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Facilities Managers... We're Not Janitors

If I were to ask you, "What does a Facilities Manager job entail," what would you answer? (Hint: If you think this has something to do with janitorial services, you're way off!)

According to Wikipedia, "Facility management (or facilities management or FM) is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the coordination of space, infrastructure, people and organization, often associated with the administration of office blocks, arenas, schools, convention centers, shopping complexes, hospitals, hotels, etc."

To this definition, Wikipedia adds: "However, Facility Management facilitates on a wider range of activities than just business services and these are referred to as non-core functions." Does this remind you of the "…and all other duties as assigned" clause that now seems to be the standard in all job descriptions?

Whatever Facilities Manager jobs may entail, one thing facilities managers are not is janitors. FM may be a generalist role, but it is not a low-level custodial or housekeeping role.

At Ecotech Institute, we describe our Associate of Applied Science degree program in Facility Management Technology (FMT) as follows:

Facility managers plan, manage and optimize critical facility operations and maintenance for a variety of buildings, grounds and equipment. Increasingly, they develop and implement plans that incorporate energy efficiency into a facility's operations and structures. These tasks require integrating the principles of business administration, sustainability, information technology, architecture, and engineering.

What Facilities Management Training Means at Ecotech
Ecotech's Facilities Manager program curriculum (PDF) includes courses in Commercial and Residential Energy Analysis, Lighting, and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC). Of course, it includes an Introduction to Sustainability course, as well as Fundamentals of Electricity, AC Circuitry, Computer Fundamentals, and Wiring, Schematics, and Blueprints. Higher-level courses range from Business Concepts for Renewable Energy to Operating Sustainable Facilities and a capstone course in Energy Resources. Our program even includes an all-important-but-often-overlooked Health and Safety in the Field class.

Upon successful completion of this program, our graduates should be able to:

  • Operate facility systems in a reliable manner
  • Manage a facility system budget
  • Make data-based analysis of energy utilization patterns for commercial buildings
  • Recognize and correct inefficient building energy system interactions
  • Use appropriate software to obtain information necessary to maintain and optimize building operations
  • Recommend facility improvement plans
  • Apply safety principles to facility management
  • Prepare and present technical and project reports
  • Communicate facility issues effectively at all levels

Top Facilities Manager Job Titles
So what career opportunities may be available to a graduate of Ecotech's FM program?

A sample of possible facilities manager job titles include:

  • Energy Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Operations and Maintenance Manager
  • Energy Auditor
  • Maintenance Supervisor
  • Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds
  • Building Manager
  • Plant Manager
  • Energy Technician

So, no mops, brooms, or cleaning supplies are to be found in the Facilities Manager's "toolkit," although those who work for Facilities Managers may employ such tools.

Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability "story teller." In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.