Facilities Engineering Institute assessment team completes BUILDER project


By Danica Laub

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — After nearly three years of collecting inventory data and condition assessments at Army National Guard facilities across Pennsylvania, members of the Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute’s Facilities Condition Assessment (FCA) team have finalized all pre-assessments and entered data into the BUILDER Sustainment Management System. This database is used by the U.S. Department of Defense to help maintenance staff, facility managers and administration decide when, where and how to best maintain building infrastructure.

Since November 2018, PSFEI FCA engineers and specialists — under the guidance of Erik Sohn, team leader for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs project — have covered approximately 6.5 million square feet throughout nearly 900 buildings across the commonwealth operated by the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. The total amount of square footage covered by the PSFEI FCA team in Pennsylvania is second only to that of the square footage covered in California Army National Guard facilities.

With countless hours spent on-site at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s readiness centers, armories, field maintenance shops and the Fort Indiantown Gap training site, the team reviewed building drawings and inventoried items such as the toilet and lavatory fixtures and mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment. According to Sohn, entering this information into the indexing database will help more easily distribute funding to facilities for maintenance, repair and replacement work.

As part of the BUILDER project, the FCA team developed a condition rating based on visual assessments. While the team did not conduct functionality testing, such as turning appliances on or off to confirm if they work, team members supplemented visual assessments with discussions with onsite Pennsylvania Army National Guard representatives and maintenance staff when possible.

“Our team can spend less time in the field measuring and more time assessing the condition,” said Sohn. “We’ve discussed with the local staff any issues they are having with the enclosure or MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) equipment and will use this information to further refine our condition assessments.”

Moving forward, Sohn and his team will use the inventoried data and current conditions of MEP equipment information to help the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs import the information into a computerized maintenance management system. Through this CMMS, PSFEI will maintain the data, using the information to create work orders for repairs and maintenance of buildings and equipment.

As an independent, third-party entity, PSFEI applies an all-encompassing facilities management, operations and engineering approach to its projects, resulting in unbiased advice and assessments for its clients, including the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

“We have staff with years of experience in nearly every aspect of facilities to provide engineering and operations advice,” Sohn said. “Although we are independent contractors, we are also considered a part of the team based on our long-standing relationships with our clients. We are essentially staff for our clients, but do not benefit from any purchases or recommendations made for our clients. We provide honest advice that is only intended to improve our clients’ facilities.”

With the completion of the BUILDER project, Sohn anticipates more streamlined inventory data gathering, better baselines for each condition and continued updating of the database through their CMMS to be more proactive with maintenance, repairs and replacements.

The Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute provides education programs, energy services, engineering services and facility condition assessments to Pennsylvania state agencies, the federal government and nonprofit organizations. The institute aims to advance its customers’ facilities engineering objectives through applied research, education and innovation.


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PSFEI Facility Condition Assessments