School District Finds Continuous Improvement

Tackling deferred maintenance, energy costs, and staff training are cornerstones of the facilities department in Manchester, NH.

By Anne Cosgrove
From the April 2017 Issue

Ensuring that K-12 facilities are operated and maintained safely and efficiently is a top concern for the facility professionals who oversee education buildings. In the City of Manchester, NH, Kevin O’Maley, chief facilities manager there until late 2016, enacted significant improvements impacting the 22 buildings in the school district. During his seven year tenure heading up the city’s Facilities department for Manchester, O’Maley led the charge for addressing deferred maintenance, lowering energy consumption and costs, and utilizing technology for improved benchmarking and customer service.

A 2013 renovation of Bakersville Elementary School (after, seen at top) included cleaning the exterior brick and reinstallation of clear glass to sections of classroom windows. (Photos: City of Manchester, NH)

These efforts were not limited to education facilities, since O’Maley oversaw all of the city’s 90 buildings that total approximately 3,000,000 square feet.

O’Maley is now director of the city’s Central Fleet Management department, a position he took on as an interim initially. “Manchester has always had a special place in my heart since I was very young,” he notes. “I knew I wanted Manchester to be my last stop prior to retirement. So the fleet department has given me one more challenge before I reach that stage of my life.”

As chief facilities manager for the city, O’Maley made significant strides in improving not only the physical condition of the education buildings but also the operation and costs related to these facilities. Central to this was a focus on long-term strategies and balancing those with a variety of short-term objectives. Serving more than 15,000 students, there are four high schools, four middle schools, and 14 elementary schools in the Manchester School District.

Energy Projects Up, Utility Bills Down

Initiatives led by O’Maley and carried out by the Facilities team reduced utility bills for the Manchester school district by almost in half over seven years. During that time period, there was a declination year to year in utility costs. This started off with accepting a federal grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This first phase proved to be so successful that the city’s elected officials decided to invest further in the effort.

O’Maley utilized that second investment and supplemented those funds with other grants and rebates. Rebates and grants for the energy efficiency measures accounted for over $3,600,000. “The ARRA grant turned out to serve as seed money to begin our longer term energy program,” explains O’Maley. “This was a little over one million dollars. We focused on low hanging fruit initially. In future years this grant money was co-mingled with other grants, aid, bonds, and rebates.”

The initial phase of this energy work had a real payback for all these projects that was slightly under three years. This calculation only considers the funds that needed to be repaid by the city or school district. It does not consider the grant and rebates—funds that did not have to be repaid.

Adds O’Maley, “The school district business administrator was very appreciative of how this impacted school finances.”

“At the beginning we did do some big projects which included boiler replacements at one of our high schools that would have needed replacement with or without available funds. This was due to their age,” explains O’Maley. “Part of our philosophy was by doing a number of energy projects we were simultaneously reducing our deferred maintenance. This really resonated with decision makers.”

He continues, “With the new condensing boiler technology, efficiencies went from low 70%s to the middle 90%s. These did have a longer-term payback than the other projects. But, on a dollar basis the impact was tens of thousands of dollars, because the cost of the replacement was so high.” After those projects, the focus turned to quicker returns with projects that included retrocommissioning, demand controlled ventilation, and lighting. Meanwhile, O’Maley notes, there were also code changes that relaxed air exchange rate that helped to save electricity.

More recently, during the summer of 2015, school facility projects valued at $7,000,000 were completed in a three month timeframe. This was accomplished without hiring any additional support through a clerk or project managers. Commenting on those projects, O’Maley says, “All the people on the Manchester facilities team are what inspired me and sustained me during those seven plus years in the facilities division. I would challenge them with unrealistic expectations and goals, and they always rose to the occasion. And we were given quite a few of those challenges by the city and the school district.”

school district
Kevin O’Maley, Director, Central Fleet Management, City of Manchester, NH

A Chat With Kevin O’Maley

How did you begin in facility management? In one form or another I have been in the facilities profession over 40 years. When I was 17 years old, I worked as a construction laborer. The U.S. Navy paid for my college education, after which I served as an officer in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps (CEC). While in the Navy, I served in two public works departments. Navy public works was responsible for all buildings, construction and roadways, and real estate.

During your tenure in facility management, what is a development that’s significantly impacted the way you do your job? In summary, it is technology and leadership. Facility managers are continuing to work with fewer and fewer resources. That is not going to change. The only way anyone will be successful in that environment is through leadership. Leadership is truly the key that has impacted my ability to meet expectations.

Tackling Deferred Maintenance

When O’Maley joined the Facilities department, the City of Manchester had a deferred maintenance program in place that had been discussed and debated for some time. The plan included all buildings (including education facilities), but the reason it eventually became a high priority was due to the school buildings. “Everybody knew our deferred maintenance was growing, but nothing was quantified,” O’Maley says. “The decision makers did not have an order of magnitude on deferred maintenance cost.”

As part of a contract renewal, O’Maley engaged Aramark, the city’s custodial service provider to create a deferred maintenance report for Manchester’s facilities. “Making it part of the renewal essentially added no cost to us for the report. It was an exceedingly high level concept and lacked any granular detail, but it was just what we needed in the school district,” he explains.

The Facilities department used its existing asset management program as the basis for listing all equipment and systems. Aramark supported the effort with architects, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers to inspect the city buildings in order to provide O’Maley with information on remaining useful life for all building systems.

At Manchester’s Beech Street Elementary School (top), a lobby area was included in facility-wide improvements. In 2014, restoration of Hallsville Elementary School tower clock (center) brought it back to operation after 23 years out of commission. At the city’s Memorial High School, a potential lighting retrofit is tested. (Photos: City of Manchester, NH)

Says O’Maley, “This report also filled in any gaps the [asset management] data may have been missing. This provided us with a spreadsheet containing a lot of useful data. With it, we graphically displayed various impacts for the school board and school administration to view. We showed what zero investment would look like over 30 years. We also provided other investment schemes to demonstrate how that would impact deferred maintenance over the long term. The graphics provided were both simple and powerful.”

Staff Training And Development

Another key strategy O’Maley implemented while chief facilities manager for Manchester was to increase the emphasis on training and education for his staff. “I am a firm believer that training and staff development is a critical tool needed in any facilities manager’s toolbox,” says O’Maley. I did anticipate that if we invested more in training it would help reduce our overall expense. Essentially, it provides us with a return on that training investment. Training is not a luxury; it is a necessity.”

Training also helped to keep the team on top of the constant change routinely introduced through technology. “There is continual technological change on a large scale relative to building automation systems and asset management systems,” says O’Maley. “But that is even driven down to the component level with variable speed drives and high efficiency condensing boilers. Everything we touch now has some type of computer application.”

Another way that staff development provided a benefit was by motivating the workforce. “I believe people generally want to be challenged in their jobs. At Manchester we have a lot of long-term employees. We need to find ways to keep them engaged,” explains O’Maley.

As facilities themselves and the issues impacting their operation continue to evolve, perhaps the only constant is change. Reflecting on his time as chief facilities manager, and perhaps his overall career, O’Maley comments, “One distinct need that was imperative for Manchester was leading change. Change is a constant in any industry. Changing construction standards… changing code requirements… changes in politics… change in focus. A contemporary facility manager needs to quickly identify these changes on the horizon and plan to accommodate them as they affect his or her organization.”

Project Information

Organization: City of Manchester, NH School District. Annual Facilities Budget: $6.4 million. Number of Buildings: 22. Square Footage: 2,330,770.

Product Information

Carpet: Shaw. Flooring: Hydra-Cork; Nora Systems. Furniture: W.B. Mason (supplier). Lighting: Philips. Security: Genetec (software); Signet. Fire/Life Safety: Notifier. Roofing: Carlisle; CertainTeed; Sarnafil. Cleaning/Janitorial Services: Aramark Facility Services. Building Automation (Energy Management): Johnson Controls. Building Automation (HVAC): Greenheck. Building Automation ( Lighting Controls): Lithonia; Stryker (Honeywell). Software (CMMS): Maximo Asset Management Software. Boilers: Aerco. Elevator Service: Stanley.

Learn more about Manchester, NH Facilities department as well as the Central Fleet Management department at Facility executives are invited to share their construction, renovation, and improvement stories. Please send an e-mail with an overview to the Editor at

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