The relationship between energy use and quality of the facility management function in small to medium enterprises (SMEs)
Ross-Bain, Jeffrey Grant
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The hypothesis of this research study is that the level of energy consumption within a commercial building is associated with the quality of the facility management function. The constraints of this study are limited to the Small to Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) which includes most businesses and building types in the United States. There is little available literature on facility management functions within the SME. Most literature related to facility management is directed towards larger organizations that would most likely support a facility management department. To evaluate the association between energy use and facility management quality a comparison was made by graphing energy performance against the quality of the facility management function (FM Quality). The energy metric used is the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star rating system. Energy Star is a building rating platform created to allow building operators a means for tracking performance and performance improvements. The Energy Star score is derived for each facility in this study. The inputs for arriving at a score include building type, size, climate zone, past energy bills, and quantity of computers in the building. The FM Quality metric was developed as part of this research and was derived through literature review, peer review, field study, and observation. The FM Quality metric is based on four primary factors that include corporate organizational structure, facility management expertise, facility condition, and data management practices. Within each primary factor are five individual performance, or “Quality” indicators which are graded on a 1-5 point scale from poor to excellent. In developing the FM Quality score, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. Data was collected by visiting each of the small businesses and conducting an on-site walkthrough to observe conditions and, at the same time, conduct interviews with the building operators and/or managers to understand their facility management practices and organizational culture. Upon completion of the walkthrough and interviews, the data for each building was compiled into the Energy Star and FM Quality score and then transferred to a graphical format for analysis and display. The eleven subject buildings were all located in the Southeast United States (Climate Zone 3A). The conclusions of this study confirm the fundamental aspects of the hypothesis; namely, that there is a positive association with building energy use and the quality of facility management practices. However, a larger number of subject properties would be necessary to determine this association with certainty. The development of the FM Quality metric, a direct result of this study, is an important foundation for measuring the FM function and can form a basis for future studies. This metric will help to increase understanding of how SMEs manage their facilities and can facilitate further research intended to improve the performance of facility management. Furthermore, this line of research would help to raise awareness, especially among upper level managers, that quality facility management practices have a significant impact on operation costs, energy use and facility condition.