Standardizing facility asset data and health assessment processes are critical steps to building a strong foundation for sustainability. As we work to achieve net-zero targets and carbon footprint reductions, we must prioritize deferred maintenance, capital projects, and programs backlog, and we must address the asset health and condition foundation for these decisions. By taking simple, consistent steps to maximize efficiency, we can systematize our knowledge to effect real change.

To make accurate comparisons of key assets that most impact sustainability measures (HVAC systems, lighting systems, etc.), we need to first identify those assets using standardized terms. Then we must assess their health using consistent procedures and risk ratings.

For example, one inspector calls an asset an “air handler” and collects information about the current flow rate for the unit she is inspecting. She notes the manufacturer, make, model, nameplate, age of the asset, and the most recent maintenance performed. This inspector also specifies special condition impacts of the rooftop location of the unit, as it exposed to sand and debris.

Another inspector calls a similar asset a “blower” and collects information about the manufacturer, make, model, nameplate, and age of the asset, but no other risk-related factors that impact its life. We have a disconnect on multiple levels: we cannot easily search and identify the two units because of the different nomenclature. We cannot make an informed hypothesis about early failure root-cause issues without additional follow-up inspections. And we have limited ability to prioritize higher or lower risk assets for future maintenance and eventual capital replacement.

To solve these problems, we must first identify the full set of terms and needs in a consistent, standardized list. As we identify common opportunities, we can group projects to improve equipment purchasing leverage and parts and engineering services. These critical efforts will drive significant sustainability gains across organizations.

For example, one client recently embarked on re-lamping tens of thousands of stores to LED, saving millions through planned bulk purchasing. Rather than using the costly approach of having each store manager identify and manage individual LED lighting upgrades, this client was able to take advantage of huge energy savings across the store portfolio. This approach yields a one-time cost savings on the purchase and implementation program and long-term ongoing savings for energy usage.

With a mindful foundation, we can create more efficient systems that allow us to manage large facilities with fewer resources. Building consistent systems enables us to make clear recommendations for needed capital project investments, to prioritize those projects based on critical risk, and to impact compliance, and other cost-savings objectives. Most importantly, these foundations allow us to meet our maximum potential as contributors to a more sustainable future for our companies and our planet.

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