“The variety.” It’s the answer so many facilities professionals give when asked what they like most about their job. Ron Sutton, facility operations/maintenance manager, City of Eugene, OR, is no different. His career with the City of Eugene has made versatility and determination – two character traits Sutton possesses – not only a plus, but a requirement. As the industry has evolved and the city’s resources grew tight, Sutton has kept his feet firmly planted in the present and his eyes fixated on the future.
Sutton joined the City of Eugene’s facilities management division when it was in its infancy, at a time when deferred maintenance and its effects on the city’s 100 buildings necessitated more consistent maintenance and management attention. With more than 2 million square feet to maintain and operate, Sutton and his team of 60 professionals are responsible for a multitude of building types – ranging from City Hall to swimming pools, senior centers, and fire and police stations. “Over the years, our responsibilities have just continued to grow. What we started out doing 10 or 12 years ago seems pretty basic now,” jokes Sutton.
Recently, the city began implementing a networked electronic access control system both in new construction projects and existing buildings. “We’ve started to implement electronic access controls in all of our new buildings, and then along with that, we’ve started going back in some of the existing buildings and retrofitting with proximity card technology. When a system like that is in place, it’s fairly seamless, but just getting the system in place to start with has been a lot of upfront work [and] a lot of planning,” Sutton explains. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), energy utility tracking software, and custodial software are also being utilized. These tools have helped Sutton and his team work more effectively and efficiently, especially with limited resources.
With a new focus on sustainable maintenance and management, the City of Eugene is paying close attention to its facilities’ impacts on Mother Nature. Landscaping with plants native to the area has become a new initiative for Sutton’s group. “That’s been one of those things that if 10 years ago, someone had said I’d be doing this, I wouldn’t have believed them,” Sutton says. The project has been as educational as it has been rewarding for the operations/maintenance staff.
Following attendance at the International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA’s) annual World Workplace event, the energy analyst on Sutton’s team got an idea. Her training session on the U.S. Green Building Council’s pilot program, LEED for Existing Buildings rating system (LEED-EB), was the inspiration. “We sat down and started talking about how we might use the Existing Buildings guidelines to take a look at our maintenance and operations and evaluate what we were doing and where we [could] make improvements,” explains Sutton. The two individuals will be sharing information about this process and the results at IFMA’s World Workplace 2004 in Salt Lake City this coming October.
As a member of IFMA and an active participant in the organization’s Public Sector Council, Sutton is an advocate for the benefits of networking and continual education. “Nobody has time to reinvent the wheel every time you turn around,” he says. On a constant journey toward success, Sutton and his team are building a firm foundation for the City of Eugene’s prosperous future.
Jana J. Madsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor at Buildings magazine.