Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, Calif., had been using a hodge-podge of systems, including spreadsheets and databases, to maintain facility condition information and generate reports to meet federal government funding requirements. The lab spans 203 acres and consists of 107 buildings, including the Advanced Light Source, a soccer-field-sized accelerator complex; the Center for Beam Physics; the National Center for Electron Microscopy; cancer research labs and many other science buildings.

The old facility record-keeping system enabled the lab, which is managed by the University of California and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to meet basic reporting requirements. It did not, however, provide cost modeling capabilities or integrate with IBM Maximo, the software Berkeley Lab uses to manage facility projects, including work order management.

The old system also was inadequate in helping the lab comply with recent sustainability mandates, such as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and LEED Gold certification documentation. So, Berkeley Lab searched for a way to evaluate the sustainability of its buildings and identify cost-effective measures that would help meet the requirements of the mandates.

In its efforts to adopt a newly integrated system, Berkeley Lab had multiple criteria, including the ability to:

  • Incorporate consistent facility condition assessment methodologies that addressed the way the lab functioned and the DOE requirement for reporting,
  • View lifecycle information,
  • Logically group maintenance work into projects, and plan and prioritize projects,
  • Automatically transfer project information to Berkeley's work order management system,
  • Automatically update condition information upon the completion of maintenance and renewal projects, including actual costs and indices, and
  • Integrate sustainability assessments and capture of green data.

Another important objective of Berkeley Lab's integrated facilities management initiative was the ability to develop accurate and defensible replacement plant values, which form the basis for the calculation of how much the organization needs to allocate to facility maintenance activities.

Berkeley Lab ultimately selected software from Boston-based VFA that integrated with MAXIMO. "We wanted condition assessment systems for strategic planning, as well as the ability to take that information right into our work order system," said Ken Fletcher, head of the Berkeley Lab Operations Department. "We were trying to find one software product to do all this that was comprehensive and integrated."

The integration of VFA software, MAXIMO and Green Building Assessments has met the key objectives of Berkeley's integrated facilities management initiative, including:

  • Creation of a central repository for facility and infrastructure condition data,
  • Ability to organize and prioritize deficiency maintenance needs using standard criteria,
  • Ability to generate deferred maintenance projects with consistent budget estimates,
  • Support compliance with federal sustainability and energy mandates,
  • Improved accuracy in forecasting future capital renewal and maintenance needs,
  • Long-term capital renewal modeling capability, showing need versus available funding and the resulting Facility Condition Index,
  • Support compliance with DOE real property asset management and facilities information management system user guidelines for reporting asset information, and
  • Achievement of Mission Readiness as mandated by the DOE.

By developing detailed cost models using a consistent methodology, Berkeley Lab increased the accuracy of its replacement plant values, which were previously estimated based on insurance policy values. The new system has facilitated the development of Berkeley's five-year sustainment plan, and lifecycle renewal forecasting for its 10-year site plan. Additionally, the Lab achieved Mission Readiness, which is important for its future growth.

"State and local governments that need to optimize their facilities capital planning and asset management programs should look to maintain a comprehensive understanding of the entire facility portfolio, determine what improvements are required, prioritize those improvements to align with the overall goals and business objectives, and finally, ensure dollars are spent as planned," said Scott Cormier, VFA's director of product management and marketing.

Cormier told, however, that finding the right tool can be a daunting task. "As you can imagine, the amount of data can quickly become overwhelming. State and local governments need a powerful analytical and financial modeling tool that automates and simplifies the process of managing all this information, rather than relying on the thick binders gathering dust on the shelf."