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News Archives - 2016

UT Austin Co-authors Article on "Informatics" for APPA Publication

December 2016 - UT Austin's Markus Hogue co-authored an article on best practices for gathering data points from various systems, which was featured in the November/December issue of Facilities Manager, the magazine for the Association for Physical Plant Administrators (APPA). Hogue co-chairs APPA's Facilities Informatics Group, who developed a white paper and survey to help facilities managers "gather, understand, and apply data to decision making."

"Buildings on campus recycle wood from Dell Medical School construction site"

December 1, 2016 - Read this Daily Texan article about how the trees removed from the Dell Medical School (DMS) construction site were repurposed so their natural beauty can still be seen in the new DMS buildings.

"UT celebrates Texas Arbor Day, educates community about trees"

November 7, 2016 - Read this Daily Texan article about how our Landscape Services team brought Texas Arbor Day to life on our campus.

On November 4, 2016, the university community gathered to celebrate Texas Arbor Day at the Tower Garden. The university's arborists planted a Montezuma Cypress tree and three Redbud trees to complement the Tower memorial. Landscape Services also gave away free seedling trees from seed collected on campus. See photos of the event.

In Texas, the ideal season for planting trees is fall. For that reason, our state celebrates Arbor Day on the first Friday in November. This event supports the standards of the national Arbor Day Foundation, which has designated The University of Texas at Austin as a Tree Campus USA for eight consecutive years.

UT's Landscape Manager Receives Multiple PGMS Awards

November 2016 - According to a press release from the Professional Ground Management Society (PGMS), Landscape Services Manager John Burns, Certified Grounds Manager (CGM), was a two-time honoree at the Society's 2016 School of Grounds Management and Green Industry Expo held on October 21 in Louisville, Kentucky. The first award was for 10 years of service on the PGMS Board of Directors. The other award was the President's Award, given each year by the current PGMS president to recognize "outstanding service and contributions to the Society." Burns was recognized for his leadership and "many hours of work and dedication" in developing their annual summer conference in San Antonio and his "involvement with the National Association of Landscape Professionals' 'Renewal and Remembrance Project' at Arlington Cemetery."

UT Presents at Educational Sessions, Wins Award at CAPPA Conference

October 2016 - The Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators (CAPPA) held its annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 10, 2016. UT's Utilities, Energy & Facilities Management (UEFM) experts were on hand to present topics of interest to the conference attendees during the educational sessions, including UEFM's Associate Vice President Juan Ontiveros, who presented on the university's new energy portal and "Lessons Learned from Planning UT Medical Campus." Representing Facilities Services were several speakers and their relevant topics: Building Operations Manager Mark White on in-house retrocomissioning best practices, Custodial Services Workload Coordinator Andrew Espeseth on Custodial Workloading, Facilities Services Support Associate Director Debra Di Meo on the Facilities Service Center operations, Landscape Services Urban Forester Jim Carse on using technology in urban forestry planning, and Engineering & Technical Support Manager Randy Hooper on the Maintenance Improvement Initiative. Also during the Conference, Markus Hogue, Facilities Services' irrigation and water conservation coordinator, received the "Distinguished Member" award, presented by Ed Heptig, CAPPA's past president. See photos of our speakers and award presentation at the conference here.

Exterior Lighting Maintenance Improves Safety on Campus

October 4, 2016 -The Daily Texan reports how "Social media connects students, law enforcement" in an article about improving campus safety. The article shares how Facilities Services "initiated monthly lighting maintenance checks for exterior campus lighting in April," which includes "900 preventive maintenance work orders so far, plus 100 repair work orders that corrected about 450 lights." The story also points to the work the department has done around Waller Creek this summer to improve visibility and sustainability.

UT's Urban Forester Recognized by ISA

October 2016 - Jim Carse, head arborist at the university, was recognized for his contributions to the Texas chapter of the International Association of Arboriculture (ISA). Carse chaired the local committee for the ISA's international conference that was held in Fort Worth in August. For his outstanding efforts, he was given an artful award and a lifetime membership in the ISA.

"New tree inventory improves University's ecological resources"

September 28, 2016 - This Daily Texan article highlights how our Urban Forestry experts are hard at work tracking our trees, a valuable asset to our campus. To date, 3,335 trees have been catalogued, and the process is about 70% complete.

"UT Arborist Helps Campus Orchard Blossom"

September 12, 2016 - Read this Daily Texan article on our Urban Forestry expert, Jennifer Hrobar, who brings her knowledge and passion for trees to her work on campus.

Taking Green Spaces on Campus to a Higher Plane

September 1, 2016 – With an ever-growing community and denser urban campus, green spaces at The University of Texas at Austin are harder to come by. That’s when innovation calls for ingenuity: creating spaces to grow beneficial plant life on walls and roofs of facilities—going vertical or upward. Examples include a joint project by the university’s Wildflower Center and the School of Architecture in the form of a Green Wall. But keeping these new-found spaces green requires proper irrigation technology. Our resident irrigation expert from Landscape Services, Mark Hogue, implements the latest technology, such as soil sensors, to maintain these specially designed green spaces. The sensors not only help sustain the plants but also conserve water. Learn more about the Green Wall and this growing trend we help to maintain in an article from the Wildflower Center News site: “The Green Goes Up.”

UT Hosts Cleaning Industry’s Workloading Summit

The University of Texas at Austin's Custodial Services hosted the 2016 Workloading Summit on August 25-26, 2016, the third year that the Workloader Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) has met. The alliance serves as a non-profit resource with a mission to research, develop and standardize workload concepts and processes through collaborative benchmarking and innovative practices.

Workloading is a technique that helps managers and in-house cleaning professionals, as well as cleaning contractors, to more precisely determine the time, labor needs and related costs involved in cleaning a facility. As emphasized by the WBA’s Executive Committee, “Every company needs an understanding of the real cost of building ownership. The total cost of asset ownership (TCO), labor costing and labor utilization are essential to meet this organizational need. Through workloading and benchmarking, the WBA meets annually to present ideas and have an open discussion to define, develop and achieve these expectations.” Sally Moore, associate director of Custodial Services at UT, states, “Together this group is advancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our labor forces in ways unattained on an individual basis, while still placing respect for workers and worker safety as priorities.”

Presentation topics at this year’s summit included “Absent Staffing Plans,” which was presented by UT’s workload coordinator, Andrew Espeseth. Other topics featured were “How to Workload ‘Funky Spaces’,” “Workloading Software Options,” and “How to Workload in a Retail Environment.” WPA members at the summit included facilities managers from The University of Texas at Austin, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, as well as commercial facilities managers from ABM, Lowe’s, Caravan Facilities Management LLC, Cleaning Management Concepts, Aqua Chempacs and the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association.

The 2017 Workloader Benchmarking Alliance Summit will be held at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. Please check the WBA website for more information.

See photos from the summit.

Custodial Services Wins Multiple Cleaning Industry Awards

August 1, 2016 - At the Simon Institute's 15th Annual Cleaning Industry Awards Ceremony, Facilities Services' Custodial Services team was the recipient of several accolades on behalf of The University of Texas at Austin. Associate Director Sally Moore was selected for a Pinnacle Award for her lifetime achievement in the cleaning industry. The team was also presented with the Benchmarking Best Practices Award and the (OS1) Green Certified Program of Excellence Award for their three audits. Breaking ground as winners of the first-ever Best Cleaning Team Award was a team led by Building Attendant Leader Patricia Maurizi-Schiff. See photos of these remarkable awardees.

Transforming Waller Creek

August 2016 - The University of Texas at Austin is launching a project to transform the stretches of Waller Creek and Hemphill Branch that flow through or near campus. (See campus map.) The project is intended to improve sustainability of the creek area by removing invasive species and planting native and adaptive plants, an approach similar to that recently implemented by the university on Waller Creek in the new Health District. The project is also intended to enhance safety and visibility within the campus area of the creek. Read this article (PDF) for details. View this slideshow (PDF) for before and after photos of the transformation work in July and August 2016.

"Honored for Excellence: Facilities Services Earns National APPA Awards at APPA 2016"

July 12, 2016 - Read this article (PDF) about how two of our staff were recognized for their award-winning contributions to the higher education facilities management field at the APPA national conference.

New Name for Support Services Division

July 8, 2016 - Facilities Services Director Dean Hanson announced that the Support Services division will be renamed to Landscape & Integrated Building Services, effective July 15, 2015. In addition, one of the division's branches, Central Services, will be renamed to Building Logistics & Keys. The changes were made to more accurately align the work unit names with their respective functions. No staffing changes were made.

If you have any questions about the name changes, please consult the Facilities Service Center at 512-471-2020 or at facilities@austin.utexas.edu.

Facilities Services Hosts Town Hall Forums for Clients

June 27, 2016 - Our Facilities Services' leadership team hosted two town hall meetings (June 21 and again on June 27, 2016) to provide information to clients about improvements we are making and the changes you can expect, followed by a question-and-answer session. Topics included:

  • The impending Campus Maintenance Restructuring Study;
  • The standardization of and improvements in Work Order Response and Completion Times;
  • Specifics of the upcoming Maintenance Zone Restructuring; and
  • Benefits of the soon-to-be-lauched ServiceNow portal, the university-wide user interface that includes a replacement for requesting online service through WORQS.

For more information about the above topics, view the presentation slides (PDF) from the meetings or contact the Facilities Service Center at 512-471-2020 or at facilities@austin.utexas.edu.

"UT Goes High-Tech on Irrigation"

Summer 2016 - The City of Austin's water conservation newsletter, Austin Water, drew attention to our Landscape Services' approach on innovative irrigation methods, which inspired the city's rebate program for irrigation system improvements. Read the article to learn more.

Facilities Services' Landscape Crews Help Install UT's First Living Wall

June 2016 - Our Landscape Services' irrigation teams were there to guide student volunteers with the installation of the first "living wall" on The University of Texas at Austin's campus at Goldsmith Hall. The Living Wall is a research and design joint project between the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the School of Architecture. View the Wildflower Center's video and read the Daily Texan article.

"Herman: The rebirth of the Dalai Lama's University of Texas tree"

June 10, 2016 - Facilities Services staff gave new life to a dying tree that had been blessed when the Dalai Lama visited campus. Read about how they saved the tree in this Austin American-Statesman article.

Facilities Staff Presented with President's Awards at Ceremony

May 13, 2016 - Outstanding staff were presented an award for their extraordinary efforts at The President's Staff Awards 2016 ceremony. Among the honorees this year were Meagan Jones and Olga Kobasic from Facilities Services, and Armando Blanco from Project Management & Construction Services. These individuals represent the extraordinary efforts that make a difference in providing quality service to our campus every day! UT's President Fenves shook hands and posed with each of the award winners during the event. Staff members with 10-50 years of service were also honored. See photos from the event.

Before the Cap and Gown: Getting the UT Campus Ready for Commencement

May 2016 – Before the University’s graduates walk the stage to receive their well-deserved diplomas, the ceremony and reception sites must be set up. But what does it take to make that happen? Who and what are involved in literally setting the stage for this rather elaborate yet dignified and meaningful UT Austin event each year? Read our story and get a glimpse from behind the scenes to find out.

Read the full article (PDF), view our photos and learn more about Facilities Services or Project Management & Construction Services.

This article is part of our: Values at Work Series

Our Custodians Help to Raise Our Service Standards

April 2016 – Facilities Services’ custodians efficiently cover a lot of ground each day as they work diligently to keep our campus clean and healthy for everyone. While our award-winning cleaning program is part of what distinguishes us, the most important part is the people who carry out this important role. What makes these cleaning professionals extraordinary? How do they help us raise our standards of service? Read our article and find out.

Read the full article (PDF) and learn more about Custodial Services.

This article is part of our: Values at Work Series

Landscape Services Wins Award for UT, Holds Arbor Day Planting Event

April 2016 - The University of Texas at Austin was awarded a megabus.com Tree Campus USA award by the Arbor Day Foundation. This award supported a service-learning project at the campus orchard on Friday, April 29, 2016. The "Bees and Trees" event included the establishment of a pollinator garden and the planting of additional fruit trees. See photos of the celebration.

UT Austin Joins Forest Service Effort to Trap, Track Destructive Beetle

April 2016 - University of Texas at Austin Urban Forester Jim Carse and Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) Forester Clay Bales installed a trap on the university campus that TFS is using to track an insect poised to kill ash trees in Texas, the emerald ash borer. The trap was installed near the intersection of San Jacinto Blvd. and Duval Street.

The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle that was first detected in the U.S. near Detroit, MI, in 2002. Its larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. The EABs likely arrived in the U.S. on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in their native Asia. Since its discovery in Michigan, the EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America. It has also caused the USDA to enforce quarantines in 22 states and Quebec; and cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

In Texas, there are more than 324 million ash trees greater than one inch in diameter. These trees are at risk from the EAB. In the City of Austin alone, an estimated 1.4 million ash trees could potentially be affected by the beetle.

The TFS is setting out 440 EAB traps this year, including the one installed at UT. One other trap is being installed in Austin, on City of Austin property. Four additional traps are being placed on Travis County properties.

For more information, contact Jim Carse with Landscape Services.

"UT locksmith shares key to happiness"

April 19, 2016 - Read this front-page Daily Texan article about our Lock & Key Services supervisor, Lee Hart, who has been with Facilities Services for 30 years.

New Maintenance Initiative Improves Facilities Stewardship

March 2016 – The Facilities Operations & Maintenance team is developing a fundamentally new way to look at preventive maintenance for university facilities in a major effort called the Maintenance Improvement Initiative, or MI2. Paving the way isn’t easy, but that doesn’t deter this visionary team of technical experts. Learn what sets them apart and how they are revitalizing maintenance now and for the future in our informative article.

Read the full article (PDF).

This article is part of our: Values at Work Series

"That Time UT Austin Waged a War on Grackles"

March 31, 2016 - Read this KUT article where John Burns, Landscape Services manager, describes being part of the team in the 90's that grappled with the grackles (those big, black birds) on campus using shotguns filled with blanks to scare the birds away.

Facilities Services Hosts USC Facilities Team to Share Best Practices

March 24, 2016 - Read this article on how Facilities Services' division leaders provide an open door to facilities managers from other campuses to share their insights and help them develop solutions for improving their operations.

Daily Texan Gives Nod to Long-serving Fire Safety Technician

March 22, 2016 - Read this human interest story about John Abroms, a fire-life-safety technician with our Fire Safety Systems shop, who has encountered some very interesting people and situations on the job in his many years of service to the university. Visit our Fire Safety Systems pages to learn more about this team's unique role on campus.

CAPPA Features Story on Building Ops' Training Benches

March 2016 - Read the article on our innovative solution for developing efficient and cost-effective in-house building automation system expertise published in the spring newsletter of the Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators (CAPPA). Visit our Building Operations pages to learn more about this forward-thinking group of techs-perts.

Sold! UT Surplus Property Auctions Are Back on the Block!

March 2016 - Facilities Services' Surplus Property will host a public auction of university property and equipment on March 30, 2016, starting at 9:00 a.m. at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. Registration and viewing opens March 29 at 7:30 a.m. Get a sneak peek at the items here. For more information and directions, visit our Surplus Property web page.

Teamwork Makes Explore UT Possible

March 2016 - Teams from Facilities Services joined forces with teams from Project Management & Construction Services to provide event support for Explore UT 2016. Read how this collaboration reinforced the university’s educational mission and potential for future Longhorns.

Read the full article (PDF) and learn more about Facilities Services or Project Management & Construction Services.

This article is part of our: Values at Work Series

APPA Highlights Facilities Services' Maintenance Strategy

February 2016 - Read the article on our Maintenance Improvement Initiative published in APPA's Facilities Manager, a publication of the nation's leading association for educational facilities. Just as we are transforming our maintenance program, the association's magazine provides its readers with the latest on "research, solutions, creative strategies, and best practices to inform and transform their work." The University of Texas at Austin remains at the forefront of providing the best in facility asset management.

UT Austin Leads the Way in Maintenance Management

March 2016 - A recent article published in Software Advice shows how UT Austin is setting the standard when it comes to excellence in higher education maintenance management.

EWC Team Presents at Campus Sustainability Forum

February 2016 - A team from our Energy and Water Conservation (EWC) Program recently attended the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability (TRACS) during the annual summit held February 1-3, 2016 and hosted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley at South Padre Island. The event focused on "continued education for sustainability practices along with the opportunity to engage and overcome emerging issues that are arising in today's society," according to the TRACS site.

EWC student employees Jessica Lu and Laura Bowman presented "A Simple Guide to Joining the Dark Side" to TRACS members. They discussed the current Longhorn Lights Out program and how, with the help of the Green Fee funds, we are developing a "Lights Out! Program Toolkit" for other universities to use on their campuses to start their own programs. Grace Hsieh, EWC energy steward, presented "20 by 2020," which covered all the technical and behavior initiatives associated with our Energy and Water Conservation Program. The team came away from the event with renewed excitement for their program work and found the networking opportunities there to be very good.

As Stephanie Perrone, EWC's senior building energy and water conservation project manager, shares, "This is the fourth year for a TRACS summit and it has been a beneficial conference for people who are involved in sustainability efforts throughout Texas." Learn more about student engagement with EWC's efforts.

UT earns Tree Campus USA honors for 8th consecutive year!

February 4, 2016 - The Daily Texan interviews Landscape Services' Jennifer Hrobar about this achievement in this article.

Helping to Make Animals Safe

January 5, 2016 - Read this article about how Animal Make Safe works together with building managers and Facilities Services to find humane solutions for capturing wild animals in campus buildings and returning them to their natural habitats.

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