"An ideal facility manager must have Aristotle's logic and Solomon's wisdom, a priest's discretion and a gambler's poker face, a lawyer's shrewdness and a marketing director's charm, a gladiator's guts, a marathon runner's perseverance and a sprinter's speed, a leatherneck's toughness and a dancer's agility, lots of good luck and 30 hours per day." ~Unknown Source
A couple of months ago, we established that Facilities Managers are not janitors. But I don't like defining things by what they're not. So let's take another look at what it takes to play the role of a facility manager.
The International Facility Management Association states: "Facility management is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology." In our Facility Management Technology (FMT) Associate of Applied Science degree program at Ecotech Institute, America's first college entirely focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency, we define Facility Management (FM) 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.
Facility managers are a new breed of "specialist-generalist" –Google Ngram Viewer shows that the term "facility management" doesn't appear in literature until the 1950s. According to the book Managing the Built Environment, the following "FM Pie" has been very popular with facility managers around the world:
Managing the Built Environment's Michel Theriault goes on to explain:
Depending on your role, you may be responsible for all these elements or just a few. You may also oversee them all, but have other experts on your team who focus on a specific aspect of the role. Some of these specific areas are actually represented by their own professions when performed as a distinct, separate role. For instance, a portion of the Pie covers both Commercial Property Management and Project Management. The Facility Management profession actually encompasses both of those functions.
Why has this modern role arisen, and why is it so important? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are over 5 million commercial buildings and industrial facilities in the United States alone. The combined annual energy costs for U.S. commercial buildings and industrial facilities is over $200 billion. But, most importantly, the portion of energy in these buildings that is used inefficiently or unnecessarily is 30 percent! That's a huge opportunity for improvement – and cost savings.
Here are some more facts from the EPA:
- Combined percentage of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions generated by commercial buildings and industrial facilities: 45 percent
- U.S. greenhouse gas emissions generated by commercial buildings: 17 percent
- U.S. greenhouse gas emissions generated by industrial facilities: 28 percent
- If the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings improved by 10 percent, the collected savings would be $20 billion
- The amount of greenhouse gas emissions prevented would equal to the emissions from about 30 million vehicles – or the number of registered automobiles in Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Texas combined!
So, there are two major factors driving businesses to employ facility managers:
- Cost savings
- Environmental protection requirements
It should not be a surprise that U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected job growth for facilities managers (2010 to 2020) is between 10 and 19 percent!
"The Facility Manager's most useful skills are Management & Leadership related – particularly the ability to develop strategy, communicate, lead and manage resources." ~Michel Theriault
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.