Your Ultimate Guide to Facility Condition Assessment (FCA): Master the Science of FCA

Written by Ajwad Gebara
A step-by-step definitive guide on how to perform a full-fledged Facility Condition Assessment backed by scientific data. Nadine FCA Software
Nadine International

Introduction

If you are a facility manager planning for the future expenditure of your facilities, you are in the right place. It’s hard to find a definitive guide on how to perform a full-fledged Facility Condition Assessment backed by scientific data. This guide aims to provide you with complete information on all the necessary aspects of a Facility Condition Assessment. To top it up, we have layered our list with a lot of background information, prescriptive steps, checklists, etc. so you don’t get stuck anywhere.

What is a Facility Condition Assessment?

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Facility condition assessment (FCA) is a detailed inspection of the condition of a facility that is carried out in order to make decisions on whether to maintain, repair, or replace the defective assets. It also helps to build data and reports for prioritizing the organization’s buildings across the portfolio for maintenance, repair, or renewal.
The people who perform the assessment are generally professionals like architects, engineers, and skilled technicians.
The assessment is typically done by walk-through inspection to collect the requisite data in terms of the building’s design, construction methods, equipment, and the existing systems.
FCA is performed on government/public, commercial, as well as private facilities.

Note: Please note that the terms Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) and Building Condition Assessment (BCA) means the same and can be used interchangeably.

This is also to be noted that Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) is completely different from Property Condition Assessment (PCA). While FCA is a multi-disciplinary assessment of the building including the details of each and every element/system of the building, PCA is a brief analysis of a commercial real estate asset that typically takes place when a property is to be handed over to its new owner. It is done to make sure that the buyer and seller of the property are aware of the property’s current condition.

While a PCA is generally a one-time document, an FCA is a live document that needs to be updated every time new data comes in. Unlike PCA, the assessment data obtained in an FCA is important over a longer period of time and plays a vast role in the way a facility manager approaches a certain building.

The Four P’s of Facility Condition Assessment

4 P’s of FCA

  • Plan for upcoming expenditures
  • Prioritize the items for maintenance/renewal
  • Perform Preventive maintenance wherever necessary
  • Pursue net-zero target

Buildings (from hospitals to schools to casinos) are the heart of your organization, allowing you to run your operations smoothly. However, buildings and their systems get older day by day and need assessment, maintenance, and renewal.

Renewal funds are always short of supply, and this is where a Building Condition Assessment (BCA) comes into picture . It helps you to optimize your funding and take facility-related actions based on accurate priorities, keeping your buildings in a good state of repair.

Without a Building Condition Assessment and accurate building data, funding and capital planning will be based on a general guess, and not on the scientific data. The consequence of this guesswork, generally, is a mismatch between the required funding and the actual funding achieved. Hence, the building-related initiatives don’t take place as desired, and it creates further chances of building deterioration while it becomes older.
Below are the top 4 interesting reasons why you need a Facility Condition Assessment:

1. Plan for upcoming expenditures

An FCA helps the facility stakeholders to understand how well their facilities are fitted to meet the needs of the organization, this year, next year, and in the upcoming three, five, or ten years. The FCA data gives a holistic view on the physical condition and value of the building’s assets and determines the probability of physical assets running into issues. This invaluable data is the key to making critical decisions about capital budgets.
Accurate capital funding is the key requirement to make any decisions about the repair, renewal, or replacement of the building.

2. Prioritize the items for maintenance/renewal

Across the building portfolio, prioritizing the items for renewal/maintenance on the basis of their current condition is very important. This is where a comprehensive Building Condition Assessment (BCA) comes into the picture. A BCA evaluates your assets and places whatever is most urgent or crucial at the top of your list, whether it is replacing carpet or repairing an HVAC. Also, it becomes clear which assets are critical and which are secondary.

“A Building Condition Assessment gives you a much clearer picture of every piece of equipment within your building. It helps you determine where to target investments. You might discover that replacing the whole set of sprinklers was not even required, and millions of dollars could be saved.”

Ashar Khan, Director, Building Science at Nadine International Inc.

3. Perform Preventive maintenance wherever necessary

An FCA helps you keep your assets in a good state of repair, reducing the likelihood of their breakdown, and you ultimately have less downtime throughout the life of the asset. A detailed FCA helps you focus your preventive maintenance where it’s most needed, by identifying the exact health status of all your assets. Moreover, an FCA helps you make more economical use of maintenance workers due to working on a scheduled basis instead of a crash basis to repair breakdowns. The overtime costs are reduced, too.

4. Pursue net-zero target

The researchers are clear: To avoid the worst climate effects, the carbon emissions will need to drop by half by 2030, and reach net-zero around 2050. A number of countries are committed to moving to a net-zero emissions economy. This is in response to climate science showing that in order to control climate change, carbon emissions have to stop; just reducing them is not enough. A Building Condition Assessment helps with the required inputs to make energy-efficient changes, and achieve net-zero targets by gradually reducing carbon footprint in your facility.

Steps to a Successful Facility Condition Assessment

5 steps to conducting a successful Facility Condition Assessment

  • Site inspection by a consulting team
  • Collection of assessment data
  • Building the assessment report
  • Analysis of the report
  • Presentation of the report to decision-makers

1. Site inspection by a consulting team

The very first step of a Facility Condition Assessment is to do a preliminary preparation for the inspection. This includes the mobilization of the consulting team of engineers and arranging site access for them. The consulting team should include architects, a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a structural engineer, and a cost estimator. In some inspection, there is also a need for civil engineers, security consultants, architectural historians, environmental experts, and others, depending on the nature and existing condition of the building.

While selecting an FCA team, make sure it has the most knowledgeable and experienced people required to undertake a detailed and comprehensive building inspection. The consulting team should be very clear about the full scope of the project, and the roles and responsibilities should be assigned as per the project specific briefing. The team should be given the flexibility to bring in creative and innovative ideas to address the unique aspects of the individual project.

2. Collection of assessment data

While the consulting team inspects a facility, all the assessment data needs to be collected, reviewed and stored at a place – drawings, digital pictures, documentation, contact information for all project stakeholders, etc. The consulting team also performs on-site walkthroughs and interviews with the building staff to gauge the conditions and challenges of working in the building. These interviews generally aim to answer some of the below questions:

  • Major projects performed in the last 5 years
  • Ongoing projects, their scopes, and estimated costs
  • In-plan projects and their scopes
  • Any recurring or high-maintenance issues regarding any of the systems
  • Any active leaks or infiltrations from the building envelope
  • Any particular concerns

This interview data, too, needs to be listed somewhere in order to keep tab of all the conversations that happened with the interviewees. Some consulting teams also use specific apps to take notes of all these findings so that no single information gets lost in between the whole procedure.

All these findings during the building inspection play a very critical role in creating the assessment reports, and hence should not be missed in any case.

3. Building the assessment report

 

The consulting team provides you with a detailed report of the assessment. This generally includes:

Executive Summary: The executive summary covers the below information:

  • 5 Year requirements
  • 30 Year budgets
  • 30 Year budgets based on Uniformat level 1

Introduction: The introduction covers the below information:

  • Terms of Reference
  • Project Team and Documentation
  • Limitations
  • Assumptions
  • Asset Details

Assessment Summary: An assessment summary consists of the below information:

  • Overview of Structural Condition
  • Overview of Architectural Condition
  • Overview of Heritage Character and Treasury Board (TBS) Requirements
  • Overview of Seismic
  • Overview of Site Condition
  • Overview of Vertical and Horizontal Transportation Condition
  • Overview of Mechanical Systems Condition
  • Overview of Electrical Systems Condition
  • Overview of Fire Building Information
  • Compliance with TBS Requirements
  • Regulatory Testing Compliance
  • Code Compliance Summary
  • Overview of Environmental Issues
  • Compliance with Accessibility Standards
  • Overview of Project Grouping

5 year Expenditure Summary: The 5 year expenditure summary consists of the below details:

  • 5 year Expenditure Chart
  • 5 year Expenditure Graph
  • 5 year Detailed Expenditure Table

30 year Expenditure Summary: Similarly, the 30 year expenditure summary consists of the below details:

  • 30 year Expenditure Chart
  • 30 year Expenditure Graph
  • 30 year Detailed Expenditure Table

Detailed System/Requirement Analysis: The report also gives a detailed analysis of the different systems in the building:

  • System description
  • Service life
  • Actual age
  • Current Replacement Value
  • Requirement statement
  • Requirement justification and strategy
  • Implication of requirement deferral

Renewal needs and Facility Condition Index (FCI): This section of the report gives the renewal cost of the building, as well as Facility Condition Index, that tells the condition of the building.

4. Analysis of the report

The assessment report needs to be thoroughly analyzed and taken into consideration for building future plans regarding the replacement/renewal of the building.

This is generally done by the facility managers and the other facility executives who are actively involved in the FCA process. Post this, the report is also reviewed by the peers to examine all the data and check for loopholes if any.

5. Presentation of the report to decision-makers

In the final stage of the Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) process, the assessment report is presented to the management and the decision-makers. The ultimate purpose of a Facility Condition Assessment is to make data-driven decisions about the facility and ensure that the budgeting needs are in line with the projections being made. The management and decision-makers of the facility need to ensure that accurate inference is drawn from the report, and a decision is taken accordingly.

What is Facility Condition Index (FCI)?

Facility Condition Index (FCI) is an industry-standard metric that provides a benchmark of a facility’s condition.
FCI is calculated as:

For instance, an FCI of 0.1 indicates that the cost of repairs is significantly lower than the cost of replacing the whole facility. On the other hand, an FCI of 0.9 means that the building needs very large-scale repairs and replacements, which will almost cost as much as the building replacement itself. It means that the condition of the building has extremely deteriorated. More the FCI ratio, more is the severity of the building’s condition.

Increased Sustainability through Facility Condition Assessment

FCA decisions have a great impact on sustainability, whether it is financial, environmental, or social sustainability. The biggest challenge of a facility manager is to meet the facility needs of the organization and stay in alignment with the organization’s commitment to financial, environmental, and social responsibilities.
Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) plays a critical role in providing facility condition and budget data for the well-being of facilities. Even though a facility team generally performs an FCA to make budget-related decisions, these decisions have a straight-forward impact on the environmental and social factors associated with the buildings.

1. Reduced Energy Consumption

If a building has a lot of defects, energy consumption is much higher than actually required. Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) identifies the defects in the equipment of the building. Following this, the operations required to fix those defects are also carried out. This, in turn, reduces the consumption of energy up to a great extent.
Despite the fact that an FCA is not an energy audit, it uncovers the very obvious need to repair and replace the critical equipment of the building. When equipment is preserved at proper intervals, overall it becomes more energy efficient.

2. Better Work Environment

FCA can identify the areas of improvement that help build better work environments, such as, improved comfort level for the occupants. For example, the proper functioning of the HVAC systems and less radiance from perfectly operating lights will certainly improve the amount of convenience that the occupants will experience, making the building a much better place to work in.

3. Stronger Social Relations

Better the work environment, more is the productivity of the work carried out within the building. When productivity is increased, the business automatically tends to achieve higher customer satisfaction rates. This, in turn, will build stronger relationships with the customers, as well as increase the chances of getting recurring business from them.

Benefits of a Facility Condition Assessment software

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5 Benefits of FCA Software

  • Better Criticality Review
  • Optimized Funding across the assets
  • Improved Asset Tracking and Management
  • Work Order Fulfillment
  • Preventive Maintenance Scheduling

1. Better Criticality Review

The facility assessment reports, generally, are extra lengthy and require a lot of deep digging to access the most critical information.

An FCA software has the unique capability of providing its users a better and summarized building inspection report of the condition of the building, typically in one or two pages. The color-coded heat map makes it easier to visually understand and prioritize the maintenance or renewal needs. This also gives you an extra edge in terms of business case development, project justification, investment analysis reports, etc.

In short, there’s no more need to read lengthy reports. One map explains it all!

2. Optimized Funding across the assets

With several buildings and respective stakeholders in place, it becomes more difficult than ever to make the best use of available funds. There is a real lack of flexibility in optimizing future funding expenditure.

The FCA software applies advanced algorithms that help you justify your renewal needs and obtain funding, and maintain a balanced facility condition index (FCI) across all assets.

Furthermore, it gives you the capability to create unlimited funding scenarios for better decision making, in a scientific way. You can superimpose the scenarios that best meet your needs, prioritize your facilities based on the criticality, and build requirements that fit into your budget.

3. Improved Asset Tracking and Management

Tracking the assets via spreadsheets and manual analysis can be extremely daunting and time-consuming, especially for a business with assets in various locations.
An automated Building Condition Assessment software comes along with the most important feature of managing and tracking different assets spread across various locations. On a basic level, this feature helps to track the progress of all the critical equipment across your buildings – their actual age, current health status, the due date for renewal, and much more. By doing this, you can benchmark and compare the condition of your assets in real-time.
Applying technology gives you more flexibility over building management and asset handling of maintenance and contractual responsibilities.

4. Work Order Fulfillment

Being one of the facility managers, there come several occasions in the day in and day out of your schedule when you run to an office desktop to complete time-sensitive work orders. And, this might have definitely left you wondering, Will my life become much simpler if all this gets automated, simplified, and controlled?

The answer, of course, is, Yes.

Work order tracking allows you to schedule and provide the team with a planned job to ensure smooth work without delays or interruptions. Work orders can be submitted and tracked easily, allowing you to quickly gauge the costs associated with repairs/renewals of your assets.

Also, with automatic email alerts, facility teams never miss out on a scheduled inspection or preventive maintenance. This allows them to take full control of their tasks and constantly make improvements.

5. Preventive Maintenance Scheduling

Downtime and failure rate of your equipment maintenance can be much higher than you would expect, especially if you work in a reactive or ‘firefighting’ scenario.

Preventive Maintenance feature of the FCA software allows you to streamline every aspect of your preventive maintenance program, including development, scheduling, and tracking. It enables you to generate meter-based PMs and set up PM schedules, which prevents any future failures and reduces the overall downtime.

What is net-zero target?

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Wikipedia says that in order to avoid increased global warming to reach a tipping point, there is a need to stabilize and reverse emissions in the building sector. This is because building construction and operation activities generate nearly 40% of annual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
Researchers have already indicated a great need to make all new buildings and renovations carbon-neutral by the year 2030 to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change caused by the building sector. And, by 2050, carbon emissions should reach net-zero.

Sometimes, net-zero is also referred to as ‘carbon neutrality’.

“Our commitment to achieving net-zero emissions should remain intact. We all must recognize this pressing need, and investments should be made towards carbon removal across the government, private, and public sectors.”

Ajwad Gebara, President at Nadine International Inc.

The Roadmap to net-zero target

The Roadmap to net-zero target

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Advanced Heat Recovery
  • On-Site Renewable Energy
  • Net Zero Assessment Report

The roadmap to net-zero is clear: achieving a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, and the carbon eliminated from it. The carbon emissions from buildings, transport, and farming will need to be cut.

However, the building and construction industry stands as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon emissions, accounting for both operational and ingrown carbon, as per the Global Status Report 2017.

The following is our proposed 4-step process to lay the foundations for progression towards Net-Zero target:

1. Energy Efficiency
  • Level 1 energy audit for all 109 Buildings under the Facility Condition Assessment (FCA)
  • Providing electrical capacity and how much additional electrification will be possible considering installed capacity and hydro utility records.
  • Collection of additional data for energy target analytics.
  • Benchmarking and energy target analytics to quantify the energy, utility cost and emissions reduction potential and identify the energy components where the bigsavings are to be found.
2. Advanced Heat Recovery
  • Capturing the additional information needed to assess heat recovery potential, including:
    • Equipment such as refrigerators and IT
    • Process loads such as ice plants and pool dehumidifiers
    • Ventilation heat recovery potential including locations and capacities of exhaust and makeup air fans and HRV feasibility
    • Water heat recovery from pools and drains
    • Heat recovery chiller feasibility including the presence of chilled water loop
    • Feasibility of conversion to variable refrigerant flow or heat pump system
  • Using FCA information on equipment condition, remaining life, capacity, and physical space availability for alternative design configurations.
  • Providing a high-level analysis of advanced heat recovery potential for each facility.
3. On-Site Renewable Energy
  • Capturing the additional information needed to assess on-site renewable energy potential, including:
    • Air-source heat pump
    • Geothermal
  • The On-Site Renewable Energy step for air-source and ground-source heat will build on the building system and equipment information to assess the potential for a geothermal field (including any accessible water or municipal sewer heat sources) and for individual or central air source heat pumps to supply part or all of the residual heating requirements after steps 1 and 2.
  • Results will be presented for each building as the residual heat quantity together with a pass/fail assessment of practicality factors (such as access to heat sources, ground condition and existing HVAC systems). The analysis aims to identify the most promising opportunities for further detailed analysis.
  • Using FCA information on equipment condition, remaining life, capacity and physical space availability for alternative design configurations.
  • Providing a high-level analysis of on-site renewable energy potential for each facility.
4. Net Zero Assessment Report

Preparing a report with findings for each building, documenting its progression from baseline to least carbon emissions through practical applications of energy efficiency, heat recovery and on-site renewable energy and quantifying the remaining emissions to be addressed with renewable energy credits or carbon offsets. 2050 is seen as the realistic year for net-zero emissions to be achieved. Is it really possible to achieve net-zero by 2050? Of course, it’s a bold target, but policy mechanisms, new technology, and increasing awareness are enabling the building industry to embrace this challenge.

What after a Facility Condition Assessment is done?

Facility Condition Assessment data is highly time-sensitive and can quickly become outdated, especially if corrective action is not promptly taken. Once an FCA is completed, the assessment data should be revisited and regularly updated. The process should be subject to regular iterations and adjustments as per the changing conditions, technologies, and circumstances.

A Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) software helps you not to lose the track of the data, and maintain real-time and updated information across your buildings.

The checklist for a Facility Condition Assessment

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A successful Building Condition Assessment (BCA) is accomplished with the right approach and a planned series of tasks. Enough information has to be provided to the consulting team before they go for a BCA. Here is the checklist that the facility team needs to hand over:

  • Drawings and documentation including Architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical drawings
  • Latest floor plans
  • Latest Electrical single line diagram
  • Fire Safety Plan and/or Emergency Response Plan.
  • Available Equipment lists
  • Latest Annual Inspection reports for the fire alarm, sprinklers, standpipe, emergency lighting fire extinguishers, energy audit and indoor air quality
  • Latest generator annual test report.
  • Asbestos/ hazardous material report.
  • List of confined spaces.
  • Environmental Surveys and reports
  • Notice of violation from Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) or code/ safety issues if any
  • List of ongoing and future projects
  • List of any known issues with any building systems
  • Any previous study or survey reports

Your Key Take-Aways

At the conclusion, here are your key take-aways:

  • Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) helps you secure the right funding and take facility-related actions based on accurate priorities, keeping your buildings in a good state of repair.
  • The four P’s of an FCA are: Planning your upcoming expenditure, Prioritizing the items for maintenance/renewal, Performing Preventive maintenance wherever necessary, and Pursuing net-zero target.
  • Before conducting the FCA, the consulting team of the engineers should be made clear about the full scope of the project. It’s the responsibility of the facility managers to give the team a fair understanding of what data to survey and collect, and how to prioritize and categorize the project needs.
  • A Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) software simplifies and streamlines the whole work process and improves consistency and efficiency within the facility teams.
  • Once an FCA is finished, corrective actions should be taken based on the findings within a set time period after the assessment is complete.
  • Building management professionals need to make scientific and data-driven decisions about their buildings to ensure that the budgeting stays in line with the projections.
  • The roadmap to net-zero has four important steps – Energy efficiency, Advanced heat recovery, On-site renewable energy, net-zero assessment report.

Though conducting an FCA might seem like a challenging task, it’s absolutely essential in monitoring your building’s well-being and keeping it in a good state of repair.
With all the above information, we hope that you’ll be prepared to access your building condition and secure the right funding for its maintenance, repair/renewal.
know how we can help you make better capital decisions for your building.

About the Author

Nadine International

Ajwad Gebara, B.Sc., P.Eng.

President and Consulting Engineer

Ajwad is the founder and President of Nadine International Inc. He has over thirty-five (35) years of experience in the industry, and has managed over 3,000 projects.