ARCHIBUS Connects Facility Operations to Sustainability
It’s widely reported that the inefficient energy use of building accounts for 40% or more of CO2 emissions in the United States as compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. With that number in mind, many organizations have placed a greater emphasis on the performance of their building both for cost savings and reduced impacts. ARCHIBUS has been a leader in facility management software, and has seen an increasing interest in real-time performance metrics. Informed Infrastructure (I2) recently connected with Chris D’Souza, Product Marketing Manager, and Eric Maxfield, Product Line Manager at ARCHIBUS to discuss the trends in facility management as well as the capabilities of their tools.
I2: Has there been a trend toward more of a proactive preventive maintenance approach with tools such as yours to manage complex enterprise building systems?
D’Souza: Absolutely, and now more than ever before. Both public and private sector enterprises have implemented solutions like ARCHIBUS to dramatically lower maintenance costs, improve productivity, and create a positive sustainability footprint. In fact, software solutions for preventive maintenance are used to address all kinds of preventive maintenance needs including essential care, fixed time maintenance, and condition monitoring. Software management of the preventive maintenance process translates directly into smaller spare part inventory, lower power consumption, lower emissions, and in some cases a reduction in space used.
Let me also say this, the complexity of the enterprise building systems is not a barrier to success anymore. Software and hardware technologies have evolved to the point where the preventive maintenance coverage can span hundreds of buildings over globally dispersed campus facilities, all of which can be managed using a single software implementation and a single information database as we do with ARCHIBUS. ARCHIBUS software, for example, combines real estate, facility, and infrastructure data with geospatial information to provide enhanced business intelligence at the organizational level for more effective decision making.
I2: In addition to preventive maintenance, are there other aspects of complex building management that can be done in software?
D’Souza: One of the most important benefits of using software-based solutions like ARCHIBUS is the slew of operational and financial gains seen across functional domains within the organization. Take for example, a large organization like a multi-campus medical facility that uses software to manage the preventive maintenance schedule of its diagnostic equipment that may number in the hundreds or even thousands. This organization can also utilize the ARCHIBUS Asset Management application to accurately identify the locations, usage patterns, and depreciation for this equipment and the resulting information can be used to once again improve financial and operational efficiency, while creating a more sustainable operation.
We also offer a whole range of applications under the umbrella of Integrated Workplace Management Solutions (IWMS), that contribute in tangible fashion to a better sustainability footprint. These applications include Space Management, Building Operations Management, Real Estate Portfolio Management, Capital Project Management, Move Management, Environmental and Risk Management, Asset Management, Technology Management, and Workplace Services. We have a lot of detailed information on our website.
I2: Are there some typical kinds of organizations that can positively impact their sustainability footprints using a software based preventive maintenance solution like ARCHIBUS? An example, perhaps?
D’Souza: Enterprises of all sizes can benefit from an IWMS software solution like ARCHIBUS. That being said, larger organizations, if simply due to the scope of their operations, tend to present greater opportunities for improvement in cost control and sustainability footprints. Government agencies, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and public infrastructure facilities like airports, are just a few examples of these kinds of organizations.
A great example is Capital Steel, one of China’s largest steel manufacturers. At its Caofeidian Mill located about 200 km from Beijing, the company implemented leading-edge software platforms to run all aspects of its business. A key piece of that infrastructure is ARCHIBUS Preventive Maintenance that automatically generates spot check plans and schedules so that inspectors don’t miss check points or make mistakes in recording results. The spot checking sub-system links to PDAs carried by 210 inspectors as they conduct their inspection routines. The inspectors survey more than 100,000 inspection points looking for abnormal noise, heat, emissions or other abnormalities. The ARCHIBUS system provides data communications capabilities, as well as query, statistics and data analysis functions.
I2: Efficiency and performance seem like easy selling points, but there’s always a bottom line. How important is ROI to all of what you do?
D’Souza: You’ve hit on the most important factor determining the selection of an integrated facilities management software solution. Ensuring a rapid and measurable return on investment for end customers is a goal that must drive any high quality software solution. At ARCHIBUS, this goal drives our product design, and is the guiding principle for our business partners who guide our customers through every step of the implementation process. A time-to-value of ninety days or less is not uncommon for a lot of enterprises, even large ones.
More importantly, our customers calculate their own ROI once they are up and running. Here’s an example, the City of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada owns a portfolio of 700 buildings with 125,000 acres of land. The city needed an IWMS system that could provide a management tool for space, maintenance and operations, furniture and equipment, and real estate. The city also processed 20,000 work orders annually. They implemented a suite of ARCHIBUS applications including Building Operations Management, Space Management, Real Property & Lease Management, Furniture & Equipment Management, Emergency Preparedness, and Condition Assessment. On completion, project officials asserted that the city achieved a 400% ROI from improved work order eﬃciency that also delivered a 90% closure rate. Once again, real world returns measured by the people who matter – the customers.
I2: How do you draw the connection between better facility management and sustainability?
Maxfield: There is indeed a real, solid connection between the two. The built environment is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases – due to energy consumption for heating, cooling, and operations. Construction and renovation materials, cleaning materials, asset life, waste disposal, even the standard number of square feet allocated per person – all these have a significant impact on the environment.
I2: Do these connections extend to a broader geography beyond a facility to the site or campus?
Maxfield: Yes, this is an important point and corresponds with the whole ethos of sustainability. Organizations with successful sustainability initiatives balance environmental benefit, economic, and social concerns. Often they find they can achieve multiple objectives simultaneously. For instance, some organizations run the numbers and opt to run a dedicated shuttle between metropolitan sites. Doing so, they reduce carbon footprint and improve employee convenience at the same time. When organizations consider the LEED score benefits from public transportation, they often sponsor carpooling programs or create subway-pass incentives for commuters as a result. When they consider the larger picture for sustainability, they often achieve larger efficiencies in the organization as a whole.
A facility’s sustainability performance is also linked to regional climate and culture. Both present challenges and opportunities for sustainable management. Of course, there are the obvious concerns like the impact of landscaping, lighting, and water management across a site or campus; but there are many other considerations beyond an individual facility’s walls. Waste disposal, recycling, and composting are typically site- or campus-wide concerns.
ARCHIBUS employs tools including global GIS and campus-scale visualizations to help users consider sustainability and other decisions within the broader context.
I2: A growing policy direction is toward true cost accounting that factors in the ecosystem services provided by the natural environment, and an offset of such things as carbon. Increasingly businesses are considering their liability and risk in line with their impact on the environment. Is this an area of focus for you, and if so what approach do you take?
Maxfield: You’ve hit on one of the key drivers, as organizations want to quantify their carbon liability as carefully as they manage other regulatory risks, such as toxic waste disposal or workplace safety.The impacts go well beyond just oil consumption, lights, and recycling. Organizations are looking at the entire supply chain that produces their output — including staff air travel and shipping cost of component parts.
The ARCHIBUS Green Building carbon model incorporates all of these factors and normalizes them to a standard yardstick so organizations can measure and trend carbon. Organizations use these figures in their Carbon Footprint Ratio, which compares revenue per metric ton carbon produced. In this way, they can compare their measurable carbon debt against the measurable benefits the organization provides. The ARCHIBUS Compliance Management application helps organizations prioritize and evaluate performance across all their sustainability and risk programs, whether driven by internal or external forces.
Defining and managing an overall risk and sustainability strategy can be very complex. We see it as an excellent opportunity for software automation.
I2:The Internet of Things is widely touted as the next disruption, with sensors informing process, including building management. Are you working on incorporating real-time inputs to inform your system?
Maxfield: We are at the point where systems can automatically communicate and digest vast volumes of complex information and yield real-time or near-real-time results that are both intelligible and of tremendous business significance. Many ARCHIBUS deployments include integrations with building automation systems. Some use utility meter data to help verify bill accuracy, spot anomalies, negotiate rates, and accurately prorate cost – both as dollars and environmental impact – to the areas of business responsible.
Sensor data can provide significant cost savings by identifying system inefficiencies and impending equipment failure. This gets into what’s called “predictive maintenance.” Users can configure the ARCHIBUS application to automatically schedule work orders in response to sensor data. A simple example might be the system observing reduced airflow in a duct and issuing a request for a filter replacement. With more expensive building equipment, sensors can detect impending problems very early and save companies many thousands of dollars by triggering an investigation or repair long before catastrophic failure.