The strategic role of maintenance management in commercial real estate

October 4, 2023

In the bustling realm of commercial real estate, properties span from shiny skyscrapers to vast industrial zones. These establishments, often worth millions, rely heavily on efficient maintenance management. But why is it so crucial? 

Maintenance management extends beyond mere repair work. It's about sustaining property value, guaranteeing safety, and ensuring operations run smoothly. But this isn't an easy endeavor, especially for facilities managers navigating a myriad of challenges.

The basics of maintenance management

Maintenance management encompasses a structured approach to the upkeep, repair, and improvement of assets within a facility. It's a blend of technical tasks, resources, and strategic planning to maximize the life and efficiency of these assets.

Key benefits of efficient maintenance management for commercial real estate:

  • Asset longevity: A well-maintained property can withstand time, ensuring assets don't depreciate prematurely.
  • Tenant satisfaction: The last thing tenants want is a leaky roof or a faulty HVAC. Consistent maintenance boosts tenant retention and satisfaction rates.
  • Operational efficiency: Minimised downtimes mean operations run smoothly, and businesses within the property flourish.
  • Cost savings: By addressing issues early on, facilities managers can prevent costly major repairs down the line.

Maintenance management strategies

Think of maintenance as a game of chess. Without a strategic approach, you're reacting to the opponent's moves. But with strategy, you anticipate issues, allocate resources smartly, and stay two steps ahead.

Common maintenance strategies:

  • Reactive maintenance: This "wait till it breaks" approach might work for non-critical assets but can be costly in the long run.
  • Preventive maintenance: Scheduled checks, much like a car's regular servicing, can prolong asset life. However, it runs the risk of unnecessary maintenance.
  • Predictive maintenance: Using tech tools to monitor and predict when an asset might need attention can be incredibly efficient but requires investment in technology.
  • Data-driven maintenance: Emerging as a frontrunner in contemporary strategies, data-driven maintenance leverages the power of analytics and big data. It offers unparalleled insights into asset health, efficiency, and performance, enabling managers to make the most informed decisions. Compared to other strategies, the data-driven approach stands out for its precision, efficiency, and ability to continuously adapt based on real-time feedback.

Factors influencing strategy selection:

Various factors come into play, such as the age and state of the asset, its operational significance, budget constraints, available technology, and the skillset of the maintenance crew.

The only constant in the commercial real estate sector is change. Whether it's new technologies or shifting business goals, the need to adapt and refine maintenance strategies is continuous.

The role of facilities managers in maintenance management

Facilities managers are the unsung heroes of the commercial real estate world. Their tasks range from overseeing routine maintenance checks to crisis management during unexpected breakdowns. A key part of their role is bridging the gap between strategic planning and on-ground execution, ensuring every maintenance activity aligns with the broader business objectives.

The maintenance management lifecycle

This lifecycle is a continuous loop of planning, execution, monitoring, and refinement:

  • Planning & Scheduling: Think of this as the blueprint stage. Here, managers assess what needs attention, which resources to deploy, and when.
  • Execution: The hands-on phase where repairs, replacements, and upgrades happen. The efficiency of this phase often determines the longevity of assets.
  • Monitoring & Reporting: Here, technology plays a pivotal role. Sensors, trackers, and analytics software keep a close eye on asset performance, flagging anomalies and offering insights.
  • Review & Optimization: Post-analysis is crucial. Understanding what went well and what didn't helps in refining future strategies.

Technological trends in modern maintenance management

Modern maintenance isn't about wrenches and hammers alone. Technology has ushered in a new era of maintenance management:

  • Drones for inspections and surveillance: Gone are the days when manual inspections ruled the roost. Drones, equipped with high-resolution cameras, now survey vast commercial properties, identifying structural anomalies, roof damages, or areas requiring attention. This aerial vantage point offers unparalleled precision, ensuring no corner is overlooked.
  • Digital twin technology: A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical entity. For maintenance, this means having a dynamic, real-time digital representation of a building or system. Facilities managers can use this to simulate scenarios, test interventions, and predict wear and tear, all in a virtual space before implementing changes in the real world.
  • AR and VR: These aren't just for gamers. In maintenance, AR can overlay repair instructions on a broken asset, while VR can simulate a repair scenario for training.
  • AI-driven analytics: Beyond traditional analytics, tools like PEAK Platform harness AI's capabilities to delve deep into Building Management System (BMS) data. Such platforms don't just highlight equipment anomalies; they provide actionable recommendations to optimize asset performance. The standout benefit? AI analytics prioritize maintenance tasks, streamline repair timelines, and arm even the least tech-savvy FMs with insights akin to a seasoned BMS engineer The bottom line: significant financial savings. By empowering FMs with enriched insights, unnecessary interventions are averted, and asset longevity is boosted.

Financial Implications of effective maintenance management

The financial repercussions of maintenance are profound:

Cost savings: Proactive maintenance can lead to significant savings by avoiding major breakdowns and extensive repairs.

Improved asset value: Regularly maintained assets not only last longer but also retain their value in the market.

Risk mitigation: Systematic maintenance reduces the chances of unforeseen breakdowns, mitigating the financial risks tied to emergency repairs and operational downtime.

Key challenges in maintenance management and how to overcome them

Every process has its pain points, and maintenance management is no exception:

Budget constraints: Prioritize. Address critical assets first and consider long-term implications of maintenance delays.

Technological advancements: Adopt a phased approach. Not every new tech tool needs immediate adoption. Choose what aligns with your property's needs.

Personnel challenges: Continuous training and a clear growth path can ensure personnel are skilled and retained.

Emergencies: Have a crisis management plan. Regular drills, emergency contact lists, and backup resources can be lifesavers.

Environmental and sustainability considerations in maintenance management

With the dire warnings of climate change and the increased emphasis on corporate social responsibility, a sustainable approach to maintenance has become non-negotiable for forward-thinking building owners.
At the forefront of this sustainable shift is the concept of "Green Maintenance." Gone are the days when the primary concern was just the longevity and functionality of assets. Today, how we maintain is as important as what we maintain. Green Maintenance encapsulates a broad range of practices:

Sustainable Materials: Opting for recyclable or sustainably sourced materials for repairs and replacements minimizes environmental footprints. For example, choosing bamboo flooring over traditional hardwood can be a game-changer, given bamboo's rapid growth rate.

Waste reduction: Efficient waste management practices during maintenance activities, from segregating recyclables to responsible disposal of hazardous materials, ensure that the maintenance process doesn't harm the environment.

Energy-efficient solutions: Integrating energy-efficient systems and ensuring they are maintained regularly can yield significant savings in power consumption. This includes optimizing HVAC systems, switching to LED lighting, and employing smart building solutions that adjust energy usage based on occupancy and need.

While green maintenance makes an intrinsic environmental difference, its extrinsic value cannot be overlooked. Internationally recognized building certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) have set rigorous standards for sustainable commercial spaces. Maintenance plays a pivotal role in achieving and retaining these certifications:

LEED Considerations: Among other criteria, LEED assesses water efficiency, energy use, and indoor environmental quality – all areas directly influenced by maintenance activities. Regularly maintaining systems to ensure they function at peak efficiency can earn valuable LEED points.

NABERS Ratings: Particularly relevant in the Australian context, NABERS ratings evaluate the environmental performance of buildings based on operational data. Efficient maintenance routines that prioritize sustainability can significantly enhance a building's NABERS score.

These certifications aren't just badges of honor; they have tangible benefits. They significantly elevate the market value of properties and cater to the growing pool of tenants and investors who prioritize sustainability. Additionally, they often correlate with decreased operational costs over time.

Tips for enhancing your building’s maintenance management

In essence, impeccable maintenance management is more than just fixing what's broken. It's a holistic approach, intertwining expertise, technology, strategy, and foresight to create a seamless, efficient, and forward-thinking operation.
Here's an in-depth look at the crucial steps that can elevate your maintenance game:

  • Invest in continuous staff training: The bedrock of any efficient maintenance system is the competence of its team. Regular training sessions ensure your staff remains updated with the latest techniques, tools, and best practices. Workshops, seminars, and certifications can enhance their skill set, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
  • Embrace technological innovations: In this rapidly evolving era, new technologies emerge almost daily, and each could be a potential game-changer. Keeping a keen eye on these trends and being open to integrating suitable ones can drastically improve efficiency, accuracy, and responsiveness.
  • Cultivate a proactive maintenance culture: Traditional maintenance often takes a backseat, only coming into the spotlight when things go wrong. However, a proactive approach, one that anticipates and prevents issues before they escalate, can redefine efficiency. This not only reduces downtime and costs but also extends the lifespan of assets.
  • Feedback and review mechanisms: Encourage a culture where feedback, both from technicians and facility users, is valued. Regular review sessions, where these insights are discussed, can lead to iterative improvements in the maintenance process.
  • Strategize resource allocation: It's crucial to know where and when to deploy resources. A strategic outlook ensures that assets critical to business operations receive priority, and maintenance schedules are optimized for minimal disruption.


Maintenance management, often seen through the narrow lens of repairs and checks, is the lifeblood of commercial real estate's operational and financial success. It's not just about fixing things; it's about foresight, strategy, and continuous adaptation. As the landscape of commercial real estate evolves, so should the approach to maintenance, ensuring assets shine today and continue to do so tomorrow.

Don't miss out on the next big thing in property management!

Click here to watch a demo of the PEAK Platform and discover how it's revolutionizing commercial real estate maintenance. 

Kateryna Dmytriyeva
October 4, 2023