The growing importance of M&E expertise in facilities management
Published: 09 October, 2004
Facilities managers today are responsible for the building’s performance, and their uncompromising relationship with their occupiers and service providers can only be satisfied if mechanical and electrical skills are there in the first place, says MAURICE TIDY.
The FM market is worth £150 billion to the UK economy. How much of that sum is attributable to M&E maintenance is somewhat clouded, but the best current estimate is £8 billion, excluding the public sector.
However, we do know that M&E maintenance comprises 20% (1) of the services charges levied on commercial property in London and that the whole-life cost of operating and owning commercial office buildings is illustrated by the following ratios (2).
• Design and construction costs,1.
• Maintenance and building- operating costs, 5.
• Business operating costs, 200.
What is most significant is the impact on the value to business-operating costs. If it costs £70 million to build a corporate headquarters building, the preceding ratios indicate that the cost of operating the business over 25 years is £14 billion!
Benefits to occupiers
It is not difficult to see why facilities managers are so enthusiastic about business potential for the occupation period of their clients’ buildings, but understanding what portion of that cost is attributable to mechanical and electrical maintenance goes further than this article can define.
What we do know is that to maintain a positive internal environment in which business and employees can flourish, the following factors are attributable to mechanical and electrical maintenance.
• Less absence from work.
• Fewer interruptions .
• Speed and accuracy.
• Health and well being.
...and there are many more.
The reason why M&E expertise is so important begins at the design stage of a project when base criteria and calculations are made to define operating and performance criteria. This work requires the input of qualified engineers and technicians. Their specifications must reflect a host of statutory requirements, ranging from health and safety through planning requirements, fitness for purpose, cost and programme.
Establishing a project data base into which and from whence all the intelligence of the eventual premises is input and extracted is achieved electronically. With the increasing use of CADD and CAFM it is now common for this electronic information to accrue to maintenance companies. Boilers, fans, pumps, filters, refrigeration equipment and building-management systems are shown on drawings, with direct links to documentation and regimes. Not only can today’s engineer deal with increasing demands on technical issues but there are ever-changing EU requirements to be met. In short, compliance is becoming an issue. All this is expected to be delivered for ever decreasing fees and costs — and to a great extent it is.
The reason why this expertise is necessary is that clients and building occupiers need to operate in a safe and well controlled environment where their pressures to operate are no less demanding.
Facility managers today are responsible for the building’s performance, and their uncompromising relationship with their occupiers and service providers can only be satisfied if mechanical and electrical skills are there in the first place.
One major issue that arises from this deliberation is the skills availability required to meet the burgeoning growth of out-sourced services. The FM market place is being represented by Sector Skills Council Asset Skills, and I believe there is a need to co-operate with the appropriate mechanical and electrical sector skills council — Summit Skills.
Maurice Tidy is director general of the Facilities Management Association.
The Facilities Management Association was established in 1995 because M&E maintenance companies became aware of the new opportunity available to them — facilities management.
The founder member companies of the FMA all had M&E maintenance as their core service. Over the years most have expanded their portfolios to include the usual range of out-sourced services.
In addition the chairman, director general and secretary have career histories featuring mechanical and electrical engineering.
1: Office Oscar — Service Charge Analysis for Offices. Jones Lang Lassale, 2003
www.oscar.joneslanglasalle.co.uk (Retail figures may also be seen at this site).
2: ‘The long-term costs of owning and using buildings’, Evans, Harigott, Haste & Jones.
Royal Academy of Engineering, November 1998.