A New Model for Facilities Management

Sorenson Molecular Biology Building

May 28, 2014 — As of 2011, the Facilities Management Department (FM) here at The University of Utah has adopted a new model for running our buildings on campus. FM is in charge of a great deal of property and services here at The U: they are involved in planning processes for projects that need to be accomplished on campus such as overseeing construction, maintaining daily operations, as well as so many other matters here at the University. The department keeps the U of U safe, as well as making sure that buildings are functional and attractive. They are always working towards making things run more efficiently and this new operations model helps achieve that goal.

Currently on campus, each department at the University is in charge of coordinating with various service providers for the jobs that must be accomplished in their building, whether that is maintenance management (cleaning, grounds, utility infrastructure, etc.), work order processes, food service management, IT issues, C-Cure/security oversight issues, etc. This model can be time consuming for the building occupants’ and sometimes distracts from the core mission in their department.

In order for these peoples’ time to be used more efficiently, FM is looking to implement a new approach. Their new model consists of hiring Facility Managers to be in charge of managing a group of buildings here on campus. These managers would be responsible for coordinating and keeping track of all the behind-the-scenes services, letting the departments focus on the work they do best. The manager would also provide one point-of-contact for the occupants of the building, reducing confusion and creating more convenience in the maintenance process. This concept stands to enhance the tenant/occupant experience and improve satisfaction, productivity, and retention, as well as help improve the operational efficiencies of services delivered to the building. This model is similar to how commercial real estate companies and large corporations operate. These companies and corporations use facility managers or property managers to deliver services to their tenants.

This model was first applied at the Sorenson Molecular Biology Building (SMBB) in January 2012. Having a Facility Manager available has proven successful at SMBB so was replicated at the new Eccles Football Center as well as other facilities utilized by Athletics. Hamid Ghandehari, PhD described his experience with the Facility Manager, Joseph Ashurst, at SMBB: “(He) worked closely with our lab manager to address ongoing concerns including storage, furniture, food services, freezer alarms and insurance – in general, helping bridge the gap where services are needed… (He) also worked with the Building Management Committee to set building policies and provide input on space management concerns.” Ghandehari felt that having the Facility Manager available to tackle these issues, rather than having to take them on all on his own, was highly valuable and allowed issues to be taken care of much more efficiently.

Furthermore, in the short history with this model, some of the value is seen in the reduced energy costs at SMBB and the Spence Eccles Football Center. Oversight of security systems, developing fume hood energy efficiency program and evaluating design standards, initiating an RFP for UPS maintenance that can be utilized campus-wide, acquiring food service for SMBB, and many other actions resulted in benefits to either the University or the building occupants.

This success has left FM eager to continue to implement this operations model throughout other areas in the University. Unfortunately, to do this, funds are needed, funds that FM is currently lacking. In order to see that this model is applied to the entirety of the roughly 7 million square feet of space they are responsible for, FM is currently working with the University to find room in the budget and to incrementally grow the program. The goal is to receive the additional funding to add 2-3 facility managers a year over the next 3-4 years to provide service to every building across campus. Knowing the Facilities Management Department and their track record for success, it is sure that this goal will be accomplished.

Contributed by Kate Giolas

Contact Info

Shireen Ghorbani