A comprehensive facilities management (FM) strategy can support the objectives of independent schools, yielding real results. A solid strategy starts with mapping the operational capabilities and infrastructure needs of the school to plan both preventative maintenance and strategic improvements. The lack of predictive and preventative maintenance of school facilities significantly increases the rate of deterioration and significantly increases the overall costs of maintaining buildings and equipment to most effectively serve their occupants. For example, approximately $1 in facilities stewardship avoids $3 in future capital renewal investment. Other aspects of a comprehensive FM strategy are key to running optimal FM operations such as custodial and cleaning processes to manage against infection and promote wellness, landscaping for the school’s aesthetics and curb appeal, pest control, HVAC and lighting for comfortable learning.
As an independent school evolves, its FM strategy has to grow along with it to keep pace. Major FM trends such as sustainability and energy management are growing areas we are seeing more in comprehensive FM strategies for independent schools. For example, independent schools are being graded by their communities for their sustainability policies, plans and benchmarks along with their commitments to incorporating ‘green and earth-friendly’ initiatives into operations. According to the National Association of Independent Schools’ Principles of Good Practices, incorporating sustainability practices for carbon footprint reduction, water and food services waste along with recycling is just the start. From integrating sustainable operations within curricular programming (e.g. energy conservation competitions and student field study projects) to promoting organic soil in school gardens, facilities departments are viewed as the “local experts,” taking sustainability to the next level at their schools.
What about investment in capital construction programs used for both modernizing campuses for function and aesthetics? A comprehensive FM strategy that builds on the foundational operating and maintenance processes and combines proactive planning for asset management and construction can get ahead of both the timing and budgetary challenges of renovating, rehabilitating, maintaining and operating independent schools’ facilities.
When all of these FM operational components are strategically planned and executed, independent schools experience not only the efficient daily operations of their facilities but also tangible benefits aligned to their key objectives including investment to the school, higher student enrollment, operational cost savings such as lower utility expenses, higher teacher and faculty retention.