By Anne Cosgrove
From the February 2019 Issue
Delivering effective solutions for facility operations and maintenance is a balancing act in any environment. And, in healthcare, it’s a crucial task. At the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore, MD, energy improvements, skilled facilities staff, and regulatory compliance are among the daily and long-term goals for the facilities department. At the helm of this charge for operations and maintenance is Richie Stever, CLSS-HC, CHFM, LEED AP. As director of operations and maintenance for UMMC since 2015, Stever is responsible for the maintenance and repair of utility systems, equipment, and furniture and finishes for two medical facilities in the city.
Located in downtown Baltimore, UMMC is the flagship of the University of Maryland Medical System. Built in 1937, the facility is a 800-bed teaching hospital comprising 2.5 million square feet. Its campus also includes two medical buildings and a parking garage. One mile away is the UMMC Midtown Campus, a 200-bed community hospital consisting of one million square feet.
In his work, Stever has spearheaded energy improvements aimed at reducing energy use at the hospital by 20% by 2022 (compared to a 2012 baseline). These efforts are based on UMMC’s participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy. And he’s worked to strengthen the future of his department and, thus, UMMC by creating an apprenticeship program to develop talent that will fill vacancies left by retiring members of his department.
In concert with two facility managers—one at each location, Stever manages 65 full-time employees. Robert Baldwin oversees the UMMC downtown site, and Jonathan Jewett heads up the UMMC Midtown Campus. Stever makes it clear that operations and maintenance at UMMC is a team effort, and that the strides made in recent years have been propelled by that teamwork. “We have two excellent teams that work extremely hard to keep the equipment highly reliable,” he says. “I remove roadblocks so the maintenance team can be successful.”
Still, Stever recognized a staffing issue that many organizations across all sectors are facing—loss of experienced technicians due to retirement. In the facility management profession, it’s been recognized that a shortage of talent exists. And, fostering the next generation of facilities professionals and technicians has become a focus of associations, education programs, and even the organizations themselves that will be hiring the talent. UMMC fits into that last category, having created a Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Program, which launched in 2014.
For his work to create this professional development program, results achieved to date, and energy improvements throughout his facilities, Stever is recognized as this magazine’s 2019 Facility Executive of the Year.
Maintaining Staff For Facilities, And The Future
Recognizing that more than a quarter of his staff was nearing retirement, Stever began considering how to fill the talent gap that would occur. Specific areas identified with the most pressing need included building automation, HVAC, and plumbing. In the absence of programs specifically training for the skills needed, Stever set out to create what is now the Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Program.
“The divide between the HVAC technicians and the building automation system technology was rapidly expanding,” explains Stever, “and we knew we needed to create an internal position to bridge that gap. We developed the building automation apprentice job description. Meanwhile, we recognized that the plumbing and HVAC skills necessary to be successful in the healthcare environment are different from what the job market offered. There is a long learning curve in each trade. Finally, it is difficult to find Grade 1 Stationary Engineers to run the high-pressure boilers.” (The most recent addition to the program is a stationary engineer apprenticeship.)
Through the program, UMMC funds four years of schooling and provides a full-time job, which partners apprentices with journeymen on the staff. Curriculum for the educational piece is provided by various partners in the community and industry.
2019 Winner Profile
Overview: Energy efficiency projects to reduce energy use intensity 20% by 2022, based on 2012 baseline. Creating apprenticeship programs to help fill organization’s facilities technician positions.
Type of Facilities: Healthcare; two hospital facilities in Baltimore, MD
Square Footage: 3.5 million
Annual Budget: $24.7 million total ($14.8 million for energy)
To widen the field, the program does not require applicants to possess the technical skills needed for a position. These skills will be gained through the training. Rather, in addition to having a high school diploma or equivalent, and passing a medical screening, the applicants are evaluated on a broader range of characteristics.
Currently, there are four apprentices working at UMMC. The first was hired in August 2015 for the Building Automation Apprentice position, and UMMC is the sponsor. For this position, the medical center partnered with Automated Logic, Pevco, and Community College of Baltimore County. To create the curriculum, “we partnered with the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) to develop this apprenticeship,” explains Stever.
In September 2016, the program’s second hire was a Plumbing Apprentice, followed by a HVAC Apprentice. The program sponsor for plumbing is the Maryland Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. For the HVAC Apprentice position, the partner is Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)-Baltimore Metro Chapter.
In March 2018, an Electronics Apprentice, also sponsored by ABC-Baltimore Metro Chapter, was brought on board. This individual’s work includes pneumatic tube systems, fire alarm and suppression systems, and synchronized clocks.
The newest addition to the program is for a Stationary Engineer Apprentice. Sponsors of this position are the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office and Maryland DLLR, with Baltimore City Community College as the education partner.
This latest program addition includes participation by other community members, including Baltimore City Convention Center, Baltimore City of Public Works, Johns Hopkins University, Under Armour, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Veolia North America. As these and other organizations become involved in UMMC’s Skilled Trade Apprenticeship Program, it is evident that the program is helping to fill a need in the larger community.
Pursuing Energy Efficient Operation
In facility management, people drive results, and as the apprenticeship program continues to develop, UMMC operations will no doubt benefit. Of course, efficient equipment also powers efficient facility operations. Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative, UMMC is committed to reducing energy use intensity by 20% by 2022 (from a 2012 baseline). This initiative, focused on the downtown facility, has impacted myriad areas of the site through lighting, HVAC, and water conservation measures.
Recent lighting projects included converting the atriums at UMMC to employ daylight harvesting using one photocell each. “This delivered high impact with immediate savings,” notes Stever. “A lesson learned was we didn’t anticipate the number of relays needed to switch all of the lighting circuits. From this project we changed our standard to LED lighting, and then began stocking direct replacement LEDs instead of fluorescent.”
Another significant energy improvement was the addition of two heat recovery chillers and associated heat exchangers which preheat domestic hot water and heating water, thereby reducing steam usage. “The new chillers are much quieter, smaller than old chillers and use less energy,” explains Stever.
Since early 2018, when the UMMC Midtown Campus came under his purview, Stever has focused on unifying operational approaches for this and the downtown campus. And this includes introducing systems to the midtown location that were in place and delivering efficiencies for the downtown facility. One area identified for improvement at the midtown site was storage of parts and materials that his staff had access to. These parts and materials—more than 2,400 items—were spread around the hospital in different spaces.
Stever and his team identified underutilized space in the physical plant and converted it to a storeroom where the 2,400+ items would be housed together. “We installed high density shelving and kanban bins,” explains Stever. “All parts and materials were brought into this space and organized. Establishing the storeroom improves labor efficiency and reduces expenses since we are not over ordering.”
Stever also explains that the single bin kanban system used in the new storeroom provides a visual indication for reorder. When a minimum par is reached, technicians turn the bin around, from blue to orange, to indicate it is time to reorder that item.
When asked what drives him, Stever points to driving efficiency, solving problems, and helping people. Drawing on past experience, he combines soft skills like communication and team building, with formal training that includes relevant healthcare certifications and other facility management credentials. Meanwhile, he is currently earning a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration.
The mission at UMMC is “delivering superior health care, training the next generation of health professionals, and discovering ways to improve health outcomes worldwide.” With Stever and his team making strides with their work in operations and maintenance, the UMMC facilities are well-positioned to help support that vision.
Product & Services Information
Building Automation: AutomatedLogic, Siemens. Energy Services: Direct Energy, Baltimore Gas & Electric. Electrical Services: ABM. Fire Equipment/Services: B&C Incorporated, BFPE International, Decosta Construction Specialties, Fire Door Solutions, Koffel Associates, Simplex. HVAC Equipment/Services: American Air Filter Company, BL Kelly Mechanical, Inc., Carrier, Shannon Enterprises, Total Boiler Control, Veolia. Doors: ASSA ABLOY, Carolina Door. Elevators: Otis Elevator Company. Water Treatment: Barclay Water Management. Other Suppliers/Services: AAC Independent, Alban CAT, Best Plumbing Specialties, Ferguson Enterprises, Fidelity Engineering, Grainger.
Cosgrove is Editor-in-Chief of Facility Executive magazine. Learn more about UMMC by visiting www.umms.org/ummc. Have a facility management leader to nominate for the 2020 award? Visit www.FacilityExecutive.com/FEY2020 to learn more.
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