Managing in the Dark: Facilities in COVID

The job of facilities managers used to be pretty straightforward: keep the lights on, keep people comfortable. It was all about availability, uptime, and comfort. However; the world is changing, and now facility management must respond to failures before people even notice them. They must predict maintenance based on conditions rather than time, and all this needs to be done with less people and less energy. With the critical role facilities play in the health and safety of occupants, there's no room for missteps.

It seems like there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that we face.  So, what does an ideal scenario look like for facilities managers?

 

 

First, we need to step back and realize we will not be adding all the necessary staff that we require, so we need to find a substitution.  The first place to look is how to leverage the data we already collect and how to enable the use of the data as our “eyes on” and provide us real time situational awareness.  If we can enhance our data with logic-based analytics and provide information, we can shift our resources to critical priorities and ensure the availability of our facilities.

Second, this operational information can notify the facilities team of problems and allow us to be proactive in solutions and communications instead of waiting for complaints to roll in.  We can even go one step further; we predict our facility performance and use that information to identify underlying issues we may have never found until it was too late.

This is not about implementing thousands of rules and getting overwhelmed with “alarm fatigue,” but about enhancing your own data, based on your own facilities, based on your needs.  It allows you to break down silos and use basic information from meters, building automation and plant systems to provide you an integrated awareness. 

University of California, Davis is a great example of this. In 2013, they set the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the campus's building and vehicle fleet by 2025. With more than 1,000 buildings comprising 11.3 million square feet, this was no small feat. Beyond the obvious projects, UC Davis turned to the PI System to drive more efficient use of resources. By looking at the right data, UC Davis has been able to better inform their strategy for creating a carbon neutral campus.

UC Davis a perfect example of simply starting and starting simple. The data will provide the guidance on where there are opportunities to meet your objectives.