In general, facility managers contribute to an organization’s success by maintaining and protecting property, buildings, and equipment. The scope of work for FMs is wide, but the overall goal is the same: to ensure all elements of operation are in order which keeps our collective spaces safe, healthy, and productive. A big part of that process is conducting facility condition assessments (FCAs).
If you’re a facility manager, it’s safe to assume that you know assessment methodologies are rapidly evolving. That’s where the importance of suitability of facilities comes into play. This refers to how well a particular space or building meets the specific needs and requirements of its intended use. The suitability of facilities plays a vital role in optimizing functionality, enhancing productivity, ensuring safety and compliance, accessibility, and contributing to user satisfaction. It is a multifaceted consideration that should be carefully addressed in the planning, design, and management of any facility to achieve optimal results.
At FOS, we’ve embraced the importance of adapting to this changing FM landscape and in response have enhanced our FOScore® FCA and capital planning software with an agile suitability module. This module was created in response to our clients who need to collect, rank, compare, and score virtually any type of measurable data. The possibilities for measuring and quantifying within the tool are virtually infinite. The module extends functionality well beyond non-FCA data collection, encompassing a valuable framework tailored for analysis, planning, and the ability to combine diverse sets of data into personalized outcome scores. This also includes generating stand-alone or blended result reports. With a 100% customizable rubric builder templating tool, the new suitability module can assist our clients in measuring how they are doing within the built environment relative to suitability standards, as well as educational adequacy, adaptability, visioning, operational utility or efficiency, and energy utilization.
Facility Roadmap: Long Beach Unified School District
A relevant example of this is through our work with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), whose mission is to provide safe and inviting schools that nurture and inspire an increasingly diverse student population. Sound familiar? Even if you’re a FM who doesn’t work in a school district, you can probably relate to wanting to provide high quality environments for your facility users.
In our work with LBUSD, there were major equity concerns and themes that impact their most marginalized students — primarily those with disabilities and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) identities — that needed to be interrupted and transformed. The consideration of these pain points during (and beyond) the suitability and adequacy assessment phase was important, but it also informed equity goals and outcomes for many other planning projects. Key pain points included ADA accessibility requirements, students experiencing food insecurity or homelessness, climate change impacts, place-based health disparities, appropriate facilities for curriculum diversity, facilities for English-learner student needs, and security/safety needs based on recent events in the area.
For LBUSD, FOS performed an educational specification assessment across all of their schools district wide. We looked at over 100 data points at each of their 85 campuses across a few different categories; including:
- Educational Program
- Relationships and Collaboration
- Safety and Security
- Features in Learning Environment
- Operational Utility
Equity and inclusion were important for the district to ensure the same access to resources for all students. We introduced our 3-pillar approach on this project which contained an FCA, a suitability assessment, and a capacity/utilization analysis. This helped with campus prioritization and recommendations, providing a long‐term overview of facility needs, balancing current demands with future requirements and creating an orderly process to accommodate the many competing factors that affect decisions about the utilization and enhancement of facilities.
With preliminary facility assessment findings captured and analyzed, district stakeholders were engaged in open, transparent, and data‐driven forums. Several major categories of facility needs were identified for deeper study, options development, and a strategic framework for project implementation — all to achieve districtwide equity, a disciplined approach to prioritizing projects, and transformative outcomes for all stakeholders.