Common Facilities Management Terms

facilities management terms


Today’s building systems are getting more and more complex. When the systems alone are as advanced and complicated as they are now, understanding the different terms and abbreviations can be overwhelming. Below, we’ve explained some common facilities management terms you will hear when talking about the maintenance and upkeep of a building, or the engineering of your facility. Though we aren’t engineers or facilities managers, our project managers have backgrounds in both fields and work daily with professionals in each industry.


VAV Box- Variable Air Volume

VAV Boxes are a newer type of HVAC system that are commonly used in commercial buildings. They allow for more precise temperature control, because rather than supplying a constant airflow at a variable temperature (CAV system), they vary the airflow at a constant temperature. In addition to greater temperature control, VAV boxes are desirable because they reduce energy consumption and fan noise for the occupants.

BAS- Building Automation System

A building’s BAS is the system that automatically controls the HVAC, lighting, life safety and other building systems. The BAS would control VAV boxes. The BAS allows for streamlined and improved occupant comfort and a more efficient operation of a building’s systems. Ideally, the BAS system will improve energy consumption and operation costs. It may even improve the life cycle of utilities, when monitored correctly.

Building Envelope

The physical separators between the interior and the exterior of the building are considered the building envelope. This includes walls, floors, doors, windows, skylights, etc. The building envelope is an important functional design aspect; the envelope should respond to the local climate so that heat, light transfer, ventilation and insulation are accounted for.

IAQ- Indoor Air Quality

IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures. IAQ is a health and comfort concern for building occupants. It is important to understand what pollutants can exist indoors and to accurately monitor IAQ levels. IAQ issues can arise from inadequate temperature control, indoor air contaminants like chemicals, dusts, bacteria, gases, etc. and insufficient outdoor air intake. VAV Boxes, BAS and the building envelope all contribute to a healthy IAQ.


Related- 5 Common Real Estate Terms Explained

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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