Facility audits require time, energy, expertise and, therefore, resources.
Although performing a comprehensive and accurate audit will not be cheap,
it is economical all the same because it is a necessary step in the effective
and efficient management of school facilities.
Things change. It is a fact of life and of school facilities maintenance planning. The luster of new buildings and equipment are sure to fade over time. And as facilities age, their condition changes as well. But change isn't always a bad thing. For example, a two-year-old air-handling system might perform better than a new system because its operators have had 24 months to learn how to use it and "get out the kinks." Of course, this assumes that the operators have maintained the equipment responsibly along the way-changing filters and belts as needed. If, however, the same air handler is operating well after 10 years of service, it is safe to assume that more extensive maintenance efforts have been undertaken-valves and gaskets will have been replaced and the compressor pump serviced (probably more than once).
Because the definition of what constitutes "proper maintenance" changes over the life of the equipment or building, knowing the age and condition of a facility or piece of equipment is a prerequisite for maintaining it properly. Otherwise, maintenance efforts are a hit-or-miss situation-some things only get fixed when they break while others get "maintained" on a routine basis whether they need it or not. When an education organization knows the status of its facilities and equipment, the need for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades becomes much clearer-after all, it is tough to argue against good data!
Note that factors such as location (in or out of direct sunlight), environmental conditions (humid or dry air), and actual use (as opposed to recommended use) can greatly affect the expected service life of equipment.
LifeCycle Costs: More Than Just the Sticker Price
The initial cost to construct a building typically represents only a small portion of the actual cost to own the facility over its lifetime.
Source: HVAC Applications (1999) American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning, Atlanta, GA.
A facility audit (or inventory) is a comprehensive review of a facility's assets. Facility audits are a standard method for establishing baseline information about the components, policies, and procedures of a new or existing facility. An audit is a way of determining the "status" of the facility at a given time-that is, it provides a snapshot of how the various systems and components are operating. A primary objective of a facility audit is to measure the value of an aging asset relative to the cost of replacing that asset. Thus, facilities audits are a tool for projecting future maintenance costs.
Facilities audits are accomplished by assessing buildings, grounds, and equipment, documenting the findings, and recommending service options to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and save money. Thus, an audit provides the landscape against which all facilities maintenance efforts and planning occur.
Facility audits should be a routine part of the facilities maintenance program. However, they are often precipitated by the information needs of upper management, taxpayers and voters, and legislative or regulatory bodies. By integrating the findings of annual audits over time, planners can ascertain realized (versus expected) product life cycles, the impact of various maintenance strategies and efforts on product life cycles, and the future demands the aging process might place on the infrastructure of a school district. This information can be used to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of facility use and maintenance efforts in the future.