By Jim Streeter, Director, Professional Services, VFA, Inc.

The Great Central U.S. Shakeout took place on April 28, 2011. Over three million people took part in this first multistate public earthquake drill, and the first drill in the central U.S., where many states would be impacted if a major earthquake hit the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

In his April 25th report on the effectiveness of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), Chris Poland, Chair, Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction, commented that, “Earthquakes over the past 16 months in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, and Japan graphically remind us of the devastating impact earthquakes can have on the lives and economic stability of millions of people worldwide.”

One of the many challenges facility professionals have is identifying and addressing the vulnerabilities and consequences of seismic activity. The structural integrity of a building is usually the first consideration when preparing for earthquakes, but surprisingly, it is often the non-structural components – basically, everything except columns, floors and beams – that render facilities unusable and are associated with the greatest level of damage. As outlined by the US Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the risk associated with earthquake damage to nonstructural components includes life safety, property loss, and interruption or loss of essential functions.

From saving lives to minimizing the interruption of business to reconstruction dollars saved, understanding the seismic risk in a facility portfolio is the first major step towards being prepared. What are you doing to address seismic risk?

The Leader

By Ameeta Soni, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, VFA, Inc.

The new Green Ribbon Schools program from the U.S. Department of Education, which will recognize schools for energy conservation, creating healthy learning spaces, and teaching environmental literacy, is a great step in encouraging schools across the country to become more sustainable, especially with tight budgets and the need for increased efficiency.

The many potential green building initiatives a school can undertake compete for budget with other capital projects, including renovations and new construction. While schools may single out opportunities to improve sustainability, realistically, those investments will need to be considered in the context of other needs.

With the right framework and tools in place, schools can:

  • Evaluate the sustainability of their existing facilities
  • Reduce their environmental impact
  • Increase their energy efficiency and cost savings
  • Promote a healthier environment

Whether a school already has a sophisticated sustainability program or is newly engaged in this effort, it’s important to evaluate and prioritize green options while remaining aligned with the overall educational mission.

VFA’s Software Solutions Enable NM-PSFA to Collect Facility Condition and Educational Adequacy Data and Create Defensible Budget Priorities

BOSTON—May 17, 2011—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that the New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority (NM-PSFA) has chosen VFA.facility®, VFA’s capital planning and management software solution, and VFA.auditor®, a Web-based guided self-assessment survey, to manage information about its facility assets – including 89 school districts and state-chartered charter schools made up of 795 separate schools with 4,700 buildings and approximately 60 million square feet of space. Today, NM-PSFA is able to quickly and easily obtain consistent, defensible data to create a statewide ranked list of facility needs, as well as to provide intelligible reports to schools.

NM-PSFA’s weighted New Mexico Condition Index (wNMCI) takes into consideration facility condition, educational adequacy, and key priorities such as life, health and safety, and is the metric by which all schools are compared. This model, widely regarded as a national best practice, is the primary tool used to allocate state capital funding to school facilities needs. Using VFA’s software solutions, NM-PSFA is able to calculate the wNMCI and rapidly produce a prioritized list of objectively-determined facility needs.

Reporting to schools regarding their ranking and the calculations behind it presented a significant challenge. The Executive Summary Report, formerly difficult to produce and confusing to stakeholders, can now be readily produced in VFA.facility and provides all data and calculations for a particular school or district in a format that is easy to understand and interpret. Using VFA.auditor, NM-PSFA staff can now complete building surveys on their own and upload reliable, error-free data to the system.

“The implementation process with VFA was smooth, professional and rapid, and we’ve found that the VFA solution exceeds the criteria that we established,” said Bob Gorrell, Director, New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority. “NM-PSFA is confident that its new facilities assessment system will deliver a higher level of capability, while providing key policymakers and stakeholders with better, more actionable information as they partner with New Mexico’s communities in providing quality, sustainable school facilities for students and educators.”

“Public school systems face many unique challenges in managing and planning for their facilities. Most school systems have funding constraints that force difficult decisions and tradeoffs regarding maintenance, renewal, and functional adequacy,” said Jerry Kokos, CEO, VFA, Inc. “VFA is pleased to work in partnership with the NM-PSFA team to assist in their mission on behalf of public education in New Mexico.”


Dates: July 17 – 20, 2011
Expo Open: Monday 10:45 am – 1:45 pm, Tuesday 10:45 am – 1:45 pm
Venue: Washington State Convention Center
Seattle, WA

Come and see us at Booth #523!


Dates: Saturday, July 16 – Monday, July 18, 2011
Expo Open: Saturday 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, Sunday 10:30 am – 1:30 pm
Venue: Hilton Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

Stop by our booth!

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Time: 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Location: Available via Webex

In today’s economic climate, accurate and comprehensive information about the total asset portfolio, the true costs of capital requirements, and the impact of funding decisions is critical to an agency’s ability to optimize its investments, whether for repair, renovation or renewal of assets.

Employing a guided self-assessment process, whether it’s a complement to a professional assessment or an alternative approach to capturing asset data, provides organizations with efficient and cost-effective options to best address facility condition assessments.

Join us to learn the data management best practices other federal agencies are using to collect and analyze data. We’ll show you an exclusive look at how VFA.auditor, a guided self-assessment solution with mobile support, is transforming the way facility managers and capital planners are utilizing software solutions to optimize the management of capital investments.

In this complimentary webinar, you will learn how facility guided mobile self-assessments:

  • Provide the flexibility to reach more isolated and geographically disperse assets
  • Reduce paper dependency and improve process efficiency
  • Deliver real-time data capture that accelerates collection speed
  • Eliminate redundant data entry
  • Improve accuracy by eradicating transcription errors
  • Leverage prolific, low-cost mobile device technology

Scott Cormier, Director, Product Management, VFA, Inc.
Lee Kaufman, SVP, Professional Services, VFA, Inc.

By Ameeta Soni, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, VFA, Inc.

Our annual customer conference, VFA Connections, was once again a success, with capital planning and management professionals from across North America gathering for great conversations and learning.

Some of the key lessons learned during these two days of presentations and networking include:

  • It’s not about the buildings – it’s about solutions
  • Capital investments must have a direct link to strategic and business goals
  • Accurate, objective, defensible data helps get funding

We look forward to continuing the conversation on our blog, Twitter and LinkedIn. Join us!