Benchmarking Your Preventive Maintenance Program

Maintenance costs are usually the second largest single expense component for facilities… right behind Utility Costs. For some FM’s they are the largest single expense. Facility Managers can have significant impacts on their operating costs by understanding how they are performing relative to others and the impact that a good preventive maintenance program can have on their total maintenance costs.

In previous articles we have reviewed how to determine your total maintenance cost and normalize it by the Factored Gross Square Foot (FGSF) of your facility. Using FGSF provides a method to compare different types of space in a normalized way. For example, if your building includes a data center floor, then it wouldn’t be appropriate to compare directly compare another building with only office space without “Factoring In” the space used by the data center.

In this article we will review how Preventive Maintenance programs impact your overall maintenance costs.

Step 1 – Maintenance Benchmarking Definitions with Preventative Maintenance Program…

Maintenance Costs:

Building Maintenance is the preventive and remedial upkeep of building components i.e., maintenance work done as a normal part of building maintenance operations.

Standard Costs – Internal and Contracted – Include all costs whether there is a specific “Craft” sub-category listed or not. For most organizations, the sum of line D1 will equal the building maintenance budget.

Exceptional Costs – Internal and Contracted – includes major expenditures that are funded by the maintenance budget. For example, normal roof maintenance and repair would be included in “Standard Costs.” However, replacement of a substantial portion of the roof would be included in “Exceptional Costs.”

Preventive Building Maintenance – Preventive, predictive, or planned maintenance is a program in which wear, tear, and change is anticipated, and continuous corrective action is taken to ensure peak efficiency and minimize deterioration.

Step 2 – How Do I Compare With Others…

Once this information is collected it is easy to normalize the data on a unit cost basis to determine the impact of preventive maintenance activities.


  • Each point on the chart represents a site’s annual maintenance cost on a factored gross square foot (FGSF) basis vs. their Preventive Maintenance activity.
  • A trend line is shown that shows the lowest maintenance cost per factored gross square ft. is for the sites with 65 and 80 of preventive maintenance activities


At each of our best practices meetings this past year, the participants have provided presentations and techniques that improve maintenance performance and reduce costs. Predictive and reliability centered maintenance methods with specific analytical tools were all cited as effective approaches. The tools (infrared, ultrasound, vibration analysis) and training needed to implement have declined in costs and they are easier to use.

An excellent example is the use of thermal imaging to identify electrical issues before they become major problems. In the photo below, one of the four pumps on a cooling tower is seriously overheating. This problem has been identified before failure and will be fixed before it causes down time or an electrical fire.

Step 3 – Using This Information…

You’ve completed your maintenance data collection and performed the calculations. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself

  • Where do you stand on these charts? What is the preventive maintenance activity of your organization relative to total maintenance costs
  • Could you explain to management why your preventive maintenance activity is at the right level or needs to be changed?
  • What are some of the reasons that explain your positions on the charts?

Metrics from the Facility Managers Round Table (FMRT)

In 2004 there were 94 unique sites in the FMRT with a median size of about 1,400,000 million square feet. See the chart below to see how the group looked by industry type.


  • Space Utilization 430 Gross Square Feet per Occupant
  • Cost Metrics
  • Utilities $2.17 / GSF
  • Custodial $1.33 / Cleanable SF
  • Maintenance $1.69 / GSF
  • Parking and Paving $1529 / Acre
  • Groundskeeping $3405 / Acre
  • Security $0.73 / GSF
  • Mail Services $0.22 / GSF
  • Environmental Health and Safety $0.35 / GSF
  • Fixed Costs (Includes: Building, Leasehold Improvements, Furniture/Equipment) $ 3.71 / GSF


  • Box Move Costs $317 / Person Moved


  • Satisfaction With Overall Facilities Services 3.80 on a 1 to 5 scale
  • Articles written starting January 2009 are based on data from FM BENCHMARKING, the online benchmarking tool for facilities managers and CREs. Data tracked by FM BENCHMARKING includes cost data (utilities, maintenance, custodial, security), sustainability data, and best practices. FM BENCHMARKING is available on a subscription basis for $275 or less per year (with discounts for multiple buildings); included with each subscription is the ability to compare one’s building to any others in the database, through a comprehensive set of filters. For more information, go to

    Articles written prior to January 2009 were written by Facility Issues. FM BENCHMARKING is a collaboration between Facility Issues and FMLink.