Effective Facilities Management in Government & Public Sector
From the outside, government buildings might seem mysterious, or even august. These are places where decisions are made, laws are written and executed, judgments handed down, and, well, driver’s licenses issued (these buildings might not seem as august). But as any facilities manager in the public sector can tell you, they are mostly buildings like any other: filled with complex systems that need careful monitoring and maintenance to function well.
Government and public sector buildings can include everything from courthouses to hospitals, and from city halls to schoolhouses. They are buildings where critical work is done and that the public relies on for essential services, making comfort, functionality, and safety top priorities. They are also buildings that can benefit from robust upgrades in energy efficiency and are uniquely positioned to lead the charge toward a more secure, sustainable future.
Facilities management for government and public sector buildings might have many of the same challenges as other buildings, and almost certainly have more stringent regulations than most. But there are incredible opportunities to embrace new advances in building management technology.
The Challenges of Facilities Management in Public Sector Buildings
Some of the challenges of maintaining efficient buildings in the public sector are a product of their function. These may include:
- Peak operating hours that are dramatically more crowded than others (students in classroom, people in courtrooms, workers in their offices) taxing HVAC and air purification systems.
- After-hours occupants who must remain safe and comfortable.
- Limitations in cloud connectivity as a result of heightened cybersecurity concerns.
- A patchwork of new and legacy systems.
These are concerns many private commercial properties face as well. But there a number of extra challenges to effective facilities management in government and public sector:
Extensive documentation requirements.
Exacting procurement requirements.
While these can be roadblocks to change, new technologies are opening up new opportunities.
Unifying Systems and Gaining Insight
The best way to improve facilities management in government buildings is to unify systems and add smart devices and software layers to optimize insight, efficiency, and performance. An ideal strategy includes:
- Work with a systems integrator. Unifying building systems is a complex project, particularly when a building or multi-building campus includes legacy systems. Working with a master system integrator to assess your needs and design solutions based on your requirements ensures you gain the connectivity and capabilities you need.
- Deploy an intelligent analytics platform. The equipment, sensors, and devices in your buildings generate vast volumes of data. An intelligent analytics platform can harness that data and turn it into actionable insights. The right platform can give you centralized, mobile-first control of building systems, pinpoint inefficiencies, recommend solutions, streamline maintenance, and provide opportunities for advanced automation.
- Use the power of machine learning. An analytics platform with machine learning capabilities can begin to understand how a building works the day it is installed and continue to build on that knowledge over time to make more accurate predictions, detect anomalies faster, and improve automation. This includes allowing variables like occupancy, air quality, peak hours, outside temperature, and anticipated weather events to guide equipment settings, reducing waste while preserving safety and comfort.
For facilities managers and other stakeholders, this can bring significant benefits:
Better fault detection and diagnostics.
Verifiable and documentable fixes.
Increased transparency with contractors.
Reliable on-demand reporting.
These elements can all play an important role in improving operations, reducing costs, and facilitating further improvements. But perhaps the greatest impact of an analytics-driven system is its impact on energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency: Government Facilities Can Lead the Way
In 2009, the government of Ireland set a goal: reduce energy usage in all public and private buildings by much as 20%. It was ambitious, but the government realized that to accomplish it, they’d have to compensate for private buildings that weren’t able to meet their target. As such, they set the goal for public sector buildings at a 33% reduction by 2020.
In a 2020 report, government auditors conceded that not all buildings had met that standard. But some public sector buildings had exceeded their goals, and with the government leading by example, great strides were being made across sectors. Overall, energy use has now been reduced by 20%, and even more impressive targets have been developed for 2030.
That’s the kind of leadership that America is ready for.
Every year, the federal government spends over $6 billion on energy consumed in its buildings. Every state, county, and municipality spends a different amount, but they all have one thing in common: they could be spending less. By prioritizing energy efficiency, setting aggressive targets, and using smart technologies to achieve them, they could also achieve much more:
Creating new jobs
Combating climate change
Building a better future
Government investment in energy efficiency will mean extraordinary employment opportunities across industries, support for sustainable energy generation, development of new technologies, and meaningful quality of life improvements for people across the country. And, as we saw in Ireland, it could have a profound effect on private sector energy management by serving as a blueprint for how to go green and fostering a culture in which environmental responsibility is not just desirable, but expected.
That isn’t easy. But with analytics-driven facilities management in government and public sector buildings, energy efficiency can be optimized as quickly as possible and in innovative ways.
How Government and Public Sector Facility Managers Maximize Opportunity
Improving energy efficiency and overall facilities management in government buildings can be the first step toward big changes. To ensure success, it is important to work with a partner who understands your challenges and has the technologies to overcome them. Whether you have legacy systems that need to be upgraded and integrated or a new building designed for optimal energy efficiency, a master systems integrator can help you achieve your goals.
A key component of this is a powerful analytics platform, like onPoint. onPoint continuously captures data from all connected systems and creates clear, actionable insights via user-friendly dashboards and custom reports to help you identify opportunities for energy savings and operational improvement. With advanced machine learning capabilities, this platform can make buildings more functional, more efficient, and easier to manage over time.
Government buildings need many of the same things as any other building. But in the right hands, they can do so much more.