The idea of a school campus conjures many different images: Studious young people filling their minds with knowledge; lab-coat-wearing researchers making discoveries that will change the world; vibrant student life expressed in the arts and athletics.
When we look at a campus, we see an intricate system, with layers upon layers of vital infrastructure and facilities that must all work together to create a sustainable, active institution of learning.
We were grateful and proud to participate in this year’s Campus FM Technology Association Conference, held July 30-August 2 in Austin, Texas. The event, which has been held annually for two decades, brings together professionals from institutions of higher education all over the country, giving them a chance to learn and discuss the latest advancements in campus facility management.
Our Project Director for Subsurface Mapping, Mike Twohig, gave a presentation on the importance of building a digital utility atlas to improve facility management. As we have written previously, a digital campus utility atlas brings many benefits, including better project management, a safer environment for those involved in the projects, and a more formalized knowledge succession plan that ensures vital information isn’t lost with staff turnover.
As part of his presentation, Mike shared some of the good and bad of infrastructure and utility planning and management. Attendees saw how old, outdated physical maps can become liabilities when new work needs to be done, and how poor utility location and recordkeeping can be not only costly, but dangerous.
Just as with large urban projects, campus construction and improvements should begin with a thorough understanding of the above- and below-ground environments. School campuses often pack a lot of infrastructure into a small space, as they must be a place of work, living, and recreation all rolled into one. In such complex environments it may be a challenge to accurately map every utility, but it’s still extremely important to put the effort into getting it done.
The CFTA Conference offered a lot of opportunity to learn more about the campus facility management industry, with sessions and talks covering a wide range of topics surrounding the things facility managers need to do to keep their campus operations running smoothly.
Of course, since we were in Texas, there was also time for a little barbecue: