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IFMA Research Report Shows Energy Consumption Declining While Utility Costs Continue to Rise

Led by a dramatic increase in utility costs, the overall cost of running a facility is 10 percent higher than it was just four years ago, according to results from a recent International Facility Management Association research report. The study, Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs, shows that utility costswhich include electricity, gasoline, fuel oil, steam water and sewagehave jumped 19 percent compared to similar data from 2006.

While the increase in utility costs may come as no surprise to some, it is happening at a time when energy consumption is down. When compared to IFMA's 2006 benchmarking figures, average electricity consumptionmeasured in kBTUs per square foothas dropped from 93 to 81, while gas consumption has remained constant at 35 kBTUs per square foot. This decrease in energy usage could be attributed to companies implementing energy conservation practices, lighting improvements and equipment upgrades at their facilities.

"In recent years, many organizations have invested in their electrical and mechanical systems to make them more energy efficient," said IFMA Associate Director of Research Shari Epstein. "Performing simple measures such as installing occupancy sensors, adjusting heating and air conditioning controls and performing preventive maintenance checks to keep equipment running efficiently can make a measurable impact in reducing energy consumption."

Based on a survey of 1,032 facility professionals from across North America, the new report covers a variety of costs, including lease, maintenance, housekeeping, security, environmental, recycling, waste disposal and space planning. The costs are on an annual basis and are displayed as dollars per square foot. Many of the costs are further broken down by industry, facility type and geographic region.

This year's report reveals that expenses associated with environmental initiatives are also starting to increase. For example, the cost of recycling has doubled in the past four years. While facility managers today are spending an average of 4 cents per square foot on recycling, they were spending 2 cents per square foot in 2004, according to a previous IFMA benchmarking study.

"In years past, organizations could generate a little income from recycling paper, cans and cardboard materials," Epstein says. "With the current emphasis on sustainability, more organizations are stepping up their recycling efforts even though it comes at an increased operational cost."

IFMA annually conducts a benchmarking survey of its members in an effort to collect data that allows for easy comparisons of built environment costs and practices. These reports allow facility professionals to gauge their performance against similar facilitieswhether in the same industry or a different one. This year's report includes data from more than 1,000 facilities and is IFMA's largest benchmarking study to date, with many survey respondents supplying information from multiple facilities.

To learn more about the Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs survey results and methodology, or to order a copy of the report, visit www.ifma.org/tools/research/benchmarks_v.cfm. 

IFMA is the world's largest and most widely recognized international association for professional facility managers, supporting more than 19,000 members in 60 countries. The association's members, represented in 125 chapters and 15 councils worldwide, manage more than 37 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than US$100 billion in products and services. Formed in 1980, IFMA certifies facility managers, conducts research, provides educational programs, recognizes facility management certificate programs and produces World Workplace, the world's largest facility management conference and exposition. For more information, visit www.ifma.org.

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