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26 May 2015
Does Workplace Suit Culture, Work, Business Goals?
It’s not really a surprise to see the Wall Street Journal reporting on trends in workplace design. But when I read about office design in an airline magazine, or see it on the local news, I start to wonder whether something is up. What’s up, I think, is interest. It’s no secret that work patterns are changing. Easy mobile access enables many employees to be productive outside the office. And when...
19 May 2015
FMs See Need For Action on Climate Change, Survey Says
Buildings offer substantial opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And that fact puts facility managers on the front lines of efforts to address the issue of climate change. Which got me wondering: What do facility managers think about climate change? When we’ve written about climate change, we have inevitably heard from a handful of readers who deny that human activity is causing changes in the climate...
4 Mar 2015
NFMT Launches ‘High-Performance Buildings’ Event
For facility managers who are aiming to achieve a high-performance building, one challenge is deciding exactly what a “high-performance building” is. There’s no single industry-wide definition. But that doesn’t mean that the term lacks substance. One good way to understand the concept is to say that you know it when you see it. A high-peformance building is extremely energy efficient in operation...
3 Feb 2015
Changing Of The Guard
When things change, the lion’s share of the attention goes to what’s new. Think of the shift to new office designs, to outpatient facilities, to megawarehouses. But what stays the same — occupant comfort, energy efficiency, support for the organization’s mission — remains essential. Both aspects are evident when veteran personnel retire, as many facility managers know well. New staff bring...
2 Jan 2015
Defending BAS Against Hackers Is Facility Priority
When Target’s point-of-sale network was breached by hackers, who then stole millions of credit and debit card numbers, some early reports said the hackers had gained access to the Target network by way of the building automation system. As it turned out, that wasn’t true . But if hackers are interested in breaking into an organization’s network, the BAS could be a starting point. And a recent Building...
24 Nov 2014
U.S.-China Agreement on Climate Change Is Big First Step
What would it mean for greenhouse gas emissions, if the whole world used air conditioning the way we do in the United States? Consider that, according to one study, India would have 15 times the demand that we do. For China, the multiplier would be five. The answer, of course, depends on how efficient the cooling equipment is, and how the electricity that powers it is produced. I’m not suggesting that more air...
21 Oct 2014
Advice For Dealing With Top Management: Shrug It Off
When the subject of top management comes up in conversation, you can divide facility managers into two categories: the eye-rollers and the shruggers. I’m only half kidding. Top management makes more than a few choices that, to a facility manager, seem to fall somewhere between short-sighted and foolish. Confronted with one of these decisions, some facility managers roll their eyes and shake their heads in evident...
23 Sep 2014
Small Market Sports Teams Hold Lessons For Facility Managers
With pro basketball season approaching, things are looking pretty good for small-market teams. The defending NBA champs — the San Antonio Spurs — are the sport’s long-running small-market success story, with five titles under the current head coach. And this year’s title favorite is another small-market team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, which lured the league’s biggest star, LeBron James, back...
23 Sep 2014
Aging Infrastructures Could Push Water Costs Higher
When I see the words “water problems” and “California” in the same headline, the first thing that comes to mind is drought. But what made the headlines recently is the water main break in Los Angeles, which cost the city millions of gallons of water. When I hear “water problems” and “Lake Erie” in the same newscast, my first thought is pollution. And it was in fact algae...
22 Jul 2014
Who Cares What FMs Do?
I’m sure there are times most facility managers feel that way. When your budget has been cut again. When you’re the last one to find out about a change in the way the facility will be used. When the umpteenth ludicrous complaint hits your inbox or voicemail. Well, the fact is there are tens of thousands of people who care about what you do. That’s because they do the same thing. And tapping into the...
1 Jul 2014
Justifying Funds For Training: Survey Numbers May Help
How many times have you heard someone say, “people are our biggest asset”? Maybe you’ve said it yourself. It isn’t news that people play a critical role in getting buildings to perform efficiently. For example, Energy Star numbers have shown for years that older buildings can perform just as well as newer ones, on average; what matters for performance isn’t how new the building systems are...
17 Jun 2014
Don't Let Your Buildings Be Greenwashed
The sign hanging on the door of the bathroom assured me that this hotel was sensitive to concerns about the environment, so it was going to let me choose how often I would have my towels laundered. I’m always happy to see those signs. They seem like such a painless way for a property to enable guests to save a little water and energy, while, of course, saving the hotel time and money. But I have to say that I...
22 Apr 2014
Climate Change Report Shows It's Important To Make Facilities As Energy Efficient As Possible
Here’s an interesting way to look at energy use by U.S. buildings, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Institute : Existing buildings in the United States account for 72 percent of our electricity use, which is more electricity than any country in the world (except for China and, of course, the United States) uses in total. For all of us concerned about climate change, that number offers some good news. It’s...
25 Mar 2014
Facility Managers And Occupants Often Speak Different Languages
Facility managers are often told that they should speak the language of the boardroom — ROI, IRR, and NPV instead of kWh and Btu. But top management isn’t the only group that may require facility managers to do some translating. Two sessions at NFMT showed that it’s far from a given that the message is getting through when facility managers talk to building occupants, and vice versa. One session had...
7 Mar 2014
FMXcellence Honorees Show Many Ways To Add Value
One thing that makes facility management, ahem, interesting is variety. There is no end to things that can go wrong with the building itself, to say nothing about complaints from occupants. Fortunately, there are also plenty of opportunities to add value. A look at this year’s FMXcellence honorees shows how many ways there are to do that. Westminster Schools is a great example of bootstrapping an energy and water...
3 Feb 2014
New Role Model For Facility Managers: Apple
I have always thought that the real secret of Apple’s success was software. Apple didn’t invent the PC, but the Mac operating system blazed the trail that Microsoft followed in the 1980s. There were MP3 players before the iPod, smartphones before the iPhone, tablets before the iPad. Without giving it much thought, I assumed that iOS and platforms like iTunes and the App Store defined Apple. So I was surprised...
28 Jan 2014
Occupant Complaints: Horror Stories And Practical Responses
A few months ago, our senior editor, Naomi Millán, showed me a draft of a survey on occupant complaints for the cover story of the January issue . The last few questions were open-ended, asking readers to share their tips, pet peeves, and horror stories. The usual rule with surveys is that open-ended questions dampen response. Three open-ended questions seemed like a lot to me, but since they were at the end...
21 Nov 2013
Healthcare Facilities Can Help Patients Feel Better To Heal Better
I found myself unexpectedly out of the office recently. Most of the day was spent waiting around. Fortunately, I landed in a 10th floor room with a nice view, and the facility had a good WiFi connection. It wasn’t quite the same as being in the office, but I could get a lot done. That’s not the way I would have expected to describe an overnight stay in the hospital, where I wound up for observation after...
25 Sep 2013
Facility Managers Can Help Close Green Gap
Over the years, I have wondered if the U.S. Green Building Council should be doing more to ensure that LEED -certified new buildings are operated in a way that ensures they live up to their green designs. Well, as time has passed, “more” is exactly what USGBC has been doing. With LEED v4 , USGBC is taking new steps to emphasize the actual performance of construction projects that earn LEED certification...
20 Aug 2013
"Tenant Star": Congress Considering Bill To Recognize Tenant Energy Efficiency
Landlords do it. Owner-occupiers do it. But tenants in multitenant facilities? They really can’t do it. At least not at present. “It,” in this case, is getting certified by Energy Star . Now, as tenant energy use draws more attention, Congress is considering a bill that would create “Tenant Star” within the Energy Star program. The idea is to recognize tenants that voluntarily achieve...
23 Jul 2013
Climate Change Is An Issue That Won't Go Away
The good news is that per capita carbon emissions in the United States are down significantly over the past few years. The bad news is that our per capita emissions level is still more than twice as high as that of China or the European Union and roughly 10 times as high as that of India. (Click here for a report showing the numbers as of 2011 - see page 13 of the report.) In that context, President Obama’s announcement...
25 Jun 2013
Understanding The Real Priority Behind GM's New Data Centers
Let’s pretend your company decides to do what General Motors just did: make a massive investment in new data centers . (Well, maybe not quite as massive an investment as the $230 million dollars GM says it will wind up spending to construct its two new facilities.) What do you, as the VP of facilities, do now? There are a million things to do, of course. But one of the most important is to ask a simple question...
14 Jun 2013
Is Green A Good Idea For Facility Managers?
The reason I pose the question in the headline is that I sometimes hear facility managers say sustainable measures aren’t worthwhile if they don’t pay for themselves. Certainly it’s great when green steps have a strong ROI. In many cases it’s also a practical necessity: Top management often won’t fund green measures if the ROI isn’t good enough. But is sustainability merely another...
7 May 2013
Yahoo! Says It's Dumping Work-At-Home For Collaboration
It’s surprising that the edict came from the tech industry, where competition for talent is fierce. But there it was, in a memo to all Yahoo! employees: “Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices.” Estimates of the number of people who work from home vary widely. But whatever the number, telecommuting is widely seen as an employee...
2 Apr 2013
FMXcellence 2013 Recognizes Facility Managers Who Add Value
There’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s FMXcellence honorees, but the lesson may not be obvious. ( Click here to read about the honorees. ) This year’s honorees were recognized for very large projects or programs. The enterprise real estate group of TD Bank Group helped meet a corporate commitment to carbon neutrality by creating an enterprise green building program that has produced three...