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Trends in recreation facility management

This is an excerpt from Recreation Facility Management 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access by Brent A. Beggs,Richard F. Mull,Mick Renneisen & Michael A. Mulvaney.

Today’s recreation facility manager is concerned with utilizing a facility to its capacity while maximizing revenue and minimizing expenses. The better a facility is utilized, the more it is perceived as beneficial to the mission of an organization. Professionals should understand current trends in recreation facility management in order to maximize a facility’s potential. Prominent trends include sustainability, demand for functional space, technological advances, legal code interpretation, risk management, liability protection, and cost reduction.

Sustainability refers to operating a facility while minimizing its long-term effect on the environment. For facility managers, sustainability is a process of implementing and maintaining economic, social, and environmental conditions that support both current and future facility users. From initial assessment activities to the management of the completed facility, sustainability efforts should occur within every phase of the facility development process.

Being green is another term referring to ways that a facility can be more efficient and lessen its negative influence on the environment. Because many leisure service organizations serve as stewards for the environment, recreation facilities are being designed and operated using technological advancements in materials and efficiency systems that minimize their effect on the environment.

Some facilities require just enough lighting to be able to play a game at night, whereas other facilities require lighting at television broadcasting standards for a night game to be shown on television. Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Some facilities require just enough lighting to be able to play a game at night, whereas other facilities require lighting at television broadcasting standards for a night game to be shown on television. brMarc Atkins/Getty Images

Examples of Sustainability Efforts in Facility Management

  • Disposal methods: Waste prevention, recycling programs, and composting efforts
  • Energy-efficient supplies: Implementation of a tracking or accounting system to monitor energy-efficient strategies; staff training on energy-efficient operation of equipment and supplies; utilization of equipment automatic control features
  • Green initiatives: Development of supportive, green-thinking workplace culture; identification of areas for improvement and action plan implementation; evaluation of expected versus actual energy usage
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification: Development of water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality of a facility to obtain LEED certification (silver, gold, or platinum)

Demand for Functional Space

Today, recreation professionals are placing more importance on analyzing and assigning space to maximize its use. Functionality of space is critical to administrative plans and expectations because few facilities can afford to have space that is not being used or is creating expenses without producing revenue. In an effort to maximize resources, recreation professionals are constantly analyzing the product and seeking to make all facility areas a functional part of the production process.

Check It Out

Energy Star

The Energy Star label is found on a variety of products, including heating and cooling, appliances, water heaters, lighting, building products, office equipment, and electronics. In the United States, Energy Star is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. Energy Star provides both consumers and organizations with energy efficiency information on products that help save them money and protect the environment. Partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), products are reviewed and, when appropriate, certified as an energy-efficient and cost-saving product. Since 1992, Energy Star and its partners have helped U.S. families and organizations save 5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, save more than US$450 billion in energy costs, and achieve 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions (Energy Star, 2021).

Advanced Technology

Technology has created a more complicated work environment for management where operating equipment, efficiency systems, registration applications, and maintenance functions all affect the production and delivery processes. Properly functioning and successful facilities require highly automated systems along with technological applications that are integrated with human capacities. They can include anything from computer-oriented efficiency systems to technologically complicated equipment that must remain operational to meet demands. Recreation professionals face constantly changing technology that emphasizes obtaining and assessing information to enhance the efficiency of human resources and any equipment that delivers a product.

Legal Code Interpretation

State and federal governments have written codes that protect the welfare of all users and employees. Interpreting and applying these regulations requires professional attention to protect a recreation agency and its users.

Recreation professionals have the responsibility of ensuring that all codes are observed in the design and operation of facilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act are just two examples of legislation that influences recreation professionals. In addition, risk management policies must be considered in facility design and operations. Negligence in this responsibility can have serious consequences, resulting in formal reprimands, lawsuits, termination of employment, or even the demise of an organization.

Risk Management

Recreation professionals have always been concerned with safety within their facilities. Efforts to assess and minimize risk is at the forefront of every recreation organization’s mission and operations. The COVID-19 pandemic is a recent example of the importance of risk management for the recreation professional. As federal, state, and local COVID-19 guidelines changed almost daily, recreation professionals were required to work closely with local health departments in their decision-making and planning efforts. Regular communication and collaboration across the local agencies became increasingly important, leading to the development of new safety protocols such as masking, social distancing, and the cleaning of high-traffic and heavy-use areas. These dynamic conditions required recreation professionals to balance newly established protocols while continuing to provide essential recreation services to their user groups.

Protection Against Liability

Currently in the United States, it is common for people to take legal action against someone or something that negatively affects their lives. Lawsuits can be expensive and time consuming, and some can eventually destroy an organization. Recreation administrators have responded to this challenge by attempting to prevent such actions. They emphasize the need to have a safe working environment for employees to protect their health, and the same consideration is extended to the people who use the recreation product. Recreation professionals must take every precaution to protect users of their product. They must establish risk management strategies, providing facilities and equipment that are free of both mental and physical dangers. Sound recreation facility management practices play a major role in protecting the administration from legal consequences while delivering a product.

More Excerpts From Recreation Facility Management 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access