Welcome to our comprehensive glossary of terms page dedicated to real estate and property management. Managing real estate and building facility assets involves a complex array of concepts and practices, making a solid understanding of the terminology essential for success.  

This guide aims to provide users with a collection of key terms and concepts related to real estate operations management.  

image of a real estate manager using operational software

Access Control System 

Definition: An access control system is used to regulate and control entry into a building or specific areas within it. It typically includes mechanisms like keycards, biometric scanners, or keypad entry systems, ensuring authorized access and enhancing security. 

Facts + key information: 

  • An access control system refers to a security system that regulates and controls access to buildings or specific areas within a facility. 
  • It typically utilizes technologies such as key cards, access codes, biometric scanners, or proximity sensors to authenticate and grant authorized individuals entry. 
  • Access control systems help manage and monitor the movement of people within a facility, ensuring only authorized individuals have access to restricted areas and sensitive resources. 
  • These systems provide an added layer of security, enable tracking of entry and exit times, and allow facility managers to restrict access, monitor activities, and generate access logs for enhanced safety, security, and operational efficiency. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Comprehensive access control plan: Develop a comprehensive access control plan that defines the desired level of security, access permissions, and protocols for granting or revoking access to different areas of the facility. This plan should align with the organization’s security policies and regulatory requirements. 
  • Integrated system: Implement an integrated access control system that seamlessly integrates with other building management systems, such as surveillance, intrusion detection, and visitor management systems. This integration allows for centralized control and monitoring of access activities. 
  • Multi-factor authentication: Implement multi-factor authentication methods, such as keycards, biometrics, or PIN codes, to enhance security and prevent unauthorized access. This ensures that individuals accessing the facility are verified through multiple means. 
  • Regular review and updates: Conduct regular reviews of access control policies and protocols to ensure they remain effective and aligned with changing security needs. Update access permissions as necessary to reflect changes in personnel or organizational requirements. 
  • Monitoring and reporting: Utilize access control system logs and reporting capabilities to monitor access events, detect anomalies, and generate audit trails. This enables proactive identification of security breaches, facilitates investigations, and helps enforce compliance with security protocols. 


Scenario 1: An access control system is implemented in a commercial building to ensure secure access for authorized personnel. The system utilizes electronic key cards or biometric authentication to grant access to specific areas within the building. Employees, tenants, and approved visitors are issued access credentials that are programmed into the system. This enables controlled access to sensitive areas such as server rooms, executive offices, and restricted areas, enhancing the overall security of the building. 

Scenario 2: In a hospital, an access control system with visitor management capabilities is implemented to regulate access and monitor visitor movement. Visitors are required to register at a central reception area, where they receive temporary access credentials, such as visitor badges or temporary access codes. These credentials provide limited access to specific areas based on the visitor’s purpose and authorized duration. The access control system keeps track of visitor entry and exit, allowing the facility management team to ensure visitor safety, manage overcrowding, and maintain privacy and security within the hospital premises. 

Scenario 3: An access control system is integrated with the building automation system in a commercial complex to optimize building operations and energy efficiency. The access control system uses occupancy sensors and access data to determine occupancy levels in different areas of the building. Based on this information, the building automation system adjusts HVAC settings, lighting controls, and other systems to optimize energy usage in real-time. This integration enhances energy efficiency, reduces operational costs, and improves occupant comfort by aligning building operations with actual occupancy patterns. 

Asset Management 

Definition: Asset management refers to the systematic approach of managing and maintaining physical assets within a facility. It involves tracking, optimizing, and maximizing the value and performance of assets, such as equipment, machinery, and infrastructure. 

Facts + key information: 

  • Asset management is the strategic and systematic management of physical assets within a facility or building portfolio. 
  • It involves activities such as asset tracking, maintenance planning, performance monitoring, lifecycle analysis, and financial optimization to ensure the effective utilization and maintenance of assets. 
  • Asset management aims to maximize the value, performance, and lifespan of assets while minimizing operational costs and risks. 
  • It includes tasks such as asset inventory, condition assessment, preventive maintenance scheduling, asset replacement planning, and data-driven decision-making to optimize asset performance, extend asset lifespan, and achieve better returns on investment in building operations and facility management. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Comprehensive asset inventory: Establish a comprehensive inventory of all assets within the facility, including equipment, systems, and infrastructure. This inventory should include detailed information such as asset type, location, specifications, maintenance history, and warranty details. 
  • Asset tracking and maintenance schedules: Implement an asset tracking system that allows for real-time monitoring of asset status, maintenance schedules, and performance data. This enables proactive maintenance planning, reduces downtime, and extends the lifespan of assets. 
  • Regular condition assessments: Conduct regular condition assessments of assets to identify any signs of deterioration, malfunctions, or potential issues. This helps in prioritizing maintenance activities, allocating resources effectively, and avoiding costly breakdowns. 
  • Lifecycle management: Adopt a lifecycle management approach to asset management, considering the entire lifecycle of assets from acquisition to disposal. This involves strategic planning, budgeting for replacements, and optimizing asset performance throughout their lifespan. 
  • Integration with CMMS: Integrate asset management with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to streamline workflows, automate maintenance schedules, and facilitate data-driven decision-making. This integration ensures that asset information and maintenance activities are synchronized for efficient management. 


Scenario 1: An asset management system is implemented in a manufacturing facility to effectively manage and maintain critical equipment. Each piece of equipment is tagged with a unique identifier, and its information, such as purchase date, warranty, maintenance history, and user manuals, is stored in the asset management system. This enables facility managers to track the location, condition, and maintenance requirements of each asset, schedule preventive maintenance, and ensure timely repairs, reducing downtime and improving equipment lifespan. 

Scenario 2: In a large office building, an asset management system is utilized to optimize space utilization. The system tracks the allocation and usage of office furniture, workstations, meeting rooms, and other resources. By monitoring occupancy and usage patterns, facility managers can identify underutilized spaces and reconfigure them to meet changing demands. The asset management system provides real-time visibility into space availability, enabling efficient allocation of resources and maximizing the utilization of the building’s assets. 

Scenario 3: In a hospital, an asset management system is employed to ensure accurate inventory control of medical supplies, equipment, and consumables. Each item is tagged with an RFID or barcode label, and its details, such as stock levels, expiry dates, and usage history, are recorded in the asset management system. As supplies are used or replenished, the system automatically updates the inventory data. This allows facility managers to monitor stock levels, track consumption patterns, and streamline procurement processes, ensuring adequate supplies are available when needed while minimizing waste and inventory holding costs. 


Definition: Compliance refers to the adherence and conformity to applicable laws, regulations, codes, and standards within facility operations. It involves ensuring that the facility meets all legal and regulatory requirements related to safety, environmental protection, accessibility, and other relevant areas. 

Facts + key information: 

  • Compliance refers to adhering to legal, regulatory, and industry-specific requirements applicable to the operation and management of buildings and facilities. 
  • It encompasses compliance with building codes, safety regulations, environmental standards, occupational health and safety laws, and other relevant regulations. 
  • Compliance efforts ensure that buildings and facilities meet the required standards, maintain a safe and healthy environment for occupants, and mitigate potential risks. 
  • Facility managers are responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance, conducting regular inspections, implementing necessary corrective actions, and keeping accurate records to demonstrate compliance with applicable regulations and standards. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Stay up to date with regulations: Regularly review and stay informed about relevant building codes, standards, and regulations applicable to your facility. This includes local, regional, and national regulations that pertain to safety, accessibility, environmental impact, and other areas. 
  • Conduct regular inspections: Implement a systematic approach to conducting inspections and audits to ensure compliance with regulations. This includes periodic checks of building systems, equipment, fire safety measures, emergency exits, and other critical areas. Maintain accurate records of inspections and address any identified non-compliance issues promptly. 
  • Develop a compliance management plan: Establish a comprehensive compliance management plan that outlines the processes and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance. This plan should include roles and responsibilities, regular training for staff, monitoring mechanisms, and corrective action plans for addressing non-compliance. 
  • Engage with regulatory authorities and industry experts: Establish positive relationships with regulatory authorities, local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), and industry experts to seek guidance, clarify requirements, and stay updated on any changes in regulations. Engaging in dialogue and attending relevant industry events can provide valuable insights and ensure a proactive approach to compliance. 
  • Implement compliance tracking systems: Utilize technology and software solutions to track and manage compliance requirements. This may include digital record-keeping systems, compliance tracking software, and automated reminders for renewal dates and compliance deadlines. This helps streamline compliance management and reduces the risk of overlooking important compliance obligations. 
  • Continuously improve compliance practices: Regularly review and evaluate your compliance processes to identify areas for improvement. Implement a culture of continuous improvement, where feedback and lessons learned are incorporated into your compliance management approach. This ensures that compliance practices remain effective and adapt to changing regulations and industry best practices. 


Scenario 1: A manufacturing facility must ensure compliance with environmental regulations and safety standards. Facility management establishes robust processes and protocols to track and maintain compliance. Regular inspections, documentation of safety measures, and adherence to regulatory guidelines are essential. The facility manager implements an integrated compliance management system to monitor and report compliance-related activities, ensuring the facility meets all legal requirements and mitigates potential risks. 

Scenario 2: A commercial office building undergoes renovations to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The facility manager works closely with accessibility consultants and architects to ensure compliance with local accessibility codes and standards. The building’s entrances, restrooms, elevators, and parking facilities are modified to provide accessible routes and features. Ongoing monitoring and periodic audits are conducted to ensure continued compliance and address any potential barriers. 

Scenario 3: A healthcare facility prioritizes health and safety compliance to maintain a safe environment for patients, staff, and visitors. The facility manager establishes comprehensive safety protocols, conducts regular training sessions, and implements stringent infection control measures. Compliance with health and safety regulations, such as proper waste disposal, emergency preparedness, and infection control protocols, is rigorously monitored and documented. Regular inspections and audits are conducted to identify and address any compliance gaps, ensuring a safe and secure facility. 

Emergency Preparedness 

Definition: Emergency preparedness refers to the planning and readiness measures taken to effectively respond to and handle emergencies or unexpected events within a facility. This includes developing emergency response plans, conducting drills, and ensuring the availability of necessary resources and communication systems. 

Facts + key information: 

  • Emergency preparedness is the proactive planning, organization, and readiness measures taken to effectively respond to and mitigate potential emergencies or disasters. 
  • It involves developing comprehensive emergency response plans, protocols, and procedures that address various types of emergencies, such as fires, natural disasters, power outages, or security threats. 
  • Emergency preparedness includes conducting risk assessments, establishing communication channels, training staff on emergency procedures, and conducting regular drills and exercises to ensure preparedness and effectiveness in emergency situations. 
  • Facility managers play a critical role in coordinating emergency preparedness efforts, collaborating with relevant stakeholders, maintaining emergency supplies and equipment, and continuously evaluating and improving emergency response capabilities to safeguard the well-being of occupants and minimize property damage. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Develop a comprehensive emergency response plan: Create an emergency response plan that outlines procedures for various types of emergencies, including fires, natural disasters, medical emergencies, and security incidents. The plan should include clear protocols, roles and responsibilities, evacuation routes, and communication strategies. 
  • Conduct regular emergency drills and training: Regularly schedule and conduct emergency drills to ensure that building occupants are familiar with emergency procedures and can respond effectively in a crisis. Provide training sessions on first aid, CPR, fire safety, and other relevant topics to equip staff with necessary skills. 
  • Maintain emergency communication systems: Implement reliable and redundant communication systems to disseminate emergency notifications and instructions to building occupants. This may include emergency alert systems, public address systems, mobile notifications, and digital signage. 
  • Establish emergency contacts and partnerships: Maintain an updated list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services, utility providers, and relevant stakeholders. Establish partnerships with local authorities, emergency response teams, and neighboring facilities to facilitate coordinated responses during emergencies. 
  • Regularly inspect and maintain emergency equipment: Conduct routine inspections of emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, emergency lighting, and alarms. Ensure that all equipment is in working order, and schedule regular maintenance and testing to verify their functionality. 
  • Continuously review and improve the emergency plan: Regularly review and update the emergency response plan based on lessons learned from drills, incidents, and changes in regulations. Seek feedback from stakeholders, conduct post-incident evaluations, and incorporate recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of the emergency preparedness program. 


Scenario 1: A large commercial building with multiple tenants conducts regular fire drills and maintains an emergency response plan. The facility manager ensures that fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers are regularly inspected and in proper working condition. In the event of a fire, the facility manager promptly notifies occupants, guides evacuation procedures, and coordinates with emergency services. Through continuous training and preparedness exercises, the building’s occupants and staff are well-prepared to respond to fire emergencies, minimizing risks and ensuring a safe evacuation. 

Scenario 2: A coastal resort facility faces the risk of severe weather events such as hurricanes. The facility manager develops a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan that includes monitoring weather forecasts, establishing communication channels with local authorities, and implementing evacuation protocols. The facility is equipped with storm shutters, backup power generators, and emergency supply kits. Regular drills and training sessions ensure that staff members are prepared to respond effectively during severe weather situations, safeguarding the well-being of guests and employees. 

Scenario 3: A healthcare facility prioritizes emergency preparedness to handle medical emergencies effectively. The facility manager ensures that emergency medical equipment, such as defibrillators and first aid kits, are readily available and regularly inspected. Staff members are trained in CPR, first aid, and emergency response protocols. The facility maintains strong communication channels with emergency medical services, enabling rapid response during critical situations. By regularly reviewing and updating emergency response plans, the facility manager ensures that the facility is prepared to handle various medical emergencies, saving lives and providing timely care. 

Energy Audit 

Definition: An energy audit is a systematic examination and analysis of energy usage within a facility. It aims to identify opportunities for energy conservation and efficiency improvements by assessing equipment, systems, and operational practices. The audit helps in developing strategies to reduce energy consumption and associated costs. 

Facts + key information: 

  • An energy audit is a systematic evaluation and analysis of energy consumption and efficiency within a building or facility. 
  • It involves a comprehensive assessment of energy use, including electricity, heating, cooling, lighting, and other energy-consuming systems and equipment. 
  • Energy audits aim to identify areas of energy waste, inefficiency, and potential energy-saving opportunities within a building or facility. 
  • The audit findings provide valuable insights and recommendations for implementing energy-efficient measures, optimizing energy consumption, reducing operational costs, and improving sustainability in building operations and facility management. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Conduct a comprehensive energy audit: Perform a thorough assessment of the building’s energy consumption patterns, including lighting, HVAC systems, insulation, appliances, and water usage. Use energy monitoring tools and data analysis to identify areas of inefficiency and potential energy-saving opportunities. 
  • Identify energy-saving measures: Based on the audit findings, prioritize and identify energy-saving measures that can be implemented. This may include upgrading to energy-efficient lighting systems, optimizing HVAC controls, improving insulation, installing smart meters, or implementing renewable energy solutions. 
  • Set energy efficiency goals: Establish clear energy efficiency goals and targets for the building. These goals can include reducing overall energy consumption, achieving specific energy performance ratings, or obtaining energy certifications such as ENERGY STAR or LEED. 
  • Implement energy management systems: Deploy energy management systems that enable real-time monitoring, analysis, and control of energy usage. These systems can provide insights into energy patterns, detect anomalies, and enable proactive energy management strategies. 
  • Engage building occupants: Educate and involve building occupants in energy-saving initiatives. Promote energy conservation awareness, provide energy-saving tips, and encourage occupants to adopt energy-efficient practices such as turning off lights when not in use, using natural daylight, and properly managing temperature settings. 
  • Monitor and track energy performance: Continuously monitor and track energy consumption and performance metrics to assess the effectiveness of energy-saving measures. Regularly analyze energy data, compare it against established benchmarks, and generate reports to identify trends, areas for improvement, and potential cost savings. 


Scenario 1: A facility manager conducts an energy audit of a commercial building to assess its energy consumption and identify areas for improvement. The audit includes a comprehensive analysis of the building’s energy systems, such as HVAC, lighting, and insulation. The facility manager utilizes energy monitoring devices and data analysis tools to identify energy-saving opportunities. Based on the audit findings, the facility manager implements energy-efficient measures such as upgrading lighting fixtures to LEDs, optimizing HVAC settings, and installing smart energy management systems, resulting in reduced energy consumption and cost savings. 

Scenario 2: A facility manager is committed to promoting sustainability in building operations. They conduct a detailed energy audit to assess the building’s energy usage, carbon footprint, and environmental impact. The audit evaluates the efficiency of energy systems, renewable energy potential, and opportunities for energy conservation. The facility manager explores the installation of solar panels, implements energy-efficient building materials, and introduces recycling programs. By conducting regular energy audits and implementing sustainable practices, the facility manager aims to achieve long-term environmental sustainability and position the building as an eco-friendly facility. 

Scenario 3: In a multi-tenant building, the facility manager conducts energy audits for individual tenant spaces to analyze their energy consumption patterns. By installing sub-metering systems and utilizing energy monitoring tools, the facility manager can accurately measure and analyze the energy usage of each tenant. The audit findings enable the facility manager to identify energy-intensive areas, provide energy-saving recommendations to tenants, and promote energy-efficient practices. Through tenant engagement programs and collaborative energy management initiatives, the facility manager aims to improve overall energy efficiency in the building and reduce energy costs for all occupants. 

Energy Management System (EMS) 

Definition: An Energy Management System is a computer-based system used to monitor, control, and optimize energy usage in buildings. It helps to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure optimal performance of building systems. 

Facts + key information: 

  • An energy management system (EMS) is a software-based platform or system that monitors, controls, and optimizes energy consumption within a building or facility. 
  • EMS integrates various energy-related data sources, such as energy meters, sensors, and building automation systems, to collect and analyze real-time energy usage information. 
  • It provides facility managers with actionable insights and tools to actively manage and control energy consumption, implement energy-saving strategies, and identify areas of inefficiency or waste. 
  • EMS allows for the scheduling and automation of energy-intensive systems and equipment, such as HVAC, lighting, and equipment, to align with occupancy patterns and optimize energy use, leading to reduced energy costs, improved energy efficiency, and enhanced sustainability in building operations and facility management. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Integrated data collection: Implement an energy management system that integrates with various building systems and meters to collect real-time data on energy consumption, HVAC performance, lighting usage, and other relevant parameters. 
  • Automated monitoring and control: Utilize an EMS to automate the monitoring and control of energy-consuming devices and systems. This includes scheduling and optimizing HVAC operations, adjusting lighting levels based on occupancy, and managing energy-intensive equipment. 
  • Data analysis and reporting: Leverage advanced analytics capabilities of an EMS to analyze energy data and generate actionable insights. Identify energy-saving opportunities, track energy usage patterns, and generate reports for facility managers to make informed decisions. 
  • Demand response capability: Incorporate demand response functionality into the EMS to participate in utility programs and optimize energy usage during peak demand periods. This can involve load shedding, load shifting, or utilizing onsite energy storage to reduce electricity demand and costs. 
  • Continuous improvement: Establish a process of continuous improvement by regularly reviewing energy performance, setting energy reduction goals, and tracking progress. Use the EMS to identify areas of improvement, implement energy-saving measures, and monitor the impact of these initiatives over time. 


Scenario 1: In a large commercial building, the facility management team implements an advanced Energy Management System (EMS) to optimize energy usage and reduce costs. The EMS monitors the occupancy levels in different areas of the building using motion sensors and adjusts the lighting and HVAC systems accordingly. When a particular zone becomes unoccupied, the EMS automatically switches off the lights and adjusts the temperature settings to conserve energy. This proactive approach results in significant energy savings and improves the building’s overall operational efficiency. 

Scenario 2: A facility management company is responsible for maintaining a group of office buildings. To enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint, they decide to install an Energy Management System (EMS) that integrates with renewable energy sources. The EMS monitors the solar panels installed on the rooftops and optimizes the usage of solar power based on real-time demand and weather conditions. It automatically switches to grid power during low solar generation periods, ensuring a continuous and sustainable energy supply to the buildings while minimizing reliance on fossil fuel-based energy. 

Scenario 3: A university campus is committed to achieving its sustainability goals and reducing energy consumption across its buildings. The facility management team implements an Energy Management System (EMS) that incorporates smart metering and submetering technology. With the EMS, the campus can monitor the energy consumption of individual buildings, departments, or even specific equipment. By analyzing the data provided by the EMS, they identify areas of high energy usage and implement targeted efficiency measures, such as upgrading outdated equipment or implementing energy-saving protocols. This data-driven approach helps the campus optimize energy usage, reduce costs, and foster a culture of sustainability among its students and staff. 

Fire Suppression System 

Definition: A fire suppression system is designed to detect and suppress fires in buildings. It typically includes devices such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers, helping to protect life and property by controlling and extinguishing fires. 

Facts + key information: 

A fire suppression system is a specialized system designed to detect and extinguish fires within a building or facility. 

It consists of various components, such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and suppression agents, that work together to prevent the spread of fire and minimize damage. 

Fire suppression systems are typically designed based on the specific hazards and requirements of a building or facility, considering factors such as occupancy type, fire load, and regulatory guidelines. 

The system can be automatic, triggered by heat or smoke detection, or manual, activated by individuals in case of an emergency. Its primary goal is to suppress or extinguish fires rapidly, protect occupants, and minimize property damage. Regular inspections, maintenance, and testing are essential to ensure the system’s reliability and effectiveness. 

Industry best practices:  

Regular inspections and testing: Conduct routine inspections and testing of fire suppression systems to ensure they are in proper working condition. This includes checking pressure gauges, testing alarm systems, and inspecting sprinkler heads for any obstructions or damage. 

Maintenance and repairs: Schedule regular maintenance and promptly address any repairs or maintenance issues identified during inspections. This may involve repairing or replacing faulty components, ensuring proper water flow, or addressing any system malfunctions. 

Compliance with codes and standards: Ensure that the fire suppression system meets all relevant codes and standards, including local fire safety regulations. Stay updated on any changes in regulations and make necessary modifications to the system to maintain compliance. 

Training and emergency preparedness: Provide training to facility staff on fire safety procedures, including the proper use of fire suppression systems. Conduct regular fire drills and emergency response exercises to ensure staff members are familiar with evacuation procedures and the operation of fire suppression equipment. 

Documentation and record-keeping: Maintain detailed records of inspections, testing, maintenance, repairs, and any system modifications. This documentation helps track the system’s performance, provides evidence of compliance, and aids in troubleshooting or investigations in the event of a fire incident. 


Scenario 1: In a high-rise residential building, the facility management team installs a state-of-the-art Fire Suppression System to enhance the safety of the occupants. The system consists of automatic sprinklers, smoke detectors, and fire alarms strategically placed throughout the building. In the event of a fire, the system activates, quickly detecting the presence of smoke or flames and releasing water or fire-retardant chemicals to suppress the fire. This rapid response and effective fire suppression capability help protect lives and minimize property damage, giving residents peace of mind. 

Scenario 2: A manufacturing facility deals with flammable materials as part of its production processes. To ensure the safety of its employees and assets, the facility management team installs a comprehensive Fire Suppression System. The system includes specialized fire suppression agents, such as foam or gas-based suppressants, along with heat and smoke detectors. If a fire is detected, the system automatically triggers the release of the appropriate suppressant to quickly extinguish the flames. Regular inspections and maintenance of the system are conducted to ensure its proper functioning and compliance with fire safety regulations. 


Definition: HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It refers to the systems used in buildings to provide heating, cooling, and ventilation, ensuring a comfortable and healthy indoor environment. 

Facts + key information: 

  • HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, and it refers to the systems and technologies used to control indoor temperature, air quality, and humidity in buildings. 
  • HVAC systems are responsible for providing thermal comfort and maintaining adequate air circulation within a building or facility. 
  • They typically consist of components such as furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners, ventilation fans, and ductwork that work together to regulate temperature, distribute conditioned air, and remove stale air. 
  • HVAC systems play a crucial role in maintaining a comfortable and healthy indoor environment, improving energy efficiency, and ensuring proper ventilation for occupants’ well-being. Regular maintenance and periodic inspections are necessary to ensure optimal performance and to identify any issues or repairs that may be required. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Regular maintenance: Implement a proactive maintenance program for HVAC systems, including routine inspections, filter replacements, and cleaning of coils and ducts. This helps ensure optimal system performance, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality. 
  • Energy management: Optimize HVAC systems for energy efficiency by implementing energy-saving measures such as programmable thermostats, occupancy sensors, and scheduling controls. Regularly monitor and analyze energy consumption to identify opportunities for improvement. 
  • Air quality management: Implement strategies to maintain good indoor air quality, such as proper ventilation, filtration systems, and regular cleaning and maintenance of ductwork. Regularly monitor air quality parameters and address any issues promptly. 
  • System performance monitoring: Utilize building automation systems or energy management systems to monitor and analyze HVAC system performance. This allows for early detection of abnormalities, malfunctions, or inefficiencies, enabling timely corrective actions. 
  • Staff training and education: Provide training to facility staff on HVAC system operations, maintenance, and troubleshooting. This empowers staff to identify and address minor issues and promotes efficient and effective system management. 
  • Collaboration with qualified professionals: Engage with qualified HVAC contractors or technicians to perform regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs. Establish a partnership with experienced professionals who can provide expert advice and support for HVAC system management. 


Scenario 1: A newly constructed office building is experiencing inconsistent temperature control and high energy costs. The facility management team conducts an assessment and determines that the existing HVAC system is outdated and inefficient. They decide to upgrade the HVAC system to a more modern and energy-efficient model. The new system incorporates smart controls, variable speed drives, and zoned temperature control to optimize comfort levels while reducing energy consumption. The facility management team closely monitors the system’s performance and adjusts settings as needed to maintain a comfortable and energy-efficient environment for the building occupants. 

Scenario 2: A hospital is expanding its facilities to accommodate an increase in patient capacity. The facility management team is responsible for ensuring that the HVAC system meets the specific requirements of the healthcare environment. They work closely with HVAC engineers to design and install a system that provides precise temperature and humidity control, along with efficient air filtration to maintain indoor air quality. The HVAC system is equipped with HEPA filters and UV germicidal lamps to minimize the risk of airborne contaminants and maintain a sterile environment in sensitive areas, such as operating rooms and isolation units. 

Scenario 3: A shopping mall experiences a sudden breakdown of its HVAC system during the summer season. With soaring temperatures and high humidity, the facility management team quickly identifies the issue and realizes that the system requires immediate repairs. However, due to the complexity and scale of the system, sourcing the necessary replacement parts and completing the repairs will take time. In the meantime, the team implements temporary cooling solutions, such as portable air conditioners and fans, to provide some relief for shoppers and maintain a comfortable environment until the HVAC system is fully functional again. The facility management team communicates the situation to tenants and visitors, ensuring transparency and managing expectations during the repair process. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

Definition: Key Performance Indicators are measurable metrics used to assess and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of facility operations. KPIs can include indicators such as energy consumption, maintenance costs, customer satisfaction, space utilization rates, and other relevant factors to monitor and improve operational efficiency. 

Facts + key information: 

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics used to measure the performance and success of an organization, department, or specific project. 
  • KPIs are chosen based on the specific goals and objectives of the entity being measured, and they provide a clear and measurable way to track progress and evaluate performance. 
  • KPIs can vary depending on the industry, but common examples include financial metrics (e.g., revenue, profit margin), customer satisfaction ratings, employee productivity, and operational efficiency. 
  • By monitoring and analyzing KPIs, organizations can identify areas for improvement, set targets, make data-driven decisions, and drive continuous improvement to achieve their strategic objectives. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Clearly define objectives: Identify the specific goals and outcomes you want to achieve with your facility management activities. This could include energy efficiency, cost reduction, customer satisfaction, or equipment reliability, among others. 
  • Select relevant KPIs: Choose key performance indicators that align with your defined objectives and provide meaningful insights into your facility’s performance. Examples of relevant KPIs could include energy consumption, maintenance costs, response time to service requests, occupant satisfaction ratings, or equipment uptime. 
  • Establish baseline measurements: Determine the current performance levels for each selected KPI to establish a baseline. This will serve as a reference point for measuring progress and identifying areas for improvement. 
  • Set targets and benchmarks: Set realistic and measurable targets for each KPI based on industry standards, organizational goals, and historical data. These targets can help track progress, motivate performance improvements, and provide a basis for comparison against industry benchmarks. 
  • Regular monitoring and reporting: Continuously monitor and track the selected KPIs to assess performance and identify trends or deviations. Use a combination of automated systems, data analysis tools, and regular reporting to provide timely and accurate information on KPI performance to relevant stakeholders. 
  • Continuous improvement: Use the insights gained from KPI monitoring to drive continuous improvement initiatives. Regularly review performance data, analyze trends, and implement corrective actions or process enhancements to optimize facility management practices and achieve better outcomes. 


Scenario 1: A property management company oversees a portfolio of office buildings and aims to improve operational efficiency and tenant satisfaction. The facility management team establishes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track and measure their performance. Some of the KPIs they set include average response time for maintenance requests, tenant satisfaction survey scores, energy consumption per square foot, and preventive maintenance completion rate. By regularly monitoring these KPIs and implementing targeted improvements, the facility management team can identify areas for enhancement, optimize resource allocation, and ensure the buildings meet the highest standards of performance and tenant comfort. 

Scenario 2: A university campus is committed to sustainability and wants to reduce its environmental impact. The facility management team establishes a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track their progress. The KPIs include metrics such as energy consumption, water usage, waste generation, and greenhouse gas emissions. By continuously monitoring and analyzing these KPIs, the team can identify areas of inefficiency, implement energy-saving initiatives, promote waste reduction programs, and track the campus’s overall sustainability performance over time. The KPIs serve as benchmarks to drive continuous improvement and align the facility management team’s efforts with the university’s sustainability goals. 

Scenario 3: A retail company operates a chain of stores across different locations. To ensure consistent performance and operational excellence, the facility management team establishes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each store. These KPIs include metrics such as store cleanliness scores, inventory accuracy, energy usage, and customer complaints. By setting clear performance targets and regularly reviewing the KPIs, the facility management team can identify top-performing stores, share best practices, and address any performance gaps in underperforming stores. The KPIs provide a framework for evaluating and improving store operations, customer experience, and overall business success. 

Preventive Maintenance 

Definition: Preventive maintenance refers to planned and regular maintenance activities performed on building systems and equipment to prevent breakdowns, optimize performance, and extend their lifespan. It involves routine inspections, cleaning, lubrication, and small repairs. 

Facts + key information: 

  • Preventive maintenance refers to planned and proactive maintenance activities performed on a regular basis to prevent equipment or facility failures and prolong their lifespan. 
  • It involves scheduled inspections, cleaning, adjustments, lubrication, and replacements of parts or components as necessary to ensure optimal performance and prevent potential breakdowns. 
  • Preventive maintenance aims to identify and address issues before they escalate into major problems, reducing the likelihood of unexpected downtime, costly repairs, and disruptions to facility operations. 
  • By implementing a preventive maintenance program, facility managers can increase the reliability of equipment, enhance energy efficiency, extend the lifespan of assets, and optimize the overall performance and productivity of the facility. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Develop a preventive maintenance plan: Create a comprehensive plan that outlines the preventive maintenance tasks to be performed for each building system and equipment. This plan should include a schedule, checklist, and guidelines for maintenance activities. 
  • Conduct regular inspections: Implement a schedule of regular inspections to identify any potential issues or areas that require maintenance. Inspections should cover all critical systems, such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and fire safety systems. 
  • Document maintenance activities: Maintain detailed records of all preventive maintenance activities, including dates, tasks performed, and any observations or findings. This documentation helps track maintenance history, identify recurring issues, and provide evidence of compliance with maintenance requirements. 
  • Implement a proactive maintenance approach: Instead of waiting for equipment failure or issues to arise, adopt a proactive approach to preventive maintenance. Regularly replace worn-out parts, clean and lubricate equipment, and address minor issues before they escalate into major problems. 
  • Utilize technology and data: Leverage technology tools and data analytics to optimize preventive maintenance efforts. Implement computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) or facility management software to schedule and track maintenance activities. Analyze maintenance data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. Use predictive maintenance techniques, such as condition monitoring and sensor-based analytics, to detect early signs of equipment failure and take preventive actions. 


Scenario 1: A manufacturing facility operates critical machinery that requires regular upkeep to ensure optimal performance and minimize downtime. The facility management team implements a preventive maintenance program for these machines. They develop a schedule that includes routine inspections, lubrication, calibration, and component replacements based on manufacturer recommendations and equipment usage. By proactively maintaining the machines, the facility management team can identify potential issues before they escalate into major breakdowns, reducing costly repairs and production disruptions. 

Scenario 2: A property management company oversees a portfolio of residential buildings. To ensure the long-term sustainability of these properties, the facility management team adopts a preventive maintenance approach. They conduct regular inspections of building systems, such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and fire safety, to identify any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction. The team follows a comprehensive maintenance checklist and performs necessary repairs and replacements to address minor issues before they escalate. This proactive approach to preventive maintenance helps extend the lifespan of building systems, improve energy efficiency, and enhance tenant satisfaction. 

Scenario 3: A hotel chain operates multiple properties and strives to provide a consistent and exceptional guest experience. The facility management team implements a preventive maintenance strategy to ensure that all guest rooms are in optimal condition. They establish a schedule for inspections, cleaning, and maintenance tasks, including checking plumbing fixtures, testing electrical outlets, replacing worn-out furniture or fixtures, and deep cleaning carpets and upholstery. By regularly maintaining the guest rooms, the facility management team can identify and address any issues that may affect guest comfort, avoiding potential complaints and negative reviews. This proactive approach to preventive maintenance contributes to maintaining high occupancy rates and guest satisfaction. 

Work Order 

Definition: A work order is a document or request that specifies the details and instructions for completing a specific task or maintenance activity within a facility. It includes information such as the nature of the work, location, priority level, and resources required. 

Facts + key information: 

  • A work order in facility management is a document or request that initiates and tracks maintenance, repair, or service tasks within a facility. 
  • It includes information such as the nature of the work to be performed, location, priority, resources required, and any specific instructions or timelines. 
  • Work orders are typically generated in response to maintenance requests, inspections, or preventive maintenance schedules. 
  • Work orders help streamline and organize facility maintenance activities, ensure timely completion of tasks, track progress, allocate resources effectively, and maintain a record of work performed for future reference or reporting purposes. 

Industry best practices:  

  • Standardized work order process: Implement a standardized work order process that includes clear guidelines for submitting, reviewing, prioritizing, and completing work orders. This ensures consistency and efficiency in handling maintenance and repair requests. 
  • Detailed work order information: Require thorough and accurate information in work order submissions, including a detailed description of the issue, location, urgency, and any necessary documentation or attachments. This helps maintenance staff understand the problem and plan accordingly. 
  • Prioritization and scheduling: Establish a system for prioritizing work orders based on urgency, safety considerations, impact on operations, and available resources. Implement a scheduling system to assign and track work orders, ensuring they are addressed in a timely manner. 
  • Communication and status updates: Maintain open lines of communication with requestors and stakeholders by providing regular updates on the status of work orders. This helps manage expectations and provides transparency throughout the process. 
  • Performance analysis and feedback: Regularly analyze work order data to identify trends, recurring issues, and opportunities for improvement. Collect feedback from requestors and maintenance staff to identify areas where the work order process can be streamlined and enhanced. 


Scenario 1: A facility management team receives a work order for a leaking pipe in a commercial building. The team promptly assesses the situation, identifies the source of the leak, and determines the necessary repairs. They create a detailed work order specifying the required materials, tools, and labor needed to fix the pipe. The work order is then assigned to a qualified technician who follows the instructions, completes the repair, and updates the work order with relevant notes and completion details. This systematic approach to work orders ensures efficient and effective resolution of maintenance issues, minimizing disruptions to building occupants. 

Scenario 2: A university campus receives a work order from a faculty member reporting a malfunctioning projector in a lecture hall. The facility management team responds by generating a work order to address the issue. They assign a technician to troubleshoot the projector, inspect the connections, and determine the required repairs or replacement parts. The technician follows the work order instructions, resolves the issue, and updates the work order with the actions taken and the status of the repair. This work order system helps streamline the maintenance process, prioritize requests, and ensure that all reported issues are properly addressed. 

Scenario 3: A property management company manages a residential building and receives a work order from a tenant reporting a broken air conditioning unit in their apartment. The facility management team generates a work order, assigns it to an HVAC technician, and schedules a visit to the tenant’s unit. The technician inspects the air conditioning unit, diagnoses the problem, and determines the necessary repairs or replacements. They complete the work order, documenting the actions taken, parts used, and any additional recommendations. This work order system allows the property management company to track maintenance requests, allocate resources efficiently, and ensure timely resolution of issues to maintain tenant satisfaction. 

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