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SAIC works on challenges of maintaining corporate campus

Imagine overseeing a facility with more than 2,700 employees. Imagine facilitating the maintenance for over 670,000 square feet of office space, all in one location. Imagine dealing with other issues that constantly arise when managing a property of this size.

That's what Rene Terrazas faces every day. As the vice president and director of real estate and facilities for SAIC-San Diego, Terrazas keeps a close eye on the needs of the occupants and buildings of the company's Campus Point location in La Jolla.

SAIC, or Science Applications International Corp., is one of three San Diego County businesses currently on the list of Fortune 500 companies. Founded by J. Robert Beyster, now the CEO, the high-tech research and engineering company is the largest defense contractor in San Diego. It had $5.9 billion in revenues for its fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2001.

A large company like SAIC has a large employee roster; in fact, SAIC has about 1,700 employees in other San Diego County locations. Having a critical mass of employees concentrated into one area translates into the need for a large amount of space to house those workers.

But that has its advantages, Terrazas said. Campus Point must accommodate a variety of operating groups, but a central company location provides the company with the ability to concentrate certain services.

For example, SAIC employs a core group of employees who service and maintain the eight Campus Point buildings, including a fitness center for the employees. Having one such staff eliminates the need for duplication of services, Terrazas said.

"It's actually a more efficient way to operate," he said of the campus approach to facilities management. "Much more efficient."

Because the buildings aren't maxed out in terms of occupancy, there is some "float space." One operating group on campus might add 50 new employees, while another group loses the same number over a period of time. The campus can accommodate that.

"You won't be carrying that underutilized space, and it allows you to be as efficient as you can with occupancy," Terrazas said.

Technology, such as shared networks, can be shared among the campus buildings and divisions, too, he added.

But what about a major challenge facing almost every California business today: The high cost of utilities?

Utilities are always a hurdle for California companies, Terrazas acknowledged. Making sure that a company is as energy-efficient as possible can be a tough chore when the bills are rising and the perfect solution is still elusive. That challenge increases when your square footage increases.

But SAIC has found a few solutions to reduce its energy costs at Campus Point. It required some tinkering, but ultimately SAIC was able to find ways to control costs, Terrazas said.

The company put in motion sensors and altered the temperature ranges on its buildings' air-conditioners. Last summer, SAIC increased the temperature to 75 degrees, and later, it lowered the thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter.

It was a little warm in the summer months, and there were occasional reports of employee grumbling, but overall, the Campus Point employees understood the need to save some money and adjusted. Some got rid of space heaters, while others turned off unused lights.

"Most of our employees really stepped up," Terrazas said. "We couldn't have done it without them."

SAIC even qualified for the 20/20 Rebate Program, which the state started in May 2000 to encourage Californians to reduce their energy consumption. According to Terrazas, SAIC had already worked hard to reduce its consumption, but the company made even more changes to qualify for the program's corresponding 20 percent rebate on energy usage.

Other challenges facing the property managers of a large campus like Campus Point include maintaining a harmonious appearance of buildings and landscaping and dealing with traffic caused by the high employee volume.

"Because you're in a campus environment, you put more emphasis on looks than you would in a remote location," Terrazas said.

SAIC took care to ensure the Campus Point buildings would look like they belonged together, despite their varying sizes. The largest building, Building D, is 128,500 square feet, while the smallest building, Building G, is 44,000 square feet. To maintain a contiguous appearance, CEO Beyster even chose many of the plants and trees in the area himself.

Traffic in the Campus Point area couldn't be ignored, Terrazas said.

SAIC is located in a high-growth area and is next to Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), which just expanded, increasing the area's traffic flow. Realizing the impact on its functions, SAIC officials created some options for its employees.

According to Ron Zollars, media relations specialist for SAIC, the company established an incentive for Campus Point employees to participate in a ride-sharing program. The company also encourages employees to use the Coaster commuter train and shuttle service.

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