in their facilities. One of the biggest challenges is having a common database of building information in one location. Once you benchmark your base building performance in all areas, you can begin to identify opportunities for improvement and realize cost savings strategies, which is critical information for a building manager to establish an ongoing capital improvements budget.
Sustainability is becoming a common part of a facility manager’s vocabulary and standard practice in state and government legislation. In many states, groups and organizations are trying to pass laws that require building owners to make their base building performance public knowledge. Up to now, energy has been the key focus, with water and waste stream tracking and recording not far behind. If a building owner is proactive now, they can stay ahead of impending government legislature and be seen as a leader in their region. In addition, they can take advantage of incentives that may be available in their specific regions.
The purpose of Continuous Building Improvement – Tracking and Performance is to establish ongoing goals once your baseline has been determined. Depending on your budget; internal or external resources; and your overall improvement schedule, continual building improvement tracking will assist in communicating and demonstrating how your building is performing in any given area – whether that is energy use, purchasing or integrated pest management practices.
Gathering and understanding the data is the first step, followed by recording and tracking your performance. Then, implement any improvements necessary to support your building goal of continuous improvements. The final steps are to continually track, record and make improvements to your building. Continual building improvement is a process that will serve your facility well by reducing overall maintenance and operational costs, support the well being of building occupants and reduce your overall environmental footprint. This, in turn, ensures long-term viability in a changing marketplace and keeps you in a leadership position.
Tools you can use
It’s important to develop the right infrastructure to ensure continued success. One way to accomplish this would be to develop spreadsheets and software tracking systems tailored to your management systems and overall maintenance and operations practices. LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance requires that you re-certify your building at least once every five years, more often if possible. Developing a plan for the future can support your efforts in this area. LEED for Green Building Design and Construction 2009 requires that you submit your building for EB certification, allow the U.S. Green Building Council to have access to your building utility data, or begin tracking your energy performance under the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Having a Continuous Building Improvement – Tracking and Performance tool will allow you to do this successfully.
Ongoing education is important as well. Facility staff turnover, new building tenants and employees, and changes in the scope of operations and maintenance present potential challenges to your commitment. Protect your investment by using the right tools to help you track and record your ongoing building improvements.