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K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Five K-12 Facilities Management Trends You’ll See in 2024

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New technologies, a global pandemic, and staffing shortages are just a few of the obstacles that K-12 schools have faced in the past few years. In each case, facilities managers have been required to make real-time decisions and adjustments to keep their schools safe, clean, and productive. Staying in the know about trends and priorities in the facilities management industry is the only way for school leaders to ensure that their management systems are properly prepared to face whatever else might be on the horizon.

In this article, we’ll explore these five trends that everyone involved in K-12 facilities management (FM) should watch for in the upcoming year:

  • Social and environmental sustainability: Schools will prioritize sustainability initiatives like renewable energy, green cleaning, recycling, and indoor air quality improvements to reduce environmental impact and protect student health.
  • Technology and IoT integration: IoT sensors and AI will be increasingly integrated to analyze building data, optimize operations, and automate maintenance tasks for efficiency gains.
  • Safety and Security: Upgrading security technology, conducting equipment and system audits, and providing facilities management training will be prioritized in the coming year.
  • Predictive maintenance: More K-12 facilities management teams will utilize sensor data analyses to allow earlier identification and prevention of equipment failures.
  • Data Analytics: More school districts will use dedicated software platforms to collect and analyze maintenance, energy, and space utilization data to inform cost-saving facility management decisions.

Developments in these areas could guide your own choices as a facilities manager or school leader. Whether you outsource your facilities management or handle it in-house, it’s vital to understand what’s happening now and what’s coming next in the FM industry.

1. Greater Focus on Social/Environmental Sustainability

In the new year, the facilities management industry will be more focused on both immediate and lasting improvements to school environments. A well-structured school environment with good air quality and ample light can promote positivity, academic success, and the overall well-being of both students and teachers alike. On the flip side, rundown school buildings can reduce employee and student morale, make occupants sick, lead to excessive absences, and lower academic performance across a district’s student body.

At the same time, school facilities also significantly impact the environment due to their sprawling size and significant energy usage. According to one study, school HVAC systems produce the same amount of carbon emissions as approximately 5 million gas-fueled cars.

In an effort to create more productive spaces and minimize the environmental impact of K-12 schools, facilities leaders will implement a variety of measures in the next year, including:

  • The adoption of renewable energy sources that reduce energy consumption and costs
  • The use of environmentally friendly cleaning products
  • Reduction of waste through sustainability practices

Many of these goals are achievable because of new developments in technology. For example, schools can cut their emissions by installing appliances designed for energy efficiency. And if they have the funding available, they can also take advantage of smart building technology. For example, there are thermostats and lighting systems that can adjust to the environmental conditions of a room based on its occupancy level.

Power management software is another increasingly popular option that allows schools to optimize their energy management. Digital solutions like these monitor and control energy consumption and shut down devices during hours when a building is closed or not occupied. Similarly, schools will likely take steps away from fossil fuels as well. They’ll turn instead to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, to reduce their carbon footprint and cut energy costs.

2. Investments in Technology and IoT Integration

From physical projectors to Zoom meetings, modern classrooms run on technology. Schools need solid Wi-Fi and Internet infrastructure to make hybrid work and online classrooms accessible to teachers and students. Keep in mind that this obligation doesn’t end when students get on the bus to go home. K-12 school districts have to ensure that students have internet access from home to ensure academic equity and accessibility to technology

And this accessibility isn’t limited to school districts with big budgets either. While technology upgrades are expensive, you can expect to see older schools with outdated systems seeking ways to enhance their online accessibility. Internet of Things (IoT) devices have a major part to play when it comes to this.

These devices, which include smart boards and tablets, allow classrooms to function more efficiently and effectively every day. Although the use of IoT is already widespread, it will continue to expand in 2024. Experts project that the size of IoT technology in the education market will grow from $8.13 billion in 2022 to $35.70 billion by 2030.

Other important forms of technology will also experience growth. These include:

  • Online learning systems and apps where students can submit assignments and check their grades
  • School help desk software that enables students and faculty to submit support tickets when they encounter technology issues
  • Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) with asset tracking and performance monitoring capabilities

Even K-12 facilities teams that already have some of these solutions in place will be making changes. This is because many IT management systems are set up in disparate platforms that aren’t able to communicate with each other. This kind of isolation makes them more expensive to operate, creates unnecessary confusion for students and staff, and complicates training and onboarding processes for new team members.

In the next year, K-12 schools will increase their efficiency by consolidating these tools into a single facilities and asset management platform. Rather than asking users to switch between different systems to complete their tasks, they’ll have access to all the information they need through one central dashboard. Many K-12 facilities teams will also make use of embedded artificial intelligence and automation tools to streamline the process of responding to and fulfilling school work order requests.

3. Continued Prioritization of Safety and Security

One of the most important goals of any facilities manager is to keep a building’s occupants safe from all types of threats, both digital and physical. In 2024, it’s predicted that many K-12 facilities managers will double down on their efforts to find educational device security solutions that reduce risk levels without infringing on the personal privacy of students and school faculty.

For example, cybersecurity is top-of-mind for many school leaders because the education and workplace experience are so different today than they were pre-pandemic. Most students and teachers now rely on tablets and Chromebooks during class instead of pens, paper, and whiteboards. Some also attend classes on hybrid work schedules, where they’re only present in person on specific days of the week.

These changes mean that facilities managers have more to consider when it comes to securing their schools. Cyber threats such as ransomware are on the rise, and schools have to take extra steps to protect personal data. While facility managers may not be directly responsible for securing student devices, they should be trained to identify and deter hackers who may try to gain physical access to a student’s or teacher’s personal device.

These attacks pose a serious threat not only to an individual’s rights but also to a school’s financial well-being. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, cyber incidents can cost school districts anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in expenses. That’s a major loss for schools that are already working with limited budgets.

Digital devices aside, facilities managers will also continue to look for new ways to better protect the physical well-being of students and staff while they’re on school property. Since 2018, there have been 179 school shootings in the United States. While flaws in school designs are hardly to blame for these horrific events, it’s also true that school leaders can decrease the chances of injuries and deaths by implementing stronger security systems.

Over the next year, we will likely see larger investments in school safety technologies and tools, including:

  • Security cameras
  • Access control systems
  • Locked and reinforced doors
  • Gates
  • Metal detectors

Meanwhile, school leaders will also investigate new ways to keep building occupants safe. This could include crisis-alert technology and school safety technology that scans camera feeds to identify guns in school environments and workspaces.

4. A Conscious Shift Towards Predictive Maintenance

Maintenance is another major concern for schools, especially as they try to keep costs low. When an HVAC system suddenly goes down, it can throw everything into chaos. It pulls facility workers away from other tasks, makes the indoor environment uncomfortable for everyone in the building, and, in the worst cases, can lead to unscheduled school closures. In other words, the future of facilities management best practices lies in predictive maintenance.

Fortunately, many schools already use preventive maintenance to keep their equipment running. They create schedules that indicate when they’ll service school equipment in hopes of preventing a sudden failure. While this kind of regular maintenance is a positive step, predictive maintenance takes a more proactive approach to building management.

Rather than limiting equipment and system checks to a set date, predictive maintenance uses IoT technology and sensors to continually monitor the performance of a school’s physical assets. For example, if the energy levels of your school’s HVAC system were to fluctuate abnormally, your facilities management team could identify this issue before it became a more serious problem. One of the best ways to monitor the performance of your school’s physical assets is being using dedicated school FM software. Many FM platforms include dashboards that show the status of all of the connected equipment in your school building so you’re never caught off-guard.

Plus, the ability to monitor an asset’s condition, track its performance, and spot potential red flags translates to many practical benefits, such as:

  • Longer lifecycles for K-12 school facilities and equipment
  • Shorter and less frequent periods of downtime, which can be disruptive to school operations
  • Fewer emergency visits from service providers, which increases your maintenance costs

Predictive maintenance also makes life easier for FM teams. When they can plan ahead, they’ll spend less time on repairs and won’t get bogged down by last-minute work orders. All of these reasons underscore why predictive maintenance will become more widespread in K-12 facilities management services in 2024.

5. Further Collection and Use of Data Analytics

Leveraging school data analytics to determine the status of various school systems has always been integral to successful building operations – but don’t be surprised when it becomes an even more prominent part of facilities management next year. Schools that are tired of relying on spreadsheets and hardcopy reports may finally make the change to dedicated facilities management software instead. These solutions offer real-time information about every aspect of a school’s systems.

Unlike isolated spreadsheets and hard copy reports, high-quality facilities management solutions work together to instantly collect data and generate automated maintenance reports. Not to mention, you can set up these systems to automatically share this information with your school administrators, facilities managers, and other stakeholders who drive decision-making. This makes it easier to highlight key metrics and identify which of your school’s physical assets need optimization, maintenance, or repairs.

When you have documented evidence in hand, it also makes it easier to allocate school funding to your facilities management team. This is because you’ll have an easier time explaining the rationale behind your recommendations and plans when you have the data to back it up.

Some of the points school FM teams will emphasize in their analysis may include:

  • Average time spent on specific work orders
  • Patterns of issues with physical assets
  • Issues by location
  • The performance of individual team members

This actionable data shows facilities managers what’s working and what isn’t so that they can make immediate changes to the benefit of everyone in their district.

For example, your school might generate reports with performance data for your IT department. This report would combine information from both your asset tracking and school ticketing systems. These combined metrics make it easy to call out areas for improvement, such as slow response times to incoming IT support requests.

Similarly, your FM teams can use the information gathered in dedicated facilities management software to streamline their services and maximize operational efficiencies.

Finally, schools will also use data analytics to take a closer look at partnerships with third-party service providers. They’ll see information for each task, including whether it’s on schedule and within the budget, and have access to a record of every interaction with the provider. When issues pop up, they’ll have the information they need to rapidly track the source of the problem and develop a solution. Ultimately, this will make it easier to communicate and collaborate with outsourced service providers to make sure they fulfill your service requests properly.

Best Tools for K-12 Facilities Management

If you take a step back and look at all of these facilities management trends, one common theme becomes clear: K-12 schools are searching for better ways to serve staff, students, and their communities.

They’re simultaneously trying to make classrooms more engaging by incorporating technology in the classroom, improving facility management systems with automation, reducing their impact on the environment, and ensuring student safety.

In order to achieve all of these goals, your facilities teams will need access to real-time data and advanced tools to streamline their daily operations.

Incident IQ can help with all these aspects of school operations and more, including:

  • Facilities management
  • Asset management
  • Events management
  • School help desk ticketing

With school asset management software, help desk software, and facilities management software all available from a single provider, K-12 school leaders can streamline their processes and spend less time juggling incoming support requests. On top of that, they can automatically schedule and track maintenance and help desk activities so that students and staff get service and support as quickly as possible.

Want to see how Incident IQ is helping IT and facility teams at K-12 schools like yours? Schedule a demo to learn more.