Houston's General Services Department Trusts TD With Facilities

Houston’s General Services Department (GSD) serves more than 300 facilities, representing 7.7 million square feet of occupied space. Its services include land acquisition, building design and construction, energy efficiency, as well as property maintenance and management and security management. GSD’s core functions ensure all facilities that it maintains are clean, well-maintained and secure.

GSD’s Energy/Sustainability Section implements green and sustainable energy management solutions to reduce operating costs and improve the satisfaction of the city’s residents, employees and vendors who visit and work at these properties every day.

A Coastal City’s Challenges

World FM Day, on May 10, celebrates the dedication of the behind-the-scenes champions who build and keep our facility spaces healthy, safe and productive. Houston GSD takes this AdobeStock_532589014_Editorial_Use_Onlyyear’s theme, “Making a Real Difference,” to the next level. The department takes a proactive approach to the maintenance of older buildings, prolonging the life of existing equipment while strategically planning for efficiency upgrades and new construction for the city’s future needs.

Projects are seasonally driven, with chiller and cooling tower annual inspections performed in late spring to ensure buildings are ready for the summer heat.

One challenge that Houston residents might need to be aware of is how much strategic planning goes into emergency and hurricane season preparedness.

“Houston is a coastal city; there are three seasons in Houston: cool, warm and hot,” says Houston GSD Assistant Director Eric Alexander. “Understanding the climate changes and season is critical to developing a proactive strategy to ensure building equipment functions properly and failures are avoided.”

Any projects related to hurricane preparedness are a priority for May through September, he says.  

How TDIndustries Supports Houston GSD

TDIndustries’ Facilities team performs proactive maintenance and operating procedures for 54 buildings and 1.5 million square feet, including the Houston Emergency Center, HHS Holcombe Laboratory, Houston Police Department Headquarters, Alief Multi-Service Center, Herbert W. Gee Municipal Courthouse, city libraries and more. That includes three central utility plants, chillers, boilers and all associated HVAC systems.

!Best HEC Interior 03 5x3 300 dpi (2)Key facilities operations goals for the GSD Property Management Division include quality infrastructure maintenance, prioritizing capital improvement investments relevant to deferred maintenance planning, and being proactive versus reactive as a maintenance strategy, Alexander says.

“TDIndustries (TD) brings a wealth of knowledge to the facility maintenance industry through its broad facility maintenance approach in working with both the public and private sectors,” he says. “They can couple municipality and private industry operations in a strategic way that meets budget and goals related to preserving the life-cycle of the equipment in our facilities.”

The partnership has expanded since the relationship began in 2015, adding buildings and expanding responsibilities through a cooperative agreement with Omnia Partners. In 2021, the city and TD developed a separate, full-service Houston Public Works contract.

Trusting Relationships

Region Director of Facilities John McKenzie leads the TD team and has worked with Alexander for more than eight years.

“We’re here as a partnership,” McKenzie says. “We want to make sure the GSD budget is spent wisely on what they need to save on utility costs, keep their customers and buildings safe, comfortable and operating smoothly. By doing that, we’ve built trust through being honest, ethical and transparent on the value we can provide.”

McKenzie notes that the TD team, including the field technicians and supervisors, customer service manager and admin team, “are the first line of defense. They make those strong relationships happen every day.”

Positive Results

“TD’s attention to detail is invaluable,” Alexander says. “They are very responsive and have a great understanding of best practices in the facility maintenance industry.”

Houston GSD and TD collaborate proactively on an emergency response playbook to identify resources and opportunities for temporary equipment for contingency planning purposes.

“TD has proven to be very resourceful in addressing equipment that is prone to fail,” Alexander says. “They assist us in getting ahead of the deficiencies so a plan is in place for the continuity of building operations.”

Alexander shares guidance for other municipalities who may have similar facilities challenges to Houston GSD, such as maintaining aging infrastructure and building strategies for emergencies, extreme weather and future growth:

“Ask the right questions about your facility needs, and incorporate companies like TDIndustries to see if there are other solutions within this industry that they can offer to improve facility conditions.”