How to keep buildings in focus
As the pandemic slowly winds down, it’s incumbent on managers to keep the public’s attention on the importance of the link between facilities and human health.
Recently in this space, I asked if buildings were trying to kill us, and I was only a little facetious. I was referring to the realization that ventilation systems and surfaces in many institutional and commercial facilities had played a role in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, a series of events have reminded us that buildings can pose a threat to human health. A piece of a Chicago office building crashed into the sidewalk below. A skyscraper in San Francisco has been found to tilt 3 inches more every year. Earthquake drills in Seattle revealed the precarious condition of many of the city’s brick buildings.
Of course, such events have been happening for years, and they often quickly fade from memory. That’s my point. Our society does a great job of erecting shiny new buildings and a poor job of providing the means to maintain them effectively.
This is where maintenance and engineering managers come in. The pandemic has helped the general public understand that buildings and human health are closely linked and people ignore the condition of buildings at their peril. But that message is fading fast.
The challenge for managers is to keep the public’s attention on the critical role of facility maintenance and engineering. No one understands buildings better than maintenance and engineering managers. They have in-depth technical knowledge of building operations and the management experience to craft an effective message about the need to maintain these buildings.
Should managers play Chicken Little and shout about falling buildings? Perhaps, if being alarmist helps ensure that building owners and the public remember a crucial lesson of the pandemic. Whatever the tactic, the goal is to keep maintenance at the forefront of any facilities discussion.