Area Development Online

By Ameeta Soni

Last week, I attended the 23rd Annual Real Property National Workshop at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It was a terrific event, and I was particularly pleased to see the Real Property Institute of Canada recognize the Ontario University System with an award in the “Best Practices in Service Excellence” category.

The Ontario University System, which includes 19 institutions and more than 6.5 million square metres of facilities, put in place a single, consistent method for assessing the condition of its facilities. Today, they can make capital planning decisions and have confidence in the supporting data and, therefore, the objectivity of the resulting decisions.

At many other universities and colleges across Canada, a new generation of executives is tackling the issue of how to modernize and improve facilities in order to support educational goals without breaking the bank. Some are grappling with fallout from funding reductions in the 1990s and others were hit by cuts stemming from the soft economy. Now, many have arrived at the point where they can’t continue to postpone substantial improvements to facilities because doing so may compromise their core mission.

The Canadian Association of University Business Officers has its own Facilities Management Committee. That group finds that “things like deferred maintenance, escalating construction costs, shortage of trades” and other related factors may start to affect “student recruitment and retention.” Clearly, in order to support the education mission,  they need to secure more funding for deferred maintenance.

Ironically, the institutions that have put off making investments in their facilities have been precisely the ones that could expect to receive the most money in financial assistance. But today, there’s a growing understanding that such a model is unsustainable. The alternative is for governments to promote the development of long-term capital plans for university and college facilities.

U.S. and U.K. universities face a parallel challenge with deferred maintenance. If you’re contending with this issue, how are you addressing it?

University Consortium Honored by the Real Property Institute of Canada

BURNABY, B.C.—November 29, 2010—VFA Canada Corporation, the leading Canadian provider of solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that its client, the Ontario University System, has been named a winner of the Real Property Institute of Canada’s Real Property Awards, which honor innovation, achievement, quality and leadership in the real property community. The Ontario University System is being recognized in the “Best Practices in Service Excellence” category, having determined that with an aging infrastructure and a growing deferred maintenance backlog, they needed to develop long-term facility capital plans for each of the universities as well as for the System as a whole.   

The Ontario University System is comprised of 19 universities across the province, including schools such as Carleton University, University of Guelph, Queen’s University and the University of Toronto, with a total of 357,000 full-time students. The entire System encompasses over 70 million square feet of facilities, with a current replacement value of approximately $20 billion.  49% of the System’s funding comes from the provincial government.

The Ontario University System implemented a Facility Condition Assessment Program (FCAP) as part of an integrated Capital Planning and Management Solution (CPMS) from VFA Canada. Each of the system’s universities assessed a portion of its building portfolio each year and captured this information within VFA.facility®, a central database and decision support tool for managing and analyzing facility information. Initiated in 2001, the VFA system provided objective data which was used to obtain $93 million in deferred maintenance funding by the Ontario government in 2003, an increase of $40 million over previous years, and has resulted in an average increase of $80 million annually since then.

“VFA Canada began working with the Ontario University System to provide consistent and comprehensive facilities data to the Ontario University presidents, governing boards and the provincial government—while delivering best practice facility management tools to the universities’ facilities departments,” said Susan Anson, general manager of VFA Canada Corporation. “We are very pleased that these efforts have been successful, and that the Ontario University System’s work with our company serves as a model for other Canadian institutions looking to develop long-term facility capital plans.”

The results of this year’s Real Property Awards were announced at the 23rd Annual Real Property National Workshop at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (November 23 – 25, 2010).

By Keith O’Leary

Today, everyone’s got an eye on healthcare costs—pricey new therapies, medical malpractice lawsuits and concerns over caring for aging baby boomers are constantly in the news. In fact, the New York Times has just offered up a “Budget Puzzle” that lets readers make deep cuts in federal spending. In just a few minutes, you’ll see just how quickly you can balance the U.S. budget if you get healthcare costs in line.

Compare the constantly escalating costs of healthcare delivery with the healthcare facilities picture. One-third of hospital CFOs reported to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) that their buildings were in worse physical condition now that they were 10 years ago, and nearly half said that their infrastructures were deteriorating faster than they could make capital improvements.

The problem, in part, has been that healthcare systems have been consolidating while taking in more patients—a recipe for wear and tear. At the same time, budgets have been underfunded because healthcare delivery has become enormously competitive and often bottom-line focused.

Now, while many healthcare providers are finally able to make the capital planning decisions required to increase the physical size of their facilities and to accommodate technology upgrades, the capital spending growth rate still lags the total operating expense growth rate for most healthcare providers. In other words, providers are spending more money, but they’re not increasing their budgets to grow and maintain their facilities in a proportionate manner.  But some health systems, like Wellmont Health, which spends $30 to $40 million each year on 1.3 million square feet of facilities, have their capital spending under control and are able to fearlessly take on multi-year projects.

What’s your take on trends in healthcare capital spending—have you got a solution in place to understand and control costs?

Online Webinar via WebEx
2 pm ET

During this webinar you’ll learn hear how healthcare facilities to decrease the cost of collecting quality facility data down to 1.5 cents per square foot while making credible and effective priority and budget decisions. At the very least, you will learn how others are getting it done.

By Larry Norve, Director of Professional Services

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
– George Washington, first annual address to Congress, 1790.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of the U.S. military is the Pentagon. And, ensuring the health of this building (essentially the largest office building in the world) is an important task that takes a lot of preparation and forethought.

The Pentagon is maintained by Washington Headquarters Services (WHS), which supports more than 8.5 million square feet of facilities – including support buildings, outside areas and the Pentagon Memorial. All military branches and the Department of Defense are housed within the campus, and the Pentagon is basically a self-contained universe – with restaurants, a post office, CVS, Best Buy, a dry cleaners and an athletic center. In general, the Pentagon buildings are in good condition because unsatisfactory facility conditions within the structure can seriously impair the performance of the Department of Defense (DoD) mission.

Like in any other office building, facility managers need to maintain accurate data on the current condition of the Pentagon’s facilities and its associated systems – allowing for long-term planning and bringing the Pentagon up to modern building standards and codes. However, some of the challenges facing the Pentagon are security, access, timing of repairs, types of space, and size. To combat these issues, WHS requires objective facility condition data in order to develop capital plans and projects – and maintain current funding levels which will help to prevent the deterioration of the facility assets. Facilities capital planning and management is critical to an organization of this size, providing the ability to spend valuable funds on the right projects and avoid costly downtime due to emergency repairs.

VFA is helping to conduct a facility condition assessment (FCA) for the Pentagon over a five-year period, as well as providing related consulting services for prioritization and project planning. The FCA includes identification of immediate and long-term cost liabilities for deferred maintenance, building component lifecycle renewal, code compliance and functional inadequacies. VFA is documenting current building deficiencies, advising of corrective actions, and estimating the associated cost for repair, renewal and code compliance.

Something that all facility managers need to consider is how they can determine where building systems are in their lifecycle so that they may keep the newly renovated and modernized areas of the building compliant with current codes. In the Pentagon’s large-scale case, this has allowed the facility to identify short-term maintenance requirements and to track new codes for upcoming projects.

The United States celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, honoring more than 24.9 million military veterans. VFA and a host of other organizations continue to honor these veterans by helping to support the mission of the Pentagon, this critical building at the heart of the military, by maintaining satisfactory facility conditions and developing a five-year capital plan. For other examples of how Federal buildings can optimize their investments in their facilities and manage large, dispersed facility portfolios, please visit VFA’s Federal Market overview.

For more information about VFA’s work with the Pentagon, please see the article appearing in the September/October 2010 issue of Military Engineer (page 69).

Image of Pentagon, Birds-Eye

Pentagon from the Sky

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Manchester Conference Centre
Sackville St

Using eight evidence based case studies, you will succinct and unambiguous solutions on how to get more for less from contracted maintenance, benefit from lean principles and create energy efficiencies. In a highly focused 20-minute presentation, speakers will offer solutions to a tricky set of questions, followed by 20 minutes for discussion between the audience and speaker panel.

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Caledonian Club
London SW1

Using eight evidence based case studies, you will succinct and unambiguous solutions on how to get more for less from contracted maintenance, benefit from lean principles and create energy efficiencies. In a highly focused 20-minute presentation, speakers will offer solutions to a tricky set of questions, followed by 20 minutes for discussion between the audience and speaker panel.

Welcome to Foundations, the official VFA blog. For those of you who don’t know us yet, VFA is the leading provider of integrated software and services for facilities asset management, facilities capital planning and capital spend management. Organizations in a wide range of industries rely on VFA solutions to help them strategically manage their facility assets and maximize the value of their capital investments.

VFA encourages learning and growth, both individually and as a company, and strives to provide the best solutions for our clients to ensure that they achieve their mission. We named our blog “Foundations” because our goal is to provide information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent capital spending and facilities capital planning and management.

With that in mind, we’ll use this space to help you to stay up-to-date on the latest information industry-wide posted by the VFA team. You’ll learn about new products and services, interesting customer use cases in the government, education, healthcare, financial and corporate sectors, upcoming webinars and live events, and more.

Please also stay tuned for new whitepapers and other information to help accelerate your facilities planning and capital management knowledge. We’ll frequently post tips and best practices, as well as spotlight helpful resources to help your business meet its challenges, such as these:

Expect to see posts from a variety of people on our team, including Ameeta Soni and Keith O’Leary. Sometimes the posts will be informal and brief; sometimes they will be more structured. We hope you’ll find all of them useful.

Ameeta Soni

Ameeta Soni

As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Ameeta leads strategic planning, marketing and business development at VFA. In addition, she is responsible for the company’s sustainability solutions business. She has more than 20 years of marketing and business development experience, and has been instrumental in the success of many new technology ventures.

Keith O'Leary

Keith O'Leary

As Director of Product Marketing and Management for VFA.spendManager, Keith O’Leary is responsible for VFA’s capital spend management software. Keith has 17 years of technical product marketing and management experience with enterprise software systems.

Enjoy, and please visit often to learn about facility planning and capital management trends.You can also subscribe to our RSS feed. We are looking forward to your comments and your feedback.

Happy reading!