Efficient and sustainable facility management in the City of Freiburg


City administration and municipal services are usually performed in buildings normally owned by the city. The construction and maintenance of these buildings constitutes a substantial cost factor in the budget, often resulting in parallel structures, uneconomicalness and non-transparency.


Like other towns, the City of Freiburg, a university city in the Southwest of Germany with a population of just under 219,000 inhabitants, has a considerable real estate portfolio. In order to establish centralised supervision and support of all City-owned buildings regarding constructional measures, energy management, cleaning, operation and letting, the City founded “Gebäudemanagement Freiburg” in 2006. It is responsible for a total of 470 buildings, above all schools, school sports halls, museums and fire stations. City-owned housing and real estate used predominantly for commercial purposes are excluded.


The aim of concentrating responsibilities for the construction and maintenance of municipal buildings in one authority is to reduce material and staff costs in facility management. Furthermore, the measure focuses on achieving more efficient energy use. All in all, a demonstrable contribution is to be made to impact- and action-oriented implementation of the Freiburg Sustainability Goals, which were adopted by the City Council in 2009, following a participatory process. These goals include the procurement of certified green power, reducing CO² emissions, giving preference to timber in building measures, using ecologically sound building material, and the procurement of products bearing an environmental or Fairtrade seal.


With the aid of an electronic facility management system (CAFM, Computer Aided Facility Management), the inventory and consumption data of all 470 buildings are captured centrally. Thus “Gebäudemanagement” establishes available area and space in the individual buildings on a continuous basis. A virtual “Tenant-Lessor Model” provides each City institution using a building with regular statements of rent levels and service charges. It is planned to transform these virtual rents into real rents.

In addition, the City conducts a long-term cost-benefit analysis in all retrofitting and new construction projects incorporating not only the costs of reconstruction or new construction but also the operating costs over the next 30 to 50 years. This database enables politicians and administrators to supply a better justification of higher investment costs to achieve good quality and high energy-related standards even if that makes the project more expensive in the short term.


Central facility management creates a sound database for sustainable planning of the retrofitting and extension of buildings as well as new buildings of Freiburg’s City Administration. It enables the establishment of specific space requirements, comparisons of construction costs, the grouping of procurements and the optimisation of energy management. Thus it has been possible to significantly reduce material and staff costs for facility management. The detailed statements of costs sharpen awareness of energy and resource consumption among building users and enable City facility management to initiate special retrofitting measures to reduce high energy consumption. Thus a reduction of CO² emission from municipal buildings related to gross floor area by more than 40% has been achieved compared to 1990.


The example of city facility management in Freiburg shows that targeted modifications in the organisational structure of an administration and in its process organisation can make a considerable contribution to more cost transparency, cost reduction and a more efficient use of energy in the City’s real estate portfolio.


Regions: Germany Freiburg


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