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"Integrating Sustainability Programs into the Facilities Capital Planning Process"
Author: Buchanan, Susan,
Published In: Facilities Manager
Date: March/April 2011

With detailed information about the costs and benefits of potential green investments, educational facilities can effectively evaluate which initiatives will ultimately provide the greatest results over the short and long term. Based on its overall goals, every school, college, or university will have different values and therefore different strategies. With enrollment becoming more competitive with campus sustainability practices and policies growing as a criteria for school selection, the visibility of facilities operations and management is becoming more prominent. The many potential greening initiatives educational facilities can undertake compete with a myriad of other capital and operational investments. This includes systems renewal, building renovations and new construction. Moreover, there is competition for funds with the educational mission itself. While schools may single out opportunities to improve building sustainability for analysis, ultimately those investments will need to be assessed in the context of other building requirements and infrastructure demands of the pedagogical mission. Having a broad umbrella approach to sustainability (including energy, water, indoor environmental quality, site sustainability, and materials use) is important, but the focus recently has been on prioritizing sustainability projects that provide a clear return on investment (ROI). Educational facilities are more involved in defining "real-life" practical ways to fund and accomplish their overall greening goals, while at the same time maintaining the desired condition of their facilities within a given budget. This article discusses four important considerations in order to optimize sustainable capital investments: (1) Mission and mandate; (2) Improved efficiency; (3) Day-to-day operations; and (4) Long-range planning. Following these fundamentals enables colleges and universities to successfully integrate sustainability goals into their facilities capital planning process. In this article, the author looks at the process of integrating sustainability into capital planning in more detail.

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