This page contains document links to Construction Criteria Base

Facilities Operations & Maintenance

by Don Sapp, Plexus Scientific
Updated by the Facilities O&M Committee

Last updated: 10-04-2013


A Product of the FEMP O&M Center of Excellence

Facility Management is the integration of processes within an organization to maintain and develop the agreed upon services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities (EN 15221-1: Facility Management - Part 1: Terms and Definitions). Facilities operations and maintenance encompasses all of the broad spectrum of services required to assure that the built environment will perform the functions for which a facility was designed and constructed. Operations and Maintenance (O&M) typically includes the day-to-day activities necessary for the building and its systems and equipment to perform their intended function. A facility cannot operate at peak efficiency without being operated and maintained properly using an integrated approach. An integrated approach to facility management includes all of the aspects of integrated interdisciplinary fields devoted to the coordination of operation, maintenance, space, infrastructure, and staff and their associated activities that optimizes facility efficiency and usage. The major divisions within facility management include operations and maintenance, custodial, landscaping, contracting, and commissioning. The Facilities O&M section offers guidance in the following areas:

  • Real Property Inventory (RPI)—Provides an overview on the type of system needed to maintain an inventory of an organization's major assets (land, facility, structure) and manage those assets.
  • Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)—Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) enable the facility manager, subordinates and customers to track the status of maintenance work on their assets and the associated costs and manpower related to that work.
  • Computer Aided Facilities ManagementA typical CAFM system is defined as a combination of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and/or relational database software with specific abilities for Facilities Management (FM).
    • FM Data—The data associated with the operation, maintenance, and overall cost of facilities is one of the most critical aspects to be able to properly operate facilities. The estimated cost to the industry from lost data is in the billions of dollars annually in the United States.
  • O&M Manuals—It is widely recognized that O&M represents the greatest expense in owning and operating a facility over its life cycle. The accuracy, relevancy, and timeliness of well-developed, user-friendly O&M manuals cannot be overstated. Hence, it is becoming more common for detailed, facility-specific O&M manuals to be required as a part of the total commissioning process.
  • Janitorial/Cleaning—As a building is opened the responsibility is turned over to the janitorial, custodial, or housekeeping staff for interior "cleaning" and maintenance. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products and incorporating safer methods to clean buildings provides for better property asset management and a healthier workplace. Grounds maintenance and proper cleaning of exterior surfaces are also important to an effective overall facility maintenance and cleaning program.
  • Historic Buildings Operations and Maintenance—Historic buildings have unique requirements for operation and maintenance. Historic buildings' O&M requires research into the historic and character defining features of the building and into the special treatment required for historic materials and finishes used in historic structures. Preservation guidelines, like the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, need to be consulted for appropriate maintenance and cleaning of historic materials and features. Products for their cleaning and maintenance must be tested and documented. Modern equipment and systems installed into historic buildings need to be maintained and operated consistent with the goal for long-term preservation of the building. Facility use policies, building design standards, custodial guides, and integrated pest management plans are important tools to maintain the integrity of historic building fabric into the future.

The scope of O&M includes the activities required to operate and keep the entire built environment, as contained in the organization's Real Property Inventory, of the facilities and their supporting infrastructure in a condition to be used to meet their intended function during the entire building life cycle.

The maintenance activities include preventive, predictive (planned), maintenance, corrective (repair), and deferred maintenance (Reliability Centered Maintenance). Preventive Maintenance (PM) consists of a series of time-based requirements that provide a basis for planning, scheduling, and executing scheduled (planned versus corrective) maintenance. PM includes adjusting, lubricating, cleaning, and replacing components. Time intensive PM, such as bearing/seal replacement, is typically scheduled for regular (plant or "line") shutdown periods. Predictive maintenance (PdM) consists of the evaluation of components to determine when maintenance is required. PdM is performed on the basis of the operational characteristics of the components themselves. Corrective maintenance is a repair necessary to return equipment to proper functioning condition or service and may be both planned and/or un-planned. Some equipment, at the end of its service life, may warrant overhaul. Per the Department of Defense (DOD), the definition of overhaul is the restoration of an item to a completely serviceable condition as prescribed by maintenance serviceability standards. Deferred maintenance is maintenance that has been deferred for specific reasons, usually financial or the limited ability of access to the component.

The major scope of the operational aspect of O&M includes the proper operation of the facility and its components to maximize the efficiency and financial profits of the facility(s). Some of the activities associated with operation are the proper setup of building automated systems, the proper balancing of installed equipment, and the proper staffing of personnel to monitor and oversee the facility.

Requirements will vary from a single facility, to a campus, to groups of campuses. As the number, variety and complexity of facilities increase, the organization performing O&M should adapt similarly to ensure that mission performance is sustained. In all cases O&M requires a knowledgeable, skilled, and well trained management and technical staff and a well-planned operation plan (OP) and maintenance program (MP). The philosophy behind MPdevelopment is often predicated on the O&M organization's capabilities. The goals of a comprehensive MP include the following:

  • Reduce capital repairs and costs.
  • Reduce unscheduled shutdowns and repairs.
  • Extend both equipment life and facility life.
  • Realize life-cycle cost savings.
  • Provide safe, functional systems and facilities that meet the design intent.
  • Provide the proper data to plan and staff the facility(s).

The goals behind a comprehensive operation plan should include the following:

  • Improve operational balance.
  • Ensure proper staff coverage.
  • Set hours of operation to ensure energy efficiency.
  • Capture contacts for contracts and essential services to maximize response times.
  • Provide a quick reference for facility isolations for emergency response.

Energy and sustainability are important aspects of the O&M process. A well run O&M program should conserve energy and water and be resource efficient, while meeting the comfort, health, and safety requirements of the building occupants. The impact of Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) (PDF 1.9 MB), the Executive Order 13514, Executive Order 13423 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) (PDF 738 KB) must all be considered in the facilities O&M process. The Federal High Performance and Sustainable Buildings section provides key information for Federal personnel to meet high performance and sustainable building requirements.



A critical component of an overall facilities MP is its proper management. Per the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the management function should bind the distinct parts of the program into a cohesive entity. The overall MP should contain five distinct functions: Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Technology, and Administration (OMETA). Beyond establishing and facilitating the OMETA links, O&M managers are responsible to interface with other department managers and make their case for adequately funding the O&M program.

Related Issues

System-Level O&M Manuals. Organizations that require a higher level of O&M information beyond the typical vendor equipment documents should ensure that sufficient funds are set aside and appropriate scope/content requirements are written and specified at the planning stage. It is important to analyze and evaluate a facility from the component and system level, then develop procedures to attain the most efficient systems integration and balance. System-level manuals should be based on as-built information and the MP philosophy. O&M procedures at the system level do not replace manufacturers' documentation for specific pieces of equipment, but rather supplement those publications and guide in their use. For example, system-level troubleshooting will fault-analyze to the component level, such as a pump, valve or motor, then reference specific manufacturer requirements to remove, repair, or replace the component. Documentation should typically meet or exceed client or commercial standards, such as ASHRAE Guideline 4-2008, Preparation of O&M Documentation for Building Systems) for format and content, and be tailored specifically to support the Owner's MP.

Commissioning, a process-driven testing and verification program, has become an integral part of the design and construction process and is one key aspect of LEED certifications for buildings. Originally structured for building systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical infrastructure), commissioning has been expanded to include the building enclosure. As a result, "whole building commissioning" has emerged as the most effective process to achieve a symbiosis between the building systems and the building enclosure. The intent is to ensure that the building systems and the building envelope have been designed, constructed, and tested to perform at peak efficiency, and in concert with the other commissioned elements. To ensure a facility is efficiently operated and maintained after occupancy, other types of commissioning are employed. They include Continuous Commissioning, Re-Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning.

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie). Consideration to implement COBie should be at the planning stage, especially when BIM is required. COBie has also been used on existing facilities to capture data prior to renovations and/or to capture accurate equipment inventories.

Federal Real Property Asset Management (Executive Order 13327–2004). Under this directive federal agencies are required to establish procedures to establish accountability and stewardship for all owned and maintained federal facilities. This includes reporting value, condition and sustainability as well as adopting principles of total cost of ownership and life-cycle costing. Additional assistance for real property professionals is found in the GSA Real Property Guidance Library.

Deferred Maintenance. The method of determining the value of an organization's deferred maintenance is ongoing. In 1995 the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) established Accounting Standard Number 6 which defined and established the requirements for reporting of deferred maintenance of a facility or asset. This should not be confused with deferred maintenance equipment program in a RCM, which tracks and maintains the reason for deferred maintenance on specific equipment. (For example: run to failure equipment). This led to the federal community to determine how to meet these requirements and in 1999 the Federal Facilities Council Standing Committee on Operations and Maintenance published Technical Report 141 – Deferred Maintenance for Federal Facilities. This report further defined maintenance as well as repairs. The FASAB is in the process of revisiting the issue of deferred maintenance and how it is defined and determined. Also, a recent GAO report questioned the differences that existed in defining and determining an agency's method of reporting deferred maintenance (see GAO-09-10 Report – Federal Real Property: Government's Fiscal Exposure from Repair and Maintenance Backlogs Is Unclear – October 2008). Also, the FFC has funded research for predicting organizational outcomes anticipated from investments in facilities maintenance and repair. All these efforts will have an impact as to how a federal agency will account for and track maintenance and repair costs and the backlog of deferred maintenance.

Energy and Sustainability. Recent directives have established goals for reducing energy and water usage and improve the sustainability of both new and existing buildings (see EO 13514 – Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, EO 13423 – Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) (PDF 738 KB)). This will impact how facilities operate and how they are maintained. The Federal High Performance and Sustainable Buildings section provides key information needed by Federal personnel to meet high performance and sustainable building requirements.

Emerging Issues

Demolition/Teardowns. Tearing down older or historic buildings and replacing them with new structures that may not be as durable, sustainable or secure is a problem found in many communities in both the government and private sector. Currently there is no single tool available to solve the Teardown problem but rather a combination of strategies works best. Many architects, engineers, and facility O&M personnel don't know where to start or go for best practices. However, one tool available online is "Teardown Tools on the Web," (PDF 2.9 MB) created as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Teardowns Initiative. This tool is intended as an easy-to-share, user-friendly, one-stop-shop highlighting approximately 30 tools and more than 300 examples of best practices being used around the country.

Major Resources

A. Planning and Design Phase

O&M activities start with the planning and design of a facility and continue through its life cycle. During the planning and design phases, the O&M team should be involved and should identify maintenance requirements for inclusion in the design, such as equipment accessibility, built-in condition monitoring, sensor connections, and other O&M requirements that will aid them when the built facility is turned over to the owner/user organization. The O&M team should be represented on the project team so they know ahead of time the types of controls, equipment and systems they will have to maintain once the facility is turned over to them. For more information see "F. Coordinating Staff Capabilities and Training with Equipment and System Sophistication Levels." Consideration should be given for professionally developed system-level O&M Manual(s), rather than the typical vendor-supplied equipment manuals. The Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) initiative should also be a consideration. For larger complexes, O&M staff should consider system-wide integration and compatibility of proposed products with existing systems, including tools, equipment and cleaning supplies. This is where the full system commissioning process starts. WBDG—Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE)

Value Engineering: Projects undergo a design phase estimate to reconcile expected construction costs to project budget. A process of Value Engineering is often brought forward when estimated costs exceed budget costs, but the process is often degraded to comparing first costs alone. The O&M personnel should monitor the value engineering effort to uphold the spirit of process and not dismiss considerations relevant to operating and maintaining the building. Changes in material and equipment must consider the service life of the item, cost of replacement and ease of service or replacement. In short, Life-cycle Cost Analysis must remain part of any value engineering exercise.

ASTM is adopting the following Value Engineering definition for their standard, ASTM E833:

"Value engineering(VE), n. - An organized systematic process of reviewing and analyzing the requirements, functions and elements of projects, products, and processes for the purpose of achieving the essential functions at the lowest life-cycle cost consistent with the required performance, reliability, quality, and safety."

As part of this, the owner, design team, and O&M personnel need to determine the facility life expectancy; also referred to as Design Service Life.

B. Construction Phase

Near the end of the construction phase and prior to facility turnover, vendor/manufacturer O&M manuals are organized and provided to the owner/operator. Typically, personnel are trained in specified areas to support operations. Assurance that the manuals and training are provided may be a part of the Building Commissioning process. In addition, typically part of the construction contract, warranties/activation dates and spare parts information should be organized and tracked. It is important to capture as much facility management data during the construction phase to reduce the cost of gathering this type of information, such as equipment, site, space, and commissioning data.

C. O&M Approach

The O&M organization is typically responsible to operate and maintain the built environment. To accomplish this, the O&M organization must operate the systems and equipment responsibly and maintain them properly. The utility systems may be simple supply lines/systems or may be complete production and supply systems. The maintenance work may include preventive/predictive/(planned) maintenance, corrective (repair) maintenance, deferred maintenance, trouble calls, (e.g., a room is too cold), replacement of obsolete items, predictive testing & inspection, overhaul, and grounds care. O&M organizations may utilize a Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) program that includes "the optimum mix of reactive, time- or interval-based, condition-based, and proactive maintenance (predictive/planned) practices… These primary maintenance strategies, rather than being applied independently, are integrated to take advantage of their respective strengths in order to maximize facility/equipment reliability, while minimizing life-cycle costs." Particularly for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, retro-commissioning is an option to improve operating efficiencies. The O&M team is also typically responsible for maintaining records on deferred maintenance (DM), i.e. maintenance work that has not been accomplished because of some reason-e.g non-availability of funds.

Commissioning takes several forms: Total Building Commissioning (TBCx) for New and Modernized facilities, Re-Commissioning for facilities that have been commissioned before, Retro-Commissioning for facilities that have not been commissioned before and Ongoing-Commissioning for all facilities through the use of technology and partnering with Operations and Maintenance (O&M) service providers.

Total Building Commissioning (TBCx)

It is the process for achieving, validating and documenting that the performance of the total building and its systems meet the design intent and requirements of the owner.

Continuous Commissioning
This is a continuation of the Commissioning Process well into the Occupancy and Operations phase to verify that a project continues to meet current and evolving Owner's Project Requirements. Continuous Commissioning activities are ongoing for the life of the facility.


The term 're-commissioning' means a process:

"(i) of commissioning a facility or system beyond the project development and warranty phases of the facility or system; and

"(ii) the primary goal of which is to ensure optimum performance of a facility, in accordance with design or current operating needs, over the useful life of the facility, while meeting building occupancy requirements.


The term 'retro-commissioning' means a process of commissioning a facility or system that was not commissioned at the time of construction of the facility or system.

Benefits of Commissioning for Buildings - Because all building systems are integrated, a deficiency in one or more components can result in suboptimal operation and performance among other components. Remedying these deficiencies can result in a variety of benefits including:

  • Improved building occupant productivity
  • Lower utility bills through energy savings
  • Increased occupant and owner satisfaction
  • Enhanced environmental/health conditions and occupant comfort
  • Improved system and equipment function
  • Improved building operation and maintenance
  • Increased occupant safety
  • Better building documentation
  • Shortened occupancy transition period
  • Significant extension of equipment/systems life cycle

For a detailed description of the commissioning process see Building Commissioning.

D. Life Cycle O&M

According to the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), the operating life cycle costs of a facility are typically an 80/20 split in favor of O&M — O&M at 57% and capital renewal at 23% make up the 80%, while design and initial first-cost construction accounts for 20%. O&M of the elements included in buildings, structures and supporting facilities is complex and requires a knowledgeable, well-organized O&M team and a skilled, well-trained work force whether the functions are performed in-house or out-sourced. The objective of the O&M team should be to operate, maintain, and improve the facilities to provide reliable, safe, healthful, energy efficient, and effective performance of the facilities to meet their designated purpose throughout their life cycle. To accomplish these objectives, O&M management must manage, direct, and evaluate day-to-day O&M activities and budget funds to support the organization's requirements. For federal agencies Full Life Cycle Costing is a requirement of the 2004 Executive Order 13327—Federal Real Property Asset Management.

E. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems

O&M organizations may utilize Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) to manage their day-to-day operations and to track the status of maintenance work and monitor the associated costs of that work. These systems are vital tools to not only manage day-to-day activities, but also to provide valuable information for preparing facilities key performance indicators (KPIs)/metrics to use in evaluating the effectiveness of current operations and to support organizational and personnel decisions. These systems are starting to be integrated more and more with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies.

F. Coordinating Staff Capabilities and Training with Equipment and System Sophistication Levels

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) teams must address the skill level of their staff in light of the systems and equipment within their facilities, and the management software utilized in facility operations. This extends beyond the in-house staff to any contracted services as well. If the skills required to support installed systems, equipment and technology are scarce, additional training must be provided because equipment and systems will continue to be more sophisticated as smart buildings become the norm.

The natural industry progression is to incorporate technology advances into renovations, major capital repairs, and new building construction. High-tech building systems are being placed into service that current O&M staff are not familiar enough with to properly correct problems when they arise, or to keep operating efficiently. An example of this is building automation systems (BAS). Often untrained personnel will override programmed settings with manual settings that address specific hot/cold call issues, in time these cumulative over-rides will result in un-balanced system-wide operations.

Regardless of sophistication levels, every O&M team should develop training programs and track staff qualifications to ensure they are adequate for existing and planned building systems. This will allow organizations to make improvements to training as needed on an ongoing basis. A recurring training program should consider both the type of skills required and the available labor pool skills in the geographic area. Consideration should be given to the following:

  • Safety/OSHA regulations and guidelines
  • Equipment operational start-up and shutdown procedures
  • Normal operating parameters
  • Emergency procedures
  • Equipment maintenance plans (preventive, predictive, corrective, deferred)
  • The use of proper tools and materials, to include personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Hazardous materials and guidelines

Training programs should be reviewed at least annually and whenever changes are planned for equipment or new facilities. In addition to regular assessments of the O&M team's technical abilities concerning existing equipment, the staff should always be included throughout new project development efforts by design teams. The O&M staff can provide valuable inputs to match the workforce's abilities and training plans with any new equipment. The O&M staff is usually one of the best sources for input on how an existing facility is performing, and they can provide insight into how new equipment will be incorporated into facility MP. The staff may not always understand the underlying cause of a building problem symptom, but they can identify areas that receive repeated attention in efforts to correct a long-standing condition. O&M team inputs can guide designers to address these areas in renovation and equipment upgrade projects. A simpler equipment solution should be pursued if the needs of specific equipment cannot be addressed long-term with available labor resources due to technological levels.

Qualified personnel are needed to operate and maintain facilities at peak efficiencies, and to protect significant investments in systems and equipment. Besides posing a potential physical hazard to themselves and others, untrained personnel can unknowingly damage equipment and cause unnecessary downtime. Inefficient and improper O&M can also void warranties and reduce expected useful life (EUL) of equipment.

Certifications and proper training of O&M service providers protects the organization, employees and visitors. Training sources include manufacturers, professional organizations, trade associations, universities and technical schools, commercial education/training courses, in-house training, and on the job training (OJT) options. Training programs should provide a mix of these sources to the workforce to ensure materials addressed are up to date and applicable to the organization's facilities.

G. Non O&M Work

Most O&M organizations typically also perform work that is beyond the definition of O&M, but is so often required and performed by them, that the work often becomes a part of their responsibility. This work is facilities-related work that is new in nature, and as such, should not be funded by the O&M team's funds but rather by the requesting organization. E.g., from installing an outlet to support a new copier machine, providing a compressed air outlet to a new test bench, day porter services for special event set-ups and moves, or other minor facilities work of like nature to a complete room rehab and/or new, small construction projects. Methods available to document the built environment's condition and its maintenance/repair needs include the periodic Facility Condition Assessments(FCA).

H. Janitorial/Green Cleaning

Training Courses