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Building the Future: How Tech Is Revolutionizing School Facilities Management

Jun 18, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

The proliferation of technology is here to stay—and not just in the classroom. More and more K-12 schools around the country are embedding technology into their buildings, from smart HVAC systems that optimize energy usage to automated security protocols for student safety. This transition isn’t just about embracing the latest gadgets. It’s about fundamentally reshaping the learning environment and administrative processes in service of greater student success.

As we navigate these new challenges, school leaders and facilities managers will face three key shifts that together represent the great transition. Understanding and planning for these shifts will promote a seamless and sustainable transition across facilities management practices.

1. Predictive Maintenance Is the Path Forward for Facilities Management

Predictive maintenance empowers facilities managers and school leaders to spot problems early on and prevent unexpected failures. Monitoring the performance and condition of equipment can determine when a problem might emerge, teeing up repairs before a breakdown occurs. This type of maintenance involves the use of technology and sensors to track an asset’s condition and flag issues. It allows maintenance departments to respond to concerns before they advance to an equipment failure.

Many schools still depend upon reactive maintenance, where facilities teams only repair equipment once it has failed. Planned repairs, however, generally take much less time to complete and shorten downtime. Implementing a predictive maintenance strategy will increasingly be the path forward to reducing replacement costs, optimizing staff and learning schedules, and increasing the lifespan of equipment that doesn’t get run to the point of irreparable damage.

2. Tighter Environmental Regulations Call for Sustainability Strategies

According to one study, school HVAC systems produce the same amount of carbon emissions each year as 5 million gas-fueled cars. Facilities leaders are being asked to transition to more productive spaces and minimize the environmental impact of K-12 schools with smart building sustainability initiatives.

Steps to take include installing thermostats and lighting systems that adjust to the environmental conditions of a room based on its occupancy level and adopting power management software to optimize energy management. Introducing digital solutions that monitor and control energy consumption and shut down devices during hours when a building is closed or not occupied is another valuable sustainability strategy.

Schools can also cut their emissions by installing appliances designed for energy efficiency and by introducing renewable energy sources like solar panels. Using new building technology and adopting renewable energy strategies will enable school leaders to reduce their carbon footprint, cut long-term costs, and prepare for tighter regulatory requirements.

3. Educational Equity Requires Equitable Maintenance Across all Buildings

Along with ensuring that no child is left behind, school leaders need to make sure that no building is left behind. A well-maintained school environment can promote positivity, academic success, and the overall well-being of students and teachers alike. Rundown school buildings with malfunctioning equipment, however, can reduce employee and student morale, make occupants sick, lead to excessive absences, and even lower academic performance across a school district’s student body.

However, it can be hard to recognize unequal patterns of maintenance if there is no data as a starting point to reference. As the saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) can help leaders monitor school grounds and buildings to ensure their functionality, safety, and compliance with regulations.

With data that tracks the location, maintenance, and utilization of resources across a district, facilities managers can make sure that no school building receives less attention than any other facility. And if one does, they can track down the reason why, which, for example, might be equipment that is reaching the end of its useful life. With more data and greater visibility into that data, school leaders can track resources and promote their equitable allocation across districts.

By embracing innovation responsibly and inclusively, facilities leaders can pave the way for a brighter, tech-enabled future. The great transition to smart facilities management then becomes an exciting first step to more resilient, healthy, and learning-ready environments.

Christopher Burns is a senior product manager at Incident IQ responsible for the company’s Facilities family of product offerings including work order management, asset management, preventative maintenance, parts and inventory, facilities event management, and more. Prior to joining Incident IQ, Burns spent nearly 10 years supporting K-12 schools in VMware’s End User Computing division as an Apple MDM product line manager and K-12 subject matter expert for its Global Support & Services team.

The post Building the Future: How Tech Is Revolutionizing School Facilities Management appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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