Building Facilities Management is the set of tools and services that support the functionality, safety and sustainability of buildings. Find out what it is and why it matters
Building Facilities Management is a vast and challenging discipline that ensures the operation of an asset throughout its entire life cycle.
Have you ever wondered how important it is and what its functions are in the construction world? Find out by reading this article.
What is Facilities Management in the world of Construction?
Facilities Management (FM) within the AEC sector can be defined as the set of tools and services that support the functionality, safety and sustainability
The official definition provided by ISO 41001:2018 indicates Facility Management as “an organizational function that integrates people, places and processes within the built environment to improve people’s quality of life and core business productivity.”
In other words, Building Facility Management indicates the ordinary and extraordinary operations necessary to ensure that a physical environment supports, throughout its life cycle, the needs and the function for which it was designed and built. Whatever the type of asset (residential building, school, offices, etc.), Facility Management, which finds expression and fulfilment in the figure of the Facility Manager, ensures that its physical spaces and resources are able to support the needs to which the work must respond for correct use during the entire lifecycle.
Why is Facility Management important in the construction world?
The importance of Facilities Management in the construction world goes much further than you can imagine. The Building Facilities Management guarantees the perfect usability of the spaces by users ensuring that the buildings in the complex are:
In fact, all buildings are designed and built to perform a specific function for the community and FM is the backbone that ensures that this function can be performed safely and comfortably throughout the life cycle of the asset. Facilities Management supports and ensures the functionality, safety and sustainability of buildings by ensuring:
- Productivity and usability: The first and most important function is to ensure that staff, employees and in general the users of a building are able to effectively carry out their work tasks, if it is an office or commercial building, and to enjoy the spaces with the same degree of effectiveness with which they were designed, if it is a residential building. This means making sure the space is clean and organized and also keeping the equipment and systems working properly.
- Comfort and safety: One of FM’s services is to ensure that the building is comfortable and safe for its users. Ensuring that buildings, their equipment and installations are periodically inspected to meet safety standards is critical to minimizing risks and liability.
- Profitability: Productivity, safety and comfort must be maintained efficiently. It is well known that asset management represents the longest and most burdensome phase of the entire life cycle of the asset for which Facility Management aims to minimize unnecessary operating costs.
- Modularity: especially when it comes to a commercial or office building, its management must keep up with the changes that frequently affect the workplace. This means that the FM must be able to be modulated so as to manage, always with the same effectiveness, also an asset with functions and needs that vary over time.
- Sustainability: Facility Managers have a social responsibility to promote asset management practices that are as environmentally friendly as possible. A line of action aimed at environmental sustainability can be based on reducing waste – with a consequent reduction in costs, on optimising energy efficiency, or more generally by identifying and introducing new best practices.
What are the functions of Building Facilities Management?
The functions of Facility Management in the construction sector are divided into two categories: Hard Services and Soft Services. Let’s look at them in more detail together.
Hard Services are related to the management of those physical structures that cannot be easily removed and whose management must be careful and punctual to ensure the health and safety of workers or occupants.
These services include:
- ordinary and extraordinarymaintenance of the building;
- maintenance of HVAC systems;
- energy and watermanagement, with a view to sustainability;
- management and maintenance of lifts and escalators;
- maintenance of the electrical and hydraulic system;
- maintenance of the fire safety system.
These services are instead linked to maintaining the comfort and safety of the various spaces of the building.
Here are some of them as a reference list subject to variations based on the type of building and the life cycle phase of each asset:
- cleaning and custody services;
- security measures;
- car park maintenance;
- waste disposal;
- refuelling of furniture and equipment;
- information systems;
- space management;
- maintenance of external appliances
Facility Manager skill requirements?
Facility Managers are the professionals at the helm of asset management and to do this efficiently and effectively they must show a mix of these 11 skills:
- Economic capabilities: the Facility Manager manages and supervises the aspects relating to the structure, plants and technologies that require a significant economic investment and is therefore responsible for important expenditure assessments.
- Operations & Maintenance: in order to ensure the operation of an asset throughout its life, the Facility Manager must know its entire structure in order to ensure that all its parts continue to operate efficiently, safely and in compliance with current regulations.
- Leadership: FMs must be able to lead the management of each asset in an innovative way and demonstrating that they know how to align the needs of the asset with the resources available.
- Project Management: this is a fundamental skill for the Facility Manager who will have to manage assets of various types and nature throughout his career. Project Management’s sub-skills include: planning and design, execution, delivery, and evaluation.
- Communication skills: Facility Management involves many professional figures with whom clear, effective and timely communication must be guaranteed.
- Performance & Quality: the FM must understand the needs and expectations of the various stakeholders regarding the facilities’ services that it will then have to deal with, proposing, where possible, a certain degree of innovation.
- Facility Information Management & Technology Management: concerns the ability to manage the technological infrastructure of the asset.
- Occupancy and Human Factors: ability to take measures to protect the environment and the people who use the facility, supporting organizational effectiveness and minimizing risks.
- Real estate management: ability to understand real estate principles and practices in relation to their importance for management decisions and strategies.
- Risk Management: risk management is a very important skill for the Facility Manager who has among his main responsibilities the maintenance of the asset so that it can always be used safely.
- Sustainability: Facility Managers are required to take measures to protect the environment and people who use the asset spaces they manage, supporting organizational effectiveness and minimizing risks and responsibilities. They must assess the overall effects of the asset on the environment at all stages of planning, design, construction and management.
Building Facilities Management is certainly a challenging discipline in the AEC sector because it must ensure that the asset continues to function, throughout its life cycle, with the same performance and functionality with which it was planned. The mission is not easy but also in this sector BIM is of great help and for this reason I recommend you to try for yourself how BIM Facility Management Software can make the management of buildings and infrastructures much easier and innovative.