General Architecture, Engineering, Construction & Facilities Questions

What is Facilitiy Management?

Facility management is an interdisciplinary field primarily devoted to the maintenance and care of commercial or institutional buildings, such as hospitals, clinics, hotels, resorts, schools, office complexes, sports arenas or convention centers. Duties may include the care of air conditioning, electric power, plumbing and lighting systems; cleaning; decoration; groundskeeping and security. Some or all of these duties can be assisted by computer programs. These duties can be thought of as non-core or support services, because they are not the primary business of the owner organization (e.g., the core function of a school is teaching, and custodians or HVAC system maintenance personnel are support personnel.)

It is the role of the facility management function (whether it is a separate department or small team) to coordinate and oversee the safe, secure, and environmentally-sound operations and maintenance of these assets in a cost effective manner aimed at long-term preservation of the asset value, and also other janitorial duties such as making sure the environment is properly cleaned and sanitized for its tenants. In those cases where the operation of the facility directly involves the occupants and/or customers of the owner organization, the satisfactory delivery of facility-related services to these people will be an important consideration too; hence, the term "end-user satisfaction" is often used both as a goal and a measure of performance.

The term facility management is similar to property management although not exactly the same. While both manage the day to day operations of a facility the property such as cleaning, maintenance and security, similar to Janitors, one must not confuse it with such a title. The property manager has an expanded role which includes leasing and marketing activities whereas the facility manager role focuses on existing tenants who usually are owner occupants. An important feature of facility management is that it takes account of human needs of its tenants in the use of buildings and other constructed facilities. These softer factors complement the harder factors associated with the maintenance and care of engineering services installations.

According to Atkin and Brooks[1], an important concept in the facility management field is that of outsourcing, where the owner enters into an arrangement with external organizations to provide one or more services in preference to their being provided through internal arrangements. The reasons for this action can vary, including lack of in-house resources, lack of expertise and pressure to reduce costs. Unfortunately, confusion can exist because of the close association that facility management has with outsourcing. The two concepts are not synonymous; rather, outsourcing is one means for providing facility-related services to the owner organization.

Facility management is performed during the operational phase of a building’s life cycle, which normally extends over many decades. As such, it will represent a continuous process of service provision to support the owner’s core business and one where improvement will be sought on a continuous basis. It is essential that decision-making in the preceding design and construction phases is therefore properly informed about operational requirements if the facility is to provide optimal support to the owner’s business. In this connection, facility management can be seen as an integral part of a coordinated and controlled process of design, engineering, construction and operations. Where a facility is provided on a turnkey basis, for example design-build-finance-operate (DBFO), the consortium responsible for the delivery of the physical asset and then operating the core service will need to understand implicitly the day-to-day demands in managing that facility. Under such arrangements – typically public-private partnerships (PPP) – owner-operators must fully integrate operational thinking into early design decision-making.

A major challenge facing facility owners is reducing demand for energy for economic reasons, but also because energy consumption goes hand-in-hand with carbon emissions. Reducing energy during the operational phase of a facility's life similarly reduces carbon emissions. When considering that 30-40% of a country's total carbon emissions is attributable to buildings and other constructed facilities, it is clear that operations and, hence, facility management have a significant role to play.
 




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