Book Review

Buildings... The Gifts That Keep On Taking

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Fortunately for me, I began my facilities management career in 1988, where I still serve today at Dallas Theological Seminary. Formulating the planned capital renewal process was already under way for about 10 years by our industry giants such as Harvey Kaiser, Robert Brooks, Rodney Rose, and many others. So I was able to cut my teeth in this era.


In 1991, our school’s President's Office received a complementary copy of one of the early publications that was a joint project by APPA and the Lilly Endowment called, “Today’s Challenge to Tomorrow’s Vision: A Study of Facilities Conditions At Schools of Theology.” The book made its way down to me, and I was forever changed from a facilities manager to facilities leader and visionary.


Essentially, our jobs are about facilities portfolio management of existing facilities; however, often we’re faced with campus leadership excited about a donor who is ready to contribute large sums toward a new facility that has not been on the radar or programmed with a revenue source for funding sustainable functionality through its design life.  This is a very difficult situation for a facility manager who will ultimately inherit the facility to preserve without the needed funds to do so properly.


The “Buildings… The Gifts That Keep On Taking” by Rod Rose as primary author, is an elegantly written fresh look at the tried and true practices of the planned capital renewal discipline of long-term owned facilities; it includes historical data and research by APPA’s Center for Facilities Research (CFaR) with a Total Cost of Ownership twist.


Included are new concepts, techniques, and planning strategies, such as the Strategic Investment Pyramid, which leads organizations to ask the most important questions first when considering a new facility. Why Invest? What can we afford? When and Where to Invest? How Much Should We Invest? Then they are led up the pyramid to Facilities Data & Matrices, Decision Perspectives, and Asset Investment Strategy.  


Effective use of the Strategic Investment Pyramid has a number of significant benefits. It focuses on the investment value of facilities and promotes integrated planning and budgeting, providing an excellent tool for making the business case for alternative solutions to facility needs. Therefore, establishing a sustainable funding model for existing and proposed facilities to preserve the facility’s maximum effectiveness functionality for life.


The book provides a good understanding of the Total Cost of Ownership. The first cost of a facility is only 1/3 of the full cost of ownership during a facility’s design life. Seldom does anyone think about how they are going to pay for the remaining 2/3 of the cost.


There should never be a facility manager, or one aspiring to be, without knowledge of the concepts and techniques provided in this book.


While it has taken almost 20 years, my institution is almost in line with the concepts of planned capital renewal, and the momentum cannot be stopped now. We now consider the existing facility’s renewal needs and reuse capabilities before building new. My congratulations and thanks to all those who contributed to the “Buildings… The Gifts That Keep On Taking” to bring light to the stewardship issue of facility ownership!

Kevin Folsom 3/08