FCA (Facility Condition Assessment)/FCI (Facility Condition Index) – “… and now, the rest of the story”
A manufacturing plant, commercial strip mall, office building, or institutional facility all represent a physical asset which should be properly managed maintained in order to minimize operating expenses and maximize its useful service life. For every dollar of investment in equipment or building, over ten dollars are spent on maintaining the facility and equipment over the course of the asset’s lifetime – ensure the assets are being properly maintained in order to avoid large capital repair and replacement projects. In the case of asset acquisition, understand the expected life of a building system and equipment to avoid short-term liabilities and maximize returns on investment. Facility assessments, audits and monitoring of the maintenance functions performed by the owner, landlord, team, tenants or operators provide value to all of the stakeholders when conducted by an objective third party.
A FCA (Facility Condition Assessment) and subsequent the FCI (Facility Condition Index) is a very common practice in today’s Facilities Management, Federal Asset Management, and Corporate Real Estate world. First introduced to our industry in early 1980’s by the DoD as a performance indicator, it most widely used by federal, state, educational and not-for-profit entities. To quantify the results of condition assessment surveys, many federal agencies use a FCI performance indicator. The FCI is, in fact is a method of measuring the current condition of facilities to assess how much work, if any, is recommended to maintain or change their condition to acceptable levels to support organizational missions. What constitutes an acceptable level of condition will vary by agency, by mission, by the importance of specific facilities (e.g., critical, supportive, neutral) and/or by types of facilities. This variability underlines the importance of setting performance goals for facilities asset management. There is also variability in how the FCI is developed across departments and agencies. In the Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard, FCI is calculated as Deferred Maintenance divided by Current Replacement Value. Managers and consultants also use a range of techniques to convey condition-related information to executive management: color schemes, letter grades, numerical scales, dollar scales, or ratios. These schemes often blend two different issues: the current state of facilities and users’ or occupants’ expectations for them. Three, four, or five color schemes are typically used. Most color schemes derive from a “traffic signal” concept of red (poor-yellow-green. Typically a qualified Technician will perform a “site analysis” according to the owner requirements. He/she will then gather condition data and provide key condition and operation functionality information that is used in allowing decision makers (financial and operations) to make sound budget decisions as it relates to repair, replace or maintain critical components of a buildings functional assets.
Although the FCA and FCI do allow the owner to identify and track the “condition” of the property’s physical assets, they do not provide the owner critical detailed information on how the building and its assets are functioning as it relates to the sustainability both financially and environmentally.
What a great time to consider a Retro-Commissioning (RCx) by and OWNER ADVOCATE/THIRD PARTY Commissioning Authority Professional (Cx) from Commissioning & Green Building Solutions, Inc. (CxGBS). RCx is a systematic, documented process that identifies low-cost operational and maintenance improvements in existing buildings and brings the buildings up to the design intentions of its current usage. RCx typically focuses on energy-using equipment such as mechanical equipment, lighting and related controls and usually optimizes existing system performance, rather than relying on major equipment replacement, typically resulting in improved indoor air quality, comfort, controls, energy and resource efficiency. RCx includes an audit of the entire building including a study of past utility bills, interviews with facility personnel. Then diagnostic monitoring and functional tests of building systems are executed and analyzed. Building systems are retested and re-monitored to fine tune improvements. This process helps find and repair operational problems. The identification of more complex problems are presented to the owner as well. A final report, recommissioning plan and schedule are then given to the owner. Building systems can be purchased from different vendors, installed by different contractors and operated by different facilities staff, who are under pressure to resolve occupant complaints about comfort. Quick fixes may resolve an individual complaint, but can lead to other systems becoming out of balance and losing the persistence of benefits from initial building commissioning or retro-commissioning. Additionally, building systems require periodic analysis and adjustment.
Subsequently, ongoing commissioning is continual retro-commissioning focusing on the persistence of completed improvements. Ongoing commissioning involves regularly scheduled sessions with the building occupants along with operation and maintenance personnel. This process incorporates monitoring and analysis of building performance data provided by permanently installed metering equipment to verify building performance, the satisfaction of the facilities management and staff, and the extent of actual savings.