In the college and university environment, facility condition index (FCI) is an analytical method to benchmark the condition of its buildings and infrastructure. For the government, it is building evaluation report (BER), but without a comparable benchmark method to FCI. Both are attempts to build a facility management strategy to contribute to the vision and mission of the college, university, or government facility. Unfortunately for other institutions and industries, there are no such standardized processes that come close to mirroring these data collection and solution planning tools.

Recently a roundtable session was held with our construction management partner to discuss facility assessments. Several individuals responsible for facility management at surrounding colleges and universities were invited. Four agenda items were "put-on-the-table" in this open forum. These were:

  • To examine information on current practice relative to deferred maintenance, short- and long-range planning, and execution.
  • To identify "best practices" related to organization and project management.
  • To review a model for facility condition assessment.
  • To discuss challenges related to eliminating deferred maintenance backlog.

Here are many of the comments presented in the random format of this three-hour session:

  • A campus master plan is needed before a facility condition assessment can be implemented and can contribute to the short- and long-range plans of the college or university.
  • Most requests for facility condition assessments are initiated and endorsed from below and pushed up the chain-of-command.
  • Estimates, done by consulting engineers, are not accurate enough when compared to estimates by individuals in the construction industry.
  • Estimates often lack "constructability" factor and/or "soft costs."
  • Budgets are based on "today's costs."
  • A 10% engineering cost should be added to each equipment replacement price to address potential for improvements, in lieu of "apples-to-apples" changeout.
  • Infrastructure distribution upgrades can be a "line item/allowance" in the facility assessment annual budget.
  • The term "business plan" was routinely mentioned in the facility assessment discussion.
  • Once data retrieval is inputted, the data needs to be "scrubbed" for accuracy, assumptions, and priority.
  • Once priorities and deferred maintenance costs are compiled, "load-leveling" the annual budget is needed.
  • Rereview categories in 3 to 5 years.
  • Code compliance is not deferred maintenance.
  • "Major repair" is a category to be concerned with based on state code requirements relative to project cost vs. percentage of building value that could result in a requirement to bring the building up to code.
  • Explore influences that encourage facility assessment, admissions, and student life, and the need to draw researchers to the college or university (to mention three tasks).

Facility condition indexing is applicable for "not-for-profit" institutions and institutions that are there for the "long haul." It is not necessarily applicable for the health-care industry and businesses, such as the high-technology companies, who are in a very competitive and financially driven market. In 2002 we will continue with roundtable sessions that look at facility assessment and how to benchmark the current conditions of buildings in various industries. When we do, we will share with you what we are hearing. ES