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Collaboration is at the heart of Facilities Management activities

In April 2023, Concordia announced a bold new model to help fight climate change — and one for which Facilities Management will play a central role. 

“PLAN/NET ZERO is our plan to reach carbon neutrality at the university by 2040,” explains Marie-Claude Lavoie, associate vice-president of Facilities Management. “We want to integrate living labs into facilities in order to study the effects of decarbonization activities, and to analyze and generate research and ideas and their results.”

The pilot project will position the university as a leader in decarbonization and be the first Quebec university to commit to being net zero by 2040 on both campuses, in collaboration with the Government of Quebec. The first phase of this transformation is a deep retrofit of the Guy-De Maisonneuve Building. Working with industry collaborators, Facilities Management will conduct an extensive, holistic overhaul of the building’s systems to reduce energy consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions.​ 

Lavoie emphasizes that PLAN/NET ZERO aims to align Concordia’s research expertise and requirements with activities in the Services and Sustainability sector. “It’s the start of our collaborative effort to decarbonize,” she says.

Reflecting on roles and responsibilities 

For Lavoie, collaboration is at the heart of the Facilities Management team of more than 200 people. That’s why the PMO (Project Management Office) team organized several workshops based on the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) matrix last year, to help clarify roles and responsibilities among the units’ branches and their interacting portfolios. All Facilities Management units participated in these workshops.

“We worked on projects, maintenance, strategic planning, defining standards, signage and more. We cover a very broad field of expertise which makes it more difficult to determine the person or team best suited to ensure our objectives are met,” Lavoie explains. The workshops were an effective way to lead to better understanding. “We’re making sure that each team understands the main goal or task they have to deliver, and which level of implication and collaboration they have to provide other teams.”

The workshops generated many recommendations and will continue to guide Facilities Management’s work going forward.

Performance indicator and tools

Another major goal for Facilities Management is ensuring clear expectations and deliverables among clients and other stakeholders. In that vein, the unit implemented a new project charter in summer 2022.

“It’s the contract between stakeholders,” Lavoie notes. “It can be long to deliver a project and it can be difficult to remember the initial agreement between those involved. We want to validate that everyone around the table will agree with the concept that we propose and that it answers all the needs that they have.” 

Surveying main clients at the end of a project is another way the unit worked to measure stakeholder satisfaction and build upon feedback.

“We want to validate satisfaction and create opportunities to discuss customer service,” says Lavoie. She adds that the survey is currently used only within Facilities Management’s projects team but hopes to implement it elsewhere in the future.

Campus Development Plan

Since August 2020, Facilities Management has been working on a four-stage Campus Development Plan — an urban planning document and tool that will define the long-term campus development to guide the institution’s physical growth over the next 15 years, in collaboration with the City of Montreal. The master plan is for both campuses, which reflects its long-term development goals and ensures that it can effectively respond to the growing and evolving academic and research requirements.

In 2022-23, the project team worked to finalize the third stage of the report on the Campus Development Plan, which includes looking at how to establish guiding principles, development plans and design guidelines.

A commitment to preventive maintenance 

Facilities Management is constantly working behind the scenes to extend the life of a building — to replace all the major critical equipment before it reaches the end of its life cycle. At least 15,000 preventive maintenance work orders were completed in the 2022-23 year.

Lavoie shares that her team is committed to preventive maintenance and always striving for a balance between maintenance and investment, both to address potential problems before they arise as well as to minimize closures and other disruptions to the university’s day-to-day operations.

“It’s important to maintain the quality of the buildings’ space for our community members.”

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