BUILDINGS - Smarter Facilities Management


A Day in the Life of Kathy Barnes

Change Is Good


Up Close and Personal

Kathy, what is your most important tool?

My computer.

What do you like least about being a facilities manager?

Our property is open 22 hours a day, five days a week. We need to be able to provide a response if there is an emergency or mechanical failure. I am very loyal and I like this place, but you never do leave.


I would say the opportunity to solve problems. [I enjoy] being able to think quickly, to anticipate a problem before it occurs.

Two people you would like to meet?

That changes from day to day depending on whether I am in a serious or comic mood. Today, I would like to meet Bill Cosby or Jerry Seinfeld. Bring me the humor!

What phrase fits Kathy Barnes to a tee? Loves a challenge. Barnes has served in facilities management for eight years, four of those as the facilities and property director for the Medical Center Building in Vancouver, WA. The center is comprised of two connected facilities, four and five stories respectively. Covering 120,000 square feet, the multi-tenant space primarily houses medical practices and specialties, such as oncology, neurology, and infusion services.

Barnes entered the field of facilities management after working in marketing. In her former employer’s marketing department, Barnes was assigned to work with the facilities department during a modernization project. Her colleagues sent their condolences, but she loved the challenge. “I was hooked after my first remodel,” she says. Barnes was captivated by the details and the interaction among the contractors and the architects. Before working in marketing, Barnes had a lot of experience working in human resources.

Her years of varied professional experience have helped her tremendously in her current position as a facilities manager. “I am the human resources manager, I am the facilities manager, I am the property manager, I am the finance manager. I have all those hats,” she notes.

“A typical day is to expect the unexpected,” adds Barnes. Currently, she has been wrestling with a major modernization project. The organization is nearing the time for its 10-year lease renewals and about 40,000 square feet are being renovated. The organization is considering alternatives for its heating and ventilation systems, as well as evaluating energy management programs.

Like many facilities professionals, Barnes is looking for solutions to skyrocketing energy rates. In the future, the organization is considering giving high-energy-using tenants their own metering system. The current modernization project is also focused on creating energy-efficient spaces (i.e., lighting controls for small zones instead of lighting entire suites during off-hours).

“Today, the biggest challenge is to continually implement cost-effective methods for energy management,” says Barnes. The center encourages its tenants to share ideas on energy saving with the facilities management department.

With 3,000 to 4,000 patients visiting the facilities each day, the Medical Center Building is a thriving part of a bustling medical community. Many of the patients are senior citizens, and Barnes and her entire staff always show them respect and consideration. “They are probably not feeling their best and they could be frustrated by just trying to find the [correct] building. What is impressive about my staff is that they really pick up on that and help guide people. I have seen them walk people to another property to help them get to where they need to be,” she says. The facilities themselves were designed to best serve this community.

Barnes is dedicated to helping others and her motto is “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Recently, a love of aviation has blossomed into a powerful desire to become a helicopter pilot for an air ambulance. Between spending time with her family and the demands of her current position, Barnes spends every spare moment studying for her pilot’s license. It’s yet another big move, but Barnes loves a challenge.

Regina Raiford ( is senior editor at Buildings magazine.


comments powered by Disqus

Sponsored Links