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Last month I attended APPA’s Virtual Town Hall entitled “Healthy, Smart Buildings and Why you Should Care, expertly hosted by Lander Medlin, EVP at APPA. Many great panelists were discussing this pressing topic, including:

 • Rob Murchison, Harvard Professor, Principal and Co-Founder of Intelligent Buildings, LLC, a smart building consultancy,
Emmanuel H.R. Daniel– Microsoft’s Director of Digital Transformation of Smart Buildings & Campuses and 
• Adam Gogolski of Gordian, a facilities data firm that’s “bridging the boiler room and the board room.” 

The audience consisted primarily of Facilities Managers at schools and universities across the US, who are all grappling with the same issue:

How do we get students, educators, and staff back into our buildings?

A = Awareness

“Buildings are central to our lives and our livelihoods – we spend 90% of our time in them,” Lander Medlin points out, adding that “the health of the buildings affects the health of those inside” and that “the people who manage our buildings have a greater impact on our health than doctors!”

Smart buildings need to be healthy buildings.

To get occupants to come back to school, FMs need to guarantee their health and make them feel safer in school buildings than anywhere else.

Rob Murchison continued with, “Smart building initiatives have been historically focused on energy costs and consumption (the “3” in the 3/30/300 rule) and not on the productivity of the people inside. FMs running energy-only programs are compromising the intellectual costs.”

B = Building System Optimization  

The adage, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, certainly applies here in that schools need to quantify that they are optimizing their building systems. Educational facility managers are challenged with finding a tool that can help them measure their buildings’ optimization. Without this, how can they ask management to invest in their buildings? Some big questions posed by the panelists at APPA include:

Should we use technology? 

Do we have a strategy to adopt technology?

Are we able to adopt these strategies? 

The good news is that APPA members are looking to create a smart, healthy building framework, including a building HPI (Health Performance Index), which relies on collecting actionable data to measure if buildings are detrimental to occupants.

Their mission is clear, schools that leverage technology to prepare for the future will differentiate themselves in the market. 

Put simply, FM needs to partner with IT. 

For some, this partnership may sound daunting. The good news is that there are technologies out there that make it easy for Facilities Management to bridge the gap between the built environment and the data environment. 

C = Compliance Intelligence

Many states and municipalities have now mandated that school janitorial services adhere to stricter hygiene and sanitization requirements, adding to an Educational FM’s challenges to create healthy buildings. Superintendents, Administrators, and Facilities Managers across the country are under pressure to validate that janitorial services have been performed regularly and according to operational, health, and safety requirements to ensure staff, students, and parents’ comfort level.  

As most school districts are grappling with tightened budgets, school facilities management faces a significant challenge to deploy a solution that is affordable, transparent, easy to deploy, and compliant with these regulatory requirements.  

Companies like Intralogic Solutions are using Equip ID’s Technology Assisted Guidance (TAG) to help schools mitigate bio risk and ensure compliance with janitorial mandates, restoring confidence in educational facilities’ cleanliness. Using Near Field Communication (NFC) tags placed outside classrooms, restrooms, and offices, the Equip ID platform provides “Compliance Intelligence” – tracking and validating that performed cleaning, and disinfection services were on time and in compliance with safety guidelines.

NFC tags are an innovative solution helping make ‘dumb,’ non-IoT enabled components in buildings, such as physical spaces, into smart ones. Programs like this are easy to deploy and feed actionable data into any healthy building framework.

Are you an educational facilities manager challenged with leveraging technology to create smart, healthy, and compliant school buildings?

Please share your story with us!