IFMA Releases Benchmarking Report

Feb. 16, 2006
Study reveals increase in utility costs affecting facilities in all industries

Amidst constant reports in the media of higher utility costs, the Intl. Facility Management Association (IFMA) has released a research report which confirms that organizations across the board are experiencing higher costs than in previous years. Seventy-five percent of the 630 facilities with data included in the research report have experienced an increase in utility costs, with 20 percent reporting an increase of 10 percent or higher.

Some of the report highlights include:

  • The cost of natural gas increased more than 40 percent, while electricity costs decreased 3 percent, since 2004.
  • An average of 367 rentable square feet of space is allotted per occupant.
  • 57 percent of washrooms are cleaned once a day, while 40 percent of washrooms are cleaned more frequently.
  • 47 percent of phones are never sanitized, whereas 10 percent are cleaned once a day by janitorial staff.

The study which led to IFMA’s Operations and Maintenance Benchmarks research report encompassed approximately 420 million square feet, providing data for office facilities, headquarters, and other types of facilities including research, museums, hospitals, clinics, call centers, factories, courthouses, airports, and correctional facilities.

“Most of the costs we examined stayed the same as in the previous study conducted in 2004; however, we saw a large swing in utility costs,” said Shari Epstein, IFMA’s associate director of research.

The cost of natural gas increased more than 40 percent whereas electricity costs decreased by 3 percent. Natural gas prices shot up in the past year due to a colder than average winter, tighter supplies, and increased growth in the economy. Utility costs vary by market and that is reflected in the report. Seventy-two percent of respondents indicated fluctuations in rates as the primary reason for the rise in utility costs, while 30 percent attributed the rise in costs to changes in consumption.

Adjusting the operations of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and replacing and retrofitting light fixtures are some of the more common energy conservation practices that have been implemented during the previous year, according to the report.

In addition to information on utility costs, the report includes dollar-per-square-foot averages for housekeeping and maintenance costs, along with practices and staffing ratios.

The report explores how often common janitorial tasks such as cleaning, dusting, polishing, vacuuming, and waxing are performed. One of the interesting findings regarding janitorial contracts is that 45 percent are based upon performance and 55 percent are based upon task and frequency.

The report also revealed that square footage per person in a workplace has stayed relatively the same since 2004. The current average rentable square foot per occupant is 367, a slight decrease of 2 feet.

Information was collected for the research report through surveys which were mailed to IFMA professional members in the United States and Canada in May 2005. More than 650 surveys were returned with 630 deemed usable for analysis.

The full Operations and Maintenance Benchmarks research report is available for sale in IFMA’s bookstore at ( or by calling (713) 623-4362. The cost is $60 (U.S.) for the association’s members and $120 (U.S.) for non-members.

This information was reprinted from the Intl. Facility Management Association (IFMA) website ( IFMA is the largest and most widely recognized professional association for facility management, supporting approximately 18,000 members. The association's members are represented in 125 chapters, 15 councils, and one Special Interest Group (SIG), in 56 countries worldwide. Globally, IFMA certifies facility managers, conducts research, provides educational programs, recognizes facility management degree and certificate programs, and produces World Workplace, the largest facility management-related conference and exposition. IFMA members annually purchase approximately $81 billion in property, products, and services. For more information about IFMA, visit (

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