Construction project

How a wider scope brings better focus to purchase decisions

Written by: Sheila Sheridan
ecoPreserve is pleased to bring you this guest article from Sheila Sheridan, IFMA Fellow, CFM, Retired. We are further honored to participate in the panel that Sheila will moderate at this year’s IFMA World Workplace (October 26-28, 2021 in Kissimmee, Florida). The panel, Today, Tomorrow and Beyond – Waste Management, will explore circular economy strategies for keeping waste materials out of landfills!   —  Alexa Stone, ecoPreserve President

Costs do not end when the invoice is paid. Knowing that, building professionals are likely to use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) to evaluate product durability and lifespan before authorizing a purchase.

Life cycle cost estimating

Often, the differences between life cycle evaluation tools are not understood. An LCA is an environmental accounting procedure. It quantifies the cost of ownership and analyzes the impact and burden of the environmental components. An LCC is an economic accounting procedure. It has greater scope, estimating the total cost of a physical asset throughout its life cycle. Results are based on all costs of ownership while achieving environmental goals.

Use of an LCC need not be limited to capital expenditure decisions. Facility managers should integrate LCC into purchasing processes within their Operations and Maintenance (O&M) budgets. Within the O&M analysis, LCC can assess environmental cost/benefit, such as energy use impact of lamps being purchased, or the water that cleaning equipment would use.

Planning and preparing

Before products and services are evaluated, the facility manager should determine if the organization has a sustainability or corporate responsibility statement. Either will contain information that is relevant to the evaluation of products and services. An early visit to the internal purchasing department is likely to yield valuable assistance and cooperation. Senior management must also be fully informed about the LCC model. An example LCC can help gain stakeholder support by illustrating the steps involved and benefits to be gained. A successful LCC will have management and staff support, agreeing that purchasing decisions must be based on more than initial cost.

Calculating Life Cycle Costs (LCC)

When estimating the LCC of a purchase, these are the essential items:

  • First time cost
  • Cost of installation
    This includes business continuity/disruption issues.
    The facility manager may see the first time cost and installation cost as one price.
    Instead, those costs should be listed separately in the Request For Proposal (RFP)
  • Maintenance costs during the expected life
    Consider services provided through warranty.
    Facility managers should consider how long the warranty will cover maintenance. Also, a warranty usually specifies some service by the purchaser. That increases maintenance costs.
  • End life issues
    • Removal
    • Disposal
    • Reclamation or reuse
      Reclamation or reuse cost brings benefit to the environment.

The LCC will be the sum of these costs, divided by the expected life.

After obtaining management and staff buy-in, facility managers should list the O&M budgeted purchases to be assessed using LCC. The facility managers should then evaluate a single budgeted item, to test the LCC process. Information cut sheets from suppliers may provide valuable product information.

Once the Facility Management (FM) department has become proficient in the process, LCC can be used to develop a list of potential products and systems within the capital budget. Roofing, window, and mechanical systems are ideal candidates for LCC. Adapting the LCC tool to specific needs and experience is essential to success.

The LCC model can be used to develop Requests for Proposal (RFP). Those RFP should ask that the product’s quantitative and qualitative components be listed as separate line items. Initial cost, O&M, and disposal would be quantitative items. Design or installation costs may be included in the product cost. In evaluating the response, any warranty — and the services it specifies as purchaser-provided — should not be overlooked.

Qualitative analysis

After planning and preparing, the evaluation can weigh estimated product acceptance by occupants, along with ease of use and aesthetics. The FM department must determine those, applying its knowledge of which qualitative aspects are important at a particular facility. Products like flooring and ceiling tiles would require such qualitative evaluation.

In an RFP, relevant qualitative information should be requested or a form provided to provide it. A product cut sheet and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should also be requested. Both are essential as common measurements to assess RFP responses.

Completing the cycle

The LCC process extends beyond product use, until the item’s eventual disposal. The increased disposal costs of many items are sadly well-known to facility managers. At the same time, negative impacts can literally spill into the environment — like mercury contamination from discarded fluorescent lamps. Ideally, suppliers and vendors responsibly provide for disposing any products offered that require special handling.

Many vendors provide necessary disposal and LCC information. However, if a facility manager does not receive that information they may choose to request a letter, written on the vendor company’s letterhead,  that details a recommended disposal process.

Facility Managers (FM) can transform the market by requesting disposal guidelines for products they are evaluating. If FM ask the right questions, the answers will be significant factors in determining preferred sources to meet a facility’s needs.

Enjoying the benefits

Use of LCC tools will yield better-informed choices about product purchases. Those can make a difference in meeting O&M budgets. As LCC calculations are incorporated into more product categories, greater value is returned for each dollar spent. First cost analysis, a standard practice outside of major renovation projects, will fall short of estimating full lifecycle cost.

As FM become proficient in LCC analysis, they may bring closer focus on a product’s environmental attributes. That can and should happen after FM departments gain experience using the LCC tool and then share their success stories within the organization.

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Sheila Sheridan

IFMA Fellow, CFM, LEED AP O+M

Sheila Sheridan retired from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was Director of Facilities and Services. She is a past Chair of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and currently is a volunteer member. She also is past vice chair of the US Green Building Council’s LEED Operations and Maintenance Committee.

A recognized global speaker concerning facilities and sustainability, Sheila has lectured at universities around the world. She also has participated as faculty for IFMA and USGBC courses, and been a visiting lecturer at universities around the world.

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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.