Government Product News Industry Insights: Facility management
Government Product News: What are some new innovations that have been integrated into your industry’s products recently?
Kevin Brown: Technology is evolving at a rapid pace especially around lighting, IT, facility management (including labor), capital planning and real-time energy management. The difficulty is not in implementing the technology or the lack of need local officials have for technology but where the funding comes from or how it can be produced. We’re seeing significant interest in fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) as way to ensure that savings are realized and a way to predict maintenance issues before the systems fail. Adding FDD to the controls, while we are upgrading the facilities, is relatively easy and provides us with a way to do monitoring based commissioning for a client. That ongoing commissioning often identifies additional savings opportunities for the district that can either provide additional fund balance relief for them or justify a phase two upgrade project. Data dashboards that face the public have been popular with respect to showing the taxpayers how their dollars are turning into more efficient buildings.
GPN: How has your industry’s involvement with the public sector evolved over the past few years?
KB: Clients are asking for more robust services that create greater impact for their districts. They are facing ever-increasing demands on their general fund and in many cases have depleted their fund balances. They are noticing an impending crisis with a retiring workforce. The building maintenance personnel that knew how to “make the system work” to satisfy comfort for most of the conditioned spaces are taking that knowledge with them into retirement.
GPN: What resources can elected officials use to educate themselves more on your industry and its importance to government operations?
KB: The best way to stay current is to attend national and state conferences where featured speakers lead discussions on this matter. Set up internet alerts around topics that are important to operations to stay current on what is happening within the industry. Industry groups are usually very good at producing reports around best practices implemented by trusted firms. Join industry groups that feature articles and white papers on proven technologies.
GPN: What should local government professionals consider most when buying and/or using products within your industry?
KB: Reputation. It’s an age-old process but it’s the most effective way to measure a potential partner’s capabilities. It is important though to ask for references of all clients the vendor has worked with in your market. Often times, a vendor will reference their best client, not their true performance record. Clients are looking to select a partner, not a vendor. Clients want to trust in the team and the company’s ability to maintain a long-term relationship.
GPN: What future developments can governments expect to see from this industry?
KB: Technology will always be changing and evolving from energy storage to interactive buildings, occupant recognition, occupant safety systems and advancement on transportation systems. Innovation from a technology perspective as well as a financial condition will be important. Trends in the business continue to change and, clients need a partner that remains focused and relevant with the ever-changing conditions.