UND Facilities director earns coveted spot on international organization board

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University of North Dakota


Larry Zitzow, director of the University of North Dakota Facilities Management Department, was recently appointed to a two-year term on the board of directors of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators International (APPA), a group that includes many of the world’s best known and biggest universities, several smaller private colleges, and many institutions in between. On the board, Zitzow represents the central region of APPA’s six.

“The group represents professionals involved in running the buildings, grounds, and related facilities across campuses worldwide,” said Zitzow, who started at UND in 1973 as a draftsman doing planning drawings by hand with eraser, pencil, and ruler.

“Today, all that work is done here with computer aided design, or CAD,” said Zitzow, whose department reports to UND Vice President for Finance and Operations Alice Brekke.

APPA is the parent organization of the Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators (CAPPA), of which Zitzow was president in 2009-2010. He joined that group in 1980 when he was associate director of UND Plant Services, the previous name of Facilities Management, under longtime director Leroy Sondrol. UND hosted the CAPPA annual meeting in Grand Forks two years ago.

“These organizations connect physical plant administrators and senior managers across the world,” said Zitzow, who also chairs UND’s Sustainability Council. “We often deal with similar problems, and rather than reinvent the wheel, we compare notes with people who’ve already been there, done that and are willing to share both their challenges and their successes. I exchange ideas with folks from schools such as Harvard and Michigan Tech, and with my colleagues in the North Dakota University System.”

APPA and its subsidiary organizations now are recruiting new members among facilities leaders in K-12 schools and vocational-technical and junior colleges, Zitzow noted.

“We’re looking to share even more knowledge with a broader range of professionals,” Zitzow said. “For example, West Fargo High School, like many schools of its type, is bigger than many colleges. The facilities administrator there also deals with a broad range of challenges that we can learn from.”

The major issues challenging facilities across campuses here and abroad include security and sustainability.

“Protecting the campus the best way possible and using less energy and using it more effectively are really hot issues in facilities management, as I’m hearing it from administrators from around the world,” Zitzow said.

UND Facilities Management runs several divisions, including the campus laundry, the lock shop, and the steam plant, and custodial, grounds, and landscaping services. Facilities employs specialty trades distributed among several divisions, including building automation technicians, carpenters, electricians, electronics techs, painters, plumbers, systems (or air conditioning-heating and sheet metal) technicians, and roofers.

In total there are 240 buildings at UND (including hangars and other buildings at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences airport facilities) enclosing about 6.2 million square feet; the campus sits on about 550 acres. In recent years, Facilities Management has been in the process of upgrading or installing new energy-efficient technologies all across the campus, including indoor and outdoor lighting, water-saving devices, intelligent air-conditioning/heating systems, and smart energy metering, saving millions of dollars in energy expenses.

Facilities also supervises all of the University’s green building projects, including the new Gorecki Alumni Center, a 30,000-square-foot building just west of the Chester Fritz Auditorium; it will be LEED Platinum certified when it opens next year.