Building owners and managers know that planning for facility success means proactively managing a seemingly unending list of needs. It’s a job that requires wearing many hats, but implementing a few best practices can make that list just a little more manageable. When the size of the building portfolio is off balance with the organization’s productivity, owners may look to implement a space utilization and optimization plan that will identify beneficial changes to property and assets.
Many think of building consolidation when they hear the term “space optimization.” Merging facilities and dumping unused space can result in lower operation and maintenance costs, as well as reduced real estate operating costs. For this reason, building owners who reduce their portfolios find consolidation to be a productive and profitable practice. Facility expansion can also help optimize organizations by improving productivity with additional locations or enlarged inventory. These three considerations help you plan for optimal space utilization when consolidating or expanding facilities.
- Cost Savings
Often, the catalyst for a change of this magnitude is to cut costs. The space utilization changes themselves, though, will have expenses associated with them. Building owners must consider those costs in conjunction with the resulting savings. What are the specific costs associated with maintaining each facility, and how might those costs change if a facility were closed? What are the costs associated with changing locations? Will delivery or fuel costs be impacted if routes change?
Some organizations have found consolidation to be an answer to their cost challenges. School districts with aging and deteriorating facilities or low attendance, for example, have sought to combine with other districts in efforts to trim operating costs. Other organizations may opt to transform rarely used areas into multi-purpose spaces like areas that double as meeting rooms or eating spaces, or consolidate operations or occupants in an effort to reduce property holdings.
- Organizational Productivity
Building owners must understand how the space is truly being used before making changes. Start by collecting and evaluating occupancy data. Perform a traffic analysis to discern levels of usage throughout the day, week and month. Is there enough space to combine the contents of one building with another? Plot the location of all facilities to gain an understanding of which facility assets can be moved or combined. Once all of the necessary data is collected and assessments performed, the building owner may identify the assets that may be moved or vacated to attain a more productive building portfolio.
- Energy Efficiency
Space and energy optimization go hand in hand, with many building owners implementing sustainability plans simultaneous to space utilization improvements. Owners and managers who seek to make the most of their budgets by decreasing operating and maintenance costs and slashing real estate costs may pursue energy efficiencies that further reduce costs. Many of these improvements can be made without expanding the building portfolio. Green updates that don’t require additional space include: placing permeable surfaces in existing areas for improved irrigation, changing rooftops to living roofs that absorb rainwater and boost insulation, and adding solar panels on existing rooftops, in parking lots or on adjacent flat areas.
Building owners and managers who seek to make space utilization changes should consider productivity, cost savings and energy efficiency prior to implementing their plans. These three considerations will help guide them through the space optimization process and allow organizations to reach their top potential.
Keith Greene is the Director of Special Projects at The Gordian Group. He can be reached at k.greene@TheGordianGroup.com.
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