Table 1. FCI benchmark scale.
With winter upon us and energy prices higher then ever before, the Harvard School of Public Health has already been aggressively working to curb their operating costs. This effort is challenging every facility manager as each must grapple with increased pressures from shrinking budgets, raising operating costs, increased deferred maintenance backlog, and an aging workforce.

While there are a variety of utility/energy cost sharing and rebate programs available, who has the time to research, apply for, and execute these programs? The practice of conducting facility condition assessments has always been a routine approach to collecting and organizing a deferred maintenance list. But how many times have these detailed engineering reports just provided "planning level" project cost estimates, and then collected dust on the office shelf? When asked about the status of condition assessment documents, many managers simply point to the three-ring binder and say "There they are," and "We had one done several years ago without ever executing any of the work."

There is some light at the end of the tunnel. Some groups and facility teams are beginning to take a more holistic approach to controlling rising energy costs and deferred maintenance through innovative asset management programs. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston is well known among its peers for its progressive and innovative facility management style. HSPH houses a variety of office and laboratory space throughout its 540,000-sq-ft home to many important research programs that aim to improve public health around the globe. So, for Dean Paul Riccardi and operations manager Dan Beaudoin, tenant satisfaction is of paramount importance. Providing comfortable space with reliable infrastructure at a reasonable cost is their top priority.

HSPH is proactive in the area of energy conservation and is very active in the Harvard Green Campus Initiative (HGCI, that engages both facility managers and tenants to "achieve the environmental, human health and financial benefits of high performance campus planning, design and operations." A major component of this program has been energy conservation/-reduction. Another is their participation in the LEED™ program where HSPH recently received LEED certification for 42,000-sq-ft of renovated space at its landmark facility.

In the spring of 2003, Riccardi engaged the management team of Bond Brothers Inc., and Richard D. Kimball Engineers, a Massachusetts construction management firm and consulting engineering firm (Bond/RDK), to provide the HSPH with a practitioner's approach - to combine energy saving programs with campus deferred maintenance into an executable program - one that would not sit on the shelf. In addition, the energy/asset team of Bond/RDK/HSPH (TEAM) was joined by NSTAR, the local utility service provider, which agreed to provide funding support for the HSPH energy study and implementation.

Together, the diversity of experience worked well, and the TEAM developed an Assess - Implement™ approach, an organized methodology to help HSPH analyze its operations against both master planning goals and industry benchmarks, develop short- and long- term projects in support of these, and implement the projects in a timely fashion. Key drivers were system reliability (to protect research lab projects) and reduced operational costs from energy conservation.

Table 2. An example of the “quick fix” action plan.

Building 2 Facility Assessment: Looking For Elephants

With a good handle on conditions of three of the four buildings, the team focused its initial efforts on completing a facility assessment on Building 2. Historically, research tenants have often funded their own space renovation to support their unique programs, while the major support equipment/systems are under the control of HSPH. Concurrent with this study, Harvard announced that there was consideration being given to a possible relocation of the HSPH operations to another Boston site. If it were decided to relocate, the HSPH would move in approximately seven to 10 years. So, the TEAM's effort needed to incorporate a "programming" component to their approach and recommended action plan.

The TEAM employed a three-pronged approach to the assessment and prioritization of deferred maintenance projects, including programming, a facility condition index, and an energy review as follows.

Table 3. An example of the one-to-three-year ROI action plan. Significant findings include heat reduction of 46,000 Btuh/sq ft; electricity reduction of 105,929 kWh; and water reduction of 328,000 ccf.


Before the on-site condition assessment work commenced, a facility programming meeting was held to review the historical, short-, and long-term use/planning of the building. This approach ensured that the recommended deferred maintenance projects were closely coordinated with the building's future use, and provided a focus on the cost-effective use of available project funding.

The programming meeting discussions provided essential information to help guide the condition assessment approach and recommendations.

Facility Condition Index (FCI)

Accepted by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA), the Facility Condition Index (FCI) is a useful tool in assessing equipment condition and identifying project prioritization.

The FCI is a comparison of "total cost of existing deficiencies" to the "current replacement value." For example, a total cost of $2.5M in existing deficiencies divided by a current replacement value of $25M equals an FCI of 0.1 or 10% benchmark.

The TEAM identified its threshold benchmark such that system components with an FCI of 0.5 or greater were to be highlighted for immediate action in the report recommendations.

Energy Review

Energy data provides insight into the efficiency of the facility's equipment assets. When energy use is compared and graphed with other information such as "degree-days" and benchmark information from the DOE, energy conservation measures (ECMs) can be identified, leading to reduced operating expenses. Benchmarks and the TEAM's combined experience were utilized to support recommended short- and long-term action items.

Table 4. An example of a greater-than-three-year ROI action plan.

Findings - Energy was the Elephant

The assessment TEAM collected, reviewed, and prepared a list of short-term and long-term recommendations to support HSPH's current master planning effort. Short-term (five to seven years) recommendations would apply even if the school elected to relocate to a new location. Long-term (20 years) recommendations would become warranted only if HSPH decides to remain at its current location.

Short-term. The five-to-seven year plan focused on:

  • An FCI of >0.5;
  • Reliability of essential systems; and
  • Energy saving opportunities.

Long-term. This alternative would necessitate developing a comprehensive reinvestment master plan that would consider the following:

  • Space planning analysis, including growth projections and use consolidation (tenant type);
  • Upgraded infrastructure assets (mechanical, electrical, and telephone/data systems) to meet space planning needs;
  • Increased energy conservation measures; and
  • Focus toward LEED certification.

Although the overall focus of the project was a condition assessment for Building 2, a brief review of available energy billing/consumption information indicated to the TEAM that the overall campus energy use was well above industry benchmarks.

Energy Approach: ROI And Retrocommissioning

HSPH had been very proactive in traditional energy conservation efforts that included lighting retrofits, installation of VFDs, tune-up of control loops, and motor management programs, and was actively involved with NSTAR funding programs. So when NSTAR wished to pilot test its new retrocommissioning program, the HSPH was a natural candidate.

In return, NSTAR joined the TEAM to provide substantial project funding to help validate its new initiative. Retrocommissioning programs are becoming increasingly more popular, where the energy conservation reviews extend from static equipment installations to dynamic programs such as operational BMS and instrument calibration. BMS monitor system operations (track and trend meter data), which then can be compared to performance anticipated during design as well as past years' performance.

Retrocommissioning of existing buildings is the process of re-evaluating the existing systems or equipment and making improvements to re-establish peak energy performance, thus maximizing energy efficiency and savings potential.

In addition to retrocommissioning, the approach was further expanded to investigate water conservation opportunities in a broad effort to help identify ECMs that could be added to those identified in the previous condition assessment project. Each ECM was documented on an individual sheet and included such details as a photo, information regarding existing condition, energy retrofit details, energy calculations, estimated labor and material costs to implement, and ROI calculations. The ECMs whose ROI calculations were three years or less were considered to be implementation priorities.

Recommended Action Plans

The action plans were grouped into three categories:

  • A quick fix;
  • A one- to three-year ROI; and
  • An ROI greater than three years.

In addition to the identification of new ECMs, the report served to provide a "snap-shot in time" and also documented ongoing projects. Findings are summarized into Tables 2, 3, and 4.

Training and Presentations

It is crucial that existing personnel are given the tools to perform energy conservation activities once the retro-commissioning professionals have completed their activities. As a result, a training program was included to enable operations personnel to:

  • Identify systems or equipment with highest energy savings potential;
  • Measure actual energy performance;
  • Define and document energy performance;
  • Detect and eliminate excess energy use; and
  • Quantify savings achieved.

In addition to the on-site training of facilities staff, it is also important to develop site-specific manuals documenting the steps taken to achieve commissioning results and to develop an in-house plan to continue commissioning activities on an ongoing basis.

A financial presentation was held with facility management staff, detailing the program and explaining the process and cost savings that are achievable through a continuous commissioning program. HSPS also intends to develop a quarterly performance report to help monitor trends and share information with tenants.

Implementation Plan

In order to complete the Assess - Implement approach, all the findings from condition assessments (deferred maintenance issues) and energy analysis need to be organized in a simple, bundled project summary based on TEAM benchmarks.

Consequently, a simple matrix was prepared that summarized energy savings opportunities, system reliability, and project justification considerations including the FCI and project payback/ROI. This approach made it easier to illustrate how related small projects could be combined into one or more bundled projects to provide an even more cost-effective solution. In addition, utility rebate programs were identified that will also help reduce the overall investment. The bundled projects recommended by the TEAM were chosen either because they will provide a quick energy payback (three years or less) or because the condition of the equipment (FCI) is greater than 0.50, meaning the equipment has surpassed its useful life and is in danger of failure (Table 5).

In addition to controlling risk of failure, several of these projects, when implemented, will provide a significant annual savings to help HSPH reduce its overall energy budget. Two projects alone are estimated to reduce annual energy costs by up to $268,000. Additionally, the creation of a quarterly performance report will be a good management tool to help HSPH monitor and measure the improvement in, and effectiveness of, its program.

Integral to the success of this project has been Bond's contractor estimating expertise. This business tool is a key to a practitioner's energy/asset program approach because it provided validity to the implementation process. Who better to determine the project cost than the firm responsible for implementation?


The proactive practitioner's approach is a simple, but effective, measure that will help facility managers begin to gain control of rising energy costs and deferred maintenance. It brings a design-build approach to small projects. This proactive Assess - Implement model is truly a pioneering concept in the industry, noted Riccardi. A summary of the components is included in the sidebar.ES

Side bar 1

The FCI benchmark scale is as follows:

  • FCI of 0.00 to 0.05 indicated the equipment in "Showpiece Facility" condition;
  • FCI of 0.06 to 0.15 indicated the equipment in "Comprehensive Stewardship" condition;
  • FCI of 0.16 to 0.29 indicated the equipment in "Managed Care" condition;
  • FCI of 0.30 to 0.50 indicated the equipment in "Reactive Management" condition;
  • FCI of 0.51 or higher indicated the equipment in "Crisis Response" condition.

Side bar 2

Assess - Implement™ In Action

Step 1: Assess

Condition assessments:

  • Inventory assets;
  • Review existing studies;
  • Conduct new study;
  • Review CMMS data; and
  • Interview staff.

Analyze utility usage:

  • Electricity;
  • Heat;
  • Water; and
  • Identify available utility rebate programs.


  • Assess MEP system performance.
  • Summarize based on benchmarks:
  • Facility Condition Index; and
  • ROI.

Summarize based on master planning efforts:

  • Integrate with goals and objectives.
Step 2: Implement Design:

  • Energy focus; and
  • Maintainability.
Budget cost estimates:

  • Contractor validated; and
  • Identify available utility rebate programs.

  • Bundled projects; and
  • Establish prioritization scheme.
Continuous monitoring and analysis of improvements:

  • Establish benchmarks;
  • Regular reporting; and
  • Analysis and adjustments.

Selecting simple, industry-wide benchmarks is helpful in helping prioritize projects to fit into the facility manager's ever-shrinking budget. Educating financial staff on these industry benchmarks can help substantiate your deferred maintenance needs and budget. Benchmarks also ensure that assessment approaches include master planning considerations so that recommendations are readily executable, and do not require further staff analysis (i.e., who has the extra time?).

Key: ECM-1E - Electrical; ECM-1P - Plumbing; ECM-1H - HVAC; ECM-1G - General