The recent water main breakage in Los Angeles shines a spotlight on a problem that all too many Universities face: the risk of critical but aging infrastructure failing suddenly.  While not all failures may be as spectacular as several feet of water flooding streets and campus landmarks, the impact of key electrical, mechanical, plumbing, communication or power plant failures can be far reaching, more so even than the failure of individual buildings.  The impact of such failures goes far beyond the immediate disruption of normal operations, opening Universities to the risks of legal claims, increased insurance premiums, fines, expensive repairs, and the “collateral damage” often caused by these unforeseen catastrophes – relocating people, finding alternate facilities to continue operations, replacing damaged/destroyed vehicles, and so on. These failures can also potentially damage the institution’s image.

“Much of the piping that carries drinking water in the country dates to the first half of the 20th century, with some installed before Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House.”  [ Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/ucla-wades-damages-pipe-flooding-24767644 ]

More and more Universities are proactively addressing the issue of critical but aging infrastructure.  Often led by both their Risk and Facilities Management Organizations, their first step is to understand and quantify their highest areas of risk through on-site assessment by skilled specialists. They seek to answer the questions ‘Where are the issues?’ and ‘What is the impact of a failure?’  Their second step is to model different strategies for using their limited capital resources to remediate the underlying issues, taking into account the tradeoffs this may require with existing and planned capital projects.  The final step is to gain consensus among multiple constituencies, including the communities where the Universities are located, to propose, approve, and begin implementing what will inevitably be a multi-year approach to addressing the issue.


Building Services Management

VFA Helps Healthcare Organizations to Ensure Their Facilities Deliver the Highest Standard of Patient Care

BOSTON—August 1, 2014—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it is featuring solutions that enable healthcare organizations to manage their facilities strategically at the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition, August 3-6, 2014 in Chicago. VFA will be exhibiting in Booth 725.

VFA has shown hundreds of hospitals, health networks and government health agencies how to ensure that their facilities support the highest standard of patient care. Facility condition data, gathered by expert assessors, coupled with the analytical tools in VFA.facility® capital planning and management software provides healthcare organizations with the ability to create effective long-term capital plans, projects and budgets.

VFA has provided data and insight into the condition of over a thousand healthcare facilities, enabling them to manage risk, uncover opportunities for cost savings, positively impact the patient experience, and better serve the healthcare mission.

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.


Huh? Get your questions answered!

Get answers to your specific questions from both VFA experts and your peers. You can also answer VFA’s questions about what features are most valuable to you as well as provide feedback on future enhancements. We have questions for you, too!

Networking Opportunities

Have you met Bob? Networking!

Grow your circle with our networking opportunities. Talk to other professionals in your industry about solutions to common problems and software features that you find valuable. You can always keep in touch and extend your online network via the VFA LinkedIn Forum.


Wait, how’d you do that? Get a demo!

Sometimes it’s easier to learn in person. Grab a front row seat in our demo room and see the software in action. Ask questions along the way and chat with your demo neighbor about potential uses for our new features.  We incorporate your feedback every year to make sure the demo sessions meet your needs.

Customer Appreciation

It’s Customer Appreciation Day!

In addition to providing valuable content to our customers, the User Forum is also a way that we at VFA like to show our customer appreciation. And who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? Our Wednesday night reception at the Butchart Botanical Gardens is a great time to share the love while also sharing some food, drinks and stories from the past year. Explore the amazing gardens and appreciate the natural environment of Victoria.


Photo Credit: Tourism Victoria

So much to see and do in beautiful Victoria!

  • The Royal BC Museum – A stone’s throw from the Fairmont Empress, this museum features exhibitions on the Vikings, The Great War, both Natural and Human history collections, and an IMAX theater.
  • The Maritime Museum of B.C. – Victoria is rich in maritime history. Learn about pirates, shipwrecks and explore the museum’s featured exhibits, including ‘Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland.’
  • Chinatown Walks – take a walking tour of the oldest Chinatown in Canada.
  • Bastion Square – Located in the heart of downtown Victoria, this square features several restaurants, cafes, and a public market Thursday through Saturday.
  • Whale Watches – Go on a guided marine adventure and explore the natural wildlife of Victoria’s waters, including 3 pods of resident orcas totaling over 80 whales.

Now that you’re convinced…

Visit our Justify Your Trip page to convince your manager!

Ready to sign up? Register for the User Forum 2014

As reported on CBS Evening News by Jeff Pegues

“A recent audit has found that the federal government continues to own and maintain 77,000 empty buildings, costing taxpayers $1.5 billion per year in electric bills, roof repairs and other monthly costs.“

What’s in my portfolio?

That expression ‘knowing is half the battle’ is true in this case for the GSA. They know they have 77,000 empty buildings and that some of those buildings could generate much needed revenue if sold. Wrapping your brain around the size and contents of your portfolio is a great place to start developing a strategic capital planning program. Many of our facility condition assessment customers are surprised to find assets they never knew existed as a result of one of our audits.

‘Good condition’ doesn’t always match reality.

As Dan Tangherlini of the GSA points out, what may be labeled ‘good condition’ on paper might actually be in not so good condition in reality. It’s important to create a definition of what ‘good’ is within your organization and this can vary widely across different industries. The definition of good can also vary widely within your portfolio. For example, if you have buildings that are customer facing and others that are not, you may want to treat those buildings differently. Using the facility condition index is a great way of assigning an overall grade to your portfolio and it’s also a way of setting a numeric goal for the overall condition of your buildings.

“$1 of deferred maintenance generally turns into $4 of capital reinvestment…”

Facility managers continually balance budgeted projects with unplanned expenditures. It can be hard to plan spending for 5, 10 or even 15 years down the road, even though that may mean you will ultimately spend more because of this. This is where strategic facility managers can take advantage of facilities capital planning software and planning tools to help them map out the funds needed to maintain their facilities long-term. Robust reporting tools can also enable facility managers to create well supported funding requests and communicate facilities goals to internal stakeholders.

gsa-empty-buidlingLessons Learned

The key to moving forward for the GSA and for any organization with a large real estate portfolio is to take the steps necessary to strategically address their buildings. How can you do this?

  • Know what’s in your portfolio.
  • Know what condition your buildings are in and what the definition of ‘good condition’ means to your organization.
  • Know how to prioritize your spending and make data driven decisions on what to repair, divest, demolish, and so on.

Find out more about how you can get started with your strategic capital planning program.

VFA.facility and FacilityView Product News

VFA.facility® 10.5.3

  • Updates to Set Up Instructions
    • Supported Versions of Internet Explorer Set up instructions have been updated for the currently supported versions of Internet Explorer, IE 10 and 11.
    • FacilityView Supported Browsers Information on supported browsers for FacilityView has been added to the VFA.facility set up instructions.
  • Automatic Population of Asset Map Longitude and Latitude
    • If an Asset has a mappable address, then it’s “Map Latitude” and “Map Longitude” fields will be automatically updated when the address is entered.

    Asset Map Coordinates

  • Mapping and Reporting on Multiple Network Levels
    • In the Network Manager “Map” tab, you may optionally view a map including all Assets at the selected Network level as well as any levels below. Note that any report you generate includes all Assets in all levels of a Network.


VFA FacilityView™ 1.1.4

  • Nightly Downtime Minimized
    • Each client’s FacilityView site is unavailable only during the period updates are being applied for that site. For the average site, this period will be less than 10 minutes. Site updates begin at 11 pm Eastern.
  • Update Alert Message
    •  If a user tries to access their FacilityView site when the nightly update is running, they will be alerted that the update is in process (rather than simply being unable to log in).

For more details about the features listed above, check out What’s New in VFA.facility 10.5.3 (PDF).



VFA Enables Educational Institutions and Public School Systems to Plan for Future Needs

BOSTON—July 21, 2014—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it is featuring solutions that enable educational institutions and public school systems to manage their facilities strategically at the 2014 APPA Annual Conference and Exhibition, July 21-23, 2014 in San Diego. VFA will be exhibiting in Booth 412.

VFA has helped hundreds of higher educational institutions, from state university systems to private colleges, as well as public schools systems, to maximize their current investment in facilities and infrastructure while effectively planning for future needs. Universities, colleges and public schools need to demonstrate the need for funding and create capital budgets based on accurate, objective data.

VFA offers facility managers an efficient and cost-effective way to gather reliable facility condition data across campus facilities with its facility self-assessment solution, VFA.auditor®, which allows schools to perform their own condition assessments using mobile tablets. Schools can manage this information with VFA.facility® capital planning and management software to create effective long-term capital plans, projects and budgets.

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

tradeshow-badge-small We’ll be seeing you!
VFA will be attending several events this summer and fall. Check out our Events Calendar to see if we’ll be at an event in your area soon!

Upcoming Events:

  • APPA Annual Conference – July 21 – 23, San Diego
  • ASHE – August 3 – 6, Chicago
  • MAPPA 2014 Conference – September 16 – 20, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

VFA Victoria User Forum & Networking Event 2014
September 23 – 25, Victoria, BC
Don’t miss this chance to engage with VFA staff and your peers to get the most out of your VFA products and services. Learn more and register.

Buildings Magazine