RCM Exchange

Facility Assessment

During the RCM facility assessment, you will document existing equipment, conditions, and resource use patterns, and gather data to develop strategies for improving resource efficiency.

You will summarize information from the assessment in a facility assessment report, complete with calculations of cost, savings, and payback for different strategies. This  report is used to help make preliminary decisions about resource efficiency investments. Additional analysis will likely be needed when capital funds are used to implement a project.

Custodians, facility operators, and maintenance staff are your best sources for information about how the facility operates. They know better than anyone how to meet occupant needs and maintain equipment and structures, but they may also be apprehensive about how resource conservation may affect their daily work. Cultivate your relationships with them carefully and patiently, and ask for their input when developing the RCM assessment.

Pre-Assessment Activities

Collect and review information

Begin by reviewing all resource accounting data. Note any issues you want to discuss with the facility operator or investigate during the assessment. Note the number of utility meters (water and energy) assigned to each facility. Locate these meters during your visit. The following tools may help:

  • RCM Facility Assessment Form - Use this form to prepare for and guide your site visit. Complete the facility and occupancy descriptions before your visit using resource billing information and facility architectural plans. This form also contains a list of conservation opportunities; make sure you are familiar with them before conducting the walk-through. The descriptions are generic, so you may need to modify them to more closely match your situation.
  • Pre-site visit interview - Use this questionnaire to make your interview with the facility operator as productive as possible as you fill any information gaps on the RCM Facility Assessment Form.  

Review any previous energy studies or condition surveys, which may include resource conservation analyses that have not been incorporated into action plans. To locate these studies, check with the facilities director, maintenance manager, your state energy office, and the local utility.

Provide resource conservation training and information to appropriate staff (such as food service and grounds staff). This information will help staff provide useful input during the site assessment and will prompt them to think about resource use at their facilities.

Keep in mind that RCM activities are added duties for facility operators and staff. Be sure to let them know that their input is valuable and their efforts are appreciated.

Obtain a copy of an uncluttered floor plan

A fire escape plan on 8.5 x 11-inch or 11 x 17-inch paper works well. You may have to draw a simple floor plan from the architectural plans. Use this to document:

  • Age of each section of the facility
  • Building identification numbers and room numbers
  • Square footage
  • Utility meter locations
  • Heating fuel locations
  • HVAC and other equipment locations
  • Location and direction from which photos are taken

Interview the facility operator

Set up an interview (30 to 60 minutes) with facility operators and maintenance staff. Be sure to include people who:

  • Can demonstrate use of the HVAC control system
  • Can demonstrate use of the energy management control system
  • Know about HVAC equipment maintenance
  • Have access to mechanical spaces
  • Know the facility occupancy patterns

Bring an annual summary of the resource accounting data showing monthly profiles of energy consumption, electric demand, water use, and garbage service. Discuss any anomalies in the data. Also have energy use index (EUI) figures in British thermal units per square foot per year for comparison with other facilities.

The Building Operator Questionnaire suggests questions that will help you complete sections of the assessment form prior to the walk-through.

Review the floor plan and make any necessary corrections. Keep a clean set of floor plans so you can transfer your field notes to them after the assessment.

Schedule the assessment

Ask the facility operator to include facility staff who have access to all mechanical spaces and are knowledgeable about operations and occupancy schedules.

Conducting the Facility Assessment

How long will the assessment take?

It depends on the level of detail you want and the size and complexity of the facility. For facilities that are 30,000 to 200,000 square feet, expect to spend three to six hours. Some energy-saving opportunities are more complex and take more time to quantify. For example, a lighting upgrade recommendation may require that you count all the fixtures in the facility. This is time consuming, but necessary to determine if the project is worth pursuing.

Come equipped to perform the site assessment. Know how to use the tools in your RCM Auditor’s Tool Kit before the assessment.

Be thorough

Take photos to document mechanical equipment, lighting, interior spaces, windows, roofs, walls, and doors. Indicate on the floor plans the location and direction from which photos are taken. Download digital images immediately after the audit so the information is fresh in your mind and you can document what the photos show.

Talk to building occupants about comfort, lighting levels, occupancy patterns, indoor air quality, and hours of operation. This may lead to other opportunities for energy and cost savings.

Identify RCM opportunities

What you learn during your facility assessment and through resource accounting will help you identify efficiency opportunities. As you consider the possibilities, involve those who are impacted to ensure that any changes will be accepted.

Prepare a report and action plan

See RCM Facility Assessment Report & Action Plan for details.