If a building is open to the public, or to a select group of people (such as employees or students), the odds are good that facility maintenance will play a vital role in proper upkeep, safety, and the overall comfort of those who access the building, making it a necessity for any fully-functional facility.
To understand what facility maintenance is as it might pertain to your business, we first need to identify what a facility is. A facility is any physical commercial building where specific activities occur to serve a particular function. A facility can be a hospital, restaurant, school, warehouse, gym, hotel, office building, or manufacturing plant. Residential buildings such as houses, apartments, and condos are not considered a facility and fall under the term property maintenance.
This article will deep-dive into the area of facility maintenance as it may apply to your business. We’ll cover the benefits of facility maintenance, disadvantages, job roles, certification opportunities, and more!
Facility maintenance ensures that all areas, assets, and structures within or around a facility are operating as optimally as possible for maximum efficiency and safety. A facility maintenance action can be reactive and unplanned, or preventive and scheduled. Such actions may include anything from painting the interior and exterior of a building, or cleaning and replacing a building’s HVAC machine filters monthly to help ensure that it runs at peak efficiency. Basically, if the maintenance action impacts the appearance, operation, and performance of a facility, it falls within the wheelhouse of facility maintenance.
A facility maintenance worker is responsible for maintaining areas that include rooms, hallways, parking lots, landscape, and sidewalks; he or she also oversees a business’s essential assets, including security alarm systems, HVAC units, plumbing system, machinery, and electrical and lighting systems. Finally, a facility maintenance worker also handles all actions pertaining to building structure, such as painting the exterior and interior of the building and general building repair. Without regular facility maintenance, a facility’s condition and assets are more likely to degrade and break down unexpectedly.
Though it may seem that the two can be used interchangeably, there are major differences between facility maintenance and facility management. Mostly, facility management encompasses facility maintenance. A facility manager’s job includes overseeing the maintenance of a building, managing the maintenance team, organizing and improving office space, coordinating inventory moves (i.e. to a different floor), and virtually any other task pertaining to a building’s functionality. It is the facility manager’s job to run the day-to-day operations of a building to ensure that it is well-maintained, safe, and operating efficiently.
Bottom line: facility maintenance is one aspect of facility management, typically focusing on the inspection and upkeep of assets, utilities, and the building as a whole. Facility managers can employ facility maintenance through strategic planning, management of daily operations, building walkthroughs, audits of equipment or processes, and more.
A few examples of facility management include:
- Writing and managing contracts to manage outside vendors for landscaping, security, and cleaning.
- Looking at ways to reduce the energy use of a facility such as replacing older lighting with LEDs or reducing the hours a HVAC unit runs.
- Managing budgets for the whole facility that can include maintenance, vendors, energy consumption, software, and personnel.
- Ensuring that the facility is compliant with health and safety regulations.
- Managing a team across different divisions.
- Choose a facility management software and training the team to use it.
Contrarily, examples of facility maintenance may cover:
- Monthly lubrication of all moving parts in a HVAC unit.
- Changing light bulbs.
- Regular deep cleaning of a building’s carpet.
- Replacing a valve in the plumbing system.
- Regular inspections of lighting systems.
There are several potential benefits of implementing facility maintenance in a commercial environment. Some of these may include:
- Tenant satisfaction—if daily operations run smoothly within a work or living space, tenants are more likely to be satisfied, producing stronger results for the business.
- Increases lifespan of your facility’s assets—regular maintenance and inspections of an asset will ensure that it is operating efficiently and ultimately increase it’s lifespan.
- Cost-effective workplace environment—facility maintenance ensures that a space contains what it needs for optimal operations—no more, no less. This makes for more cost-effective ordering processes, saving the business money.
- Ability to focus on other priorities—with a facility maintenance plan in place, property or business managers are free to focus their time and money on other areas, such as increasing employee engagement, investing in new technology, or even scaling the business where possible.
- Improved efficiency—proper facility maintenance motivates employees, improves daily operations, and ensures that all equipment and technology function as they should.
While the disadvantages of facility maintenance are relatively few, here are some potential drawbacks worth considering:
- Costly for smaller organizations—smaller businesses may not be able to afford the cost of a facility manager and technician (and in these cases, the expense may not make sense);
- Potential breach of security and confidentiality—facility managers typically get involved in multiple corners of a space to ensure it is optimized for those who live or work there. With this comes the possibility of security or confidentiality issues, though a confidentiality agreement will mitigate such a risk.
- Potential loss of control (for property managers)—since property managers have different responsibilities, overseeing other areas of a building or business, they should be prepared to relinquish the relevant responsibilities to any facility manager they hire. Like any partnership, this may result in future conflict if the property manager’s vision clashes with the facility manger’s.
Several job roles fall under the facility maintenance umbrella. We’ve already touched briefly on a few of them, but we’ll explore the distinct responsibilities of each below.
Since facility maintenance is somewhat broad and technically covers the duties of several roles, the field is further broken down into different areas to be managed separately. Three positions which are encompassed by facility maintenance include: facility manager, property manager, and maintenance technician. Let’s take a closer look at each.
A facility manager works to ensure that processes within a building or organization work efficiently, and that personnel or tenants are comfortable. Technically, the position covers multiple disciplines to improve aspects of office or residential life in the areas of functionality and safety. Some niches that facility management works within and affects include employee engagement, health and well-being, and sustainable living.
Responsibilities: planning and coordinating installations and refurbishments; managing and evaluating equipment to meet health and safety standards; forecasting the facility’s future needs; supervising teams across business divisions to ensure a harmonious work environment.
Salary range: Approximately $49,091 a year according to Glassdoor.
A property manager is responsible for ensuring the safety and functionality of a property’s infrastructure(s). Differing from a facility manager’s focus, a property manager is charged with overseeing the building rather than the building’s internal operations (pertaining to people and processes). He or she manages the building and acts as a liaison between the tenant(s) and the landlord.
Responsibilities: ensuring building capacity accommodates the number of people who live or work on the premises; enforces rentals (if applicable) and manages the building’s budget; interviewing tenants and running credit checks.
Salary range: Approximately $53,683 a year according to Glassdoor.
A maintenance technician working closely with the facility manager, corrects equipment defects and repairs mechanical or electrical problems within a building. A maintenance technician’s services can extend from changing a light bulb to calibrating machinery, and include other tasks that target repairs or part replacement.
Responsibilities: resolving issues with machinery or infrastructure; assisting with installation of new equipment; equipment calibration; taking preventive maintenance steps to prevent machine downtime; maintaining logs of equipment history and breakdowns; conducting building walkthroughs.
Salary range: Approximately $39,995 a year according to Glassdoor.
- Large Commercial Buildings—offices require functional equipment and smooth operations to run as efficiently as possible. Any piece of equipment that needs scheduled or routine maintenance falls within the realm of facility maintenance. Ensuring that essential machinery is fully-functional provides a more comfortable and productive work environment for personnel.
- Hospitals—due to the numerous operations that a hospital environment provides each day— not to mention its sheer size—facility maintenance is extremely beneficial for ensuring the building remains compliant with OSHA’s sanitation and safety guidelines. Facility maintenance also focuses on certain preventive maintenance actions in a hospital, such as scheduling inspections for imaging equipment.
- Universities—like hospitals, universities are large in scale. With so many separate buildings and facilities on campus, facility maintenance is crucial for keeping faculty, staff, and students comfortable and safe. Some areas of focus might include pest control, organization and replacement of classroom furniture and equipment, and overseeing routine painting of public and common areas.
- Warehouses— warehouses and distribution centers contains many large pieces of equipment such as forklifts, conveyors, pallet jacks, and more that are all handled in-house. With so many equipment, facility maintenance is crucial to keep these equipment up and running and minimize down to ensure that the warehouse is able to maximize fulfillment.
It’s generally not required for facility professionals to have a college degree. Those who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and have gone on to work in facility management typically majored in field such as business, engineering, facility management, or information management.
No matter what your background may be, if you’re interested in applying for a facility maintenance position, there are several certification options you can invest in to make yourself a more competitive applicant. You should know that the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) recognizes two types of certifications: the Facility Management Professional certification, and the Certified Facility Managers credential.
Here’s some more information for you to consider:
The Facility Management Professional Certificate Program, supplied by the IFMA, is a strong option for those who have little to no prior training or knowledge about facility maintenance. You don’t need any prerequisites to sign up, and the enrollment fee starts at just $515 USD. Note that costs vary based upon background.
The Certified Facility Manager credential is among the most prestigious certification programs available. According to the IFMA website, it’s “the industry standard in facility maintenance certification.” This credential entails applying for and taking an exam to test your expertise in 11 core competencies of facility maintenance. Cost starts at $550 USD for IFMA members, or $815 for non-members.
The Facilities Management Certificate is a training program that provides insider knowledge about running a facility efficiently. Courses include Fundamentals of Facilities Management, as well as Design, Operation, and Maintenance of Building Systems Parts 1 & 2. This flexible, self-paced program is priced at just $225. While this certification provides a budget-friendly option for improving your facility maintenance expertise, bear in mind that its provider (BOMI) does not carry the same prestige as credentials from the IFMA.
Depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish with your certification or credential, and how important cost is to you, these are just a few possible options to get you started on your journey toward becoming a facility maintenance professional.
HVAC certifications vary by state, some states require technicians to become licensed by passing exams. The best way to figure out what certifications and licenses you need is to search “[your state] + HVAC license regulations” on Google or click your state on this map.