Douglas K. Christensen

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Doug Christensen was known throughout the industry as one of the foremost pioneers in the study, implementation, and management of facility assets and total cost of ownership (TCO) modeling. 


He valued every individual.  Throughout his career, his priority was always on people.  He believed that, “Facilities Management is People Management and we bring the buildings along for laughs.”  That people-first focus was exemplified throughout his life and everyone who knew him felt that personal attention and concern that made him such a gravitational individual. 


The moto of the Physical Plant of BYU is “What-e’er thou art, act well thy part.”


Throughout his career, he played his part with dedication and humility.  He is an industry giant that will greatly be missed

BYU and the CNA Center

Everyone that knew Doug, whether or not they were part of the BYU community, knew how much he loved BYU.  He started working on campus in custodial while pursuing his bachelor’s degree.  After earning his bachelor’s degree, he went to work for BYU in Auxiliary Services as the Business Manager.  He also served as the Director of the Physical Plant, the Director of the Capital Needs Analysis Center, and as the Administrative Solutions Advocate. Including his years working on campus while pursuing his undergraduate degree, he retired from BYU in 2011 after more than 40 years of service.  


Doug’s great accomplishment while at BYU was the vision, implementation, and success of the Capital Needs Analysis Center.  In 1980, he was asked to take on a temporary assignment for BYU. The charge came directly from the board of directors to complete an assessment of the campus needs for the next 10 years. While engaged in that effort, he led the development of a revolutionary method for planning long-term needs on an ongoing basis without the need for costly periodic condition assessments. This concept of renewal planning was truly visionary; no other campus was doing long-range analysis in this manner nor to this extent.  He completed his master’s degree in 1984 with his thesis on The Decision-making Criterion for the Replacement and Renewal of Capital Assets.  In 1989, the university had seen great value in what was coming out of the program and formally established the Capital Needs Analysis Center with Doug as the Director.   


The initial goals of CNA were to study campus assets and inform designers and engineers on what to specify in their construction documents.  While it certainly did that, throughout the years it evolved into much more.  He continued to challenge concepts and refine the processes.  They were able to extend useful life of BYU’s infrastructure through a variety of strategies as well as assess which asset types were the most cost efficient.  The data they gathered over the decades helped them to make wise investment decisions throughout all BYU campuses as well as throughout church physical facilities including chapels, temples, and other educational facilities resulting in substantial savings for the church. 


The 31 years at BYU spent in the study, implementation, and management of facility assets and total cost of ownership modeling contributed to a world-wide paradigm shift in the facilities management industry. 

APPA career

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Doug was actively involved with an association of higher educational facilities professionals called APPA.  While a member of APPA he served as the… 

  • President of the Rocky Mountain region, 
  • President of the international organization of APPA
  • The Dean of the Leadership Academy
  • An active member of the Professional Development Committee
  • As a member the Board of Directors for decades in multiple capacities

Other accomplishments while an active member of APPA include:

  • He authored or co-authored over 20 published articles for Facilities Manager magazine
  • He was a significant contributor to their development of the Strategic Assessment Model
  • He was one of the principle researchers for the APPA publication Buildings… The Gifts that Keep on Taking
  • He wrote sections for the APPA Body of Knowledge
  • He was one of the key creators of the APPA Center for Facilities Research (CFaR)
  • He was a faculty member of the Institute for Facilities Management.  

He was also recognized by APPA with numerous awards:

  • In 1987, he was the first recipient of the Rex Dillow award for outstanding article titled Integrating Capital Studies within Physical Plant Operations
  • In 1988, while Director of the Physical Plant, BYU was among the first recipients of the Award for Excellence in campus operations
  • In 1992, he received the Meritorious Service Award
  • In 1997, he received the President’s Award for outstanding achievement in facilities management and contributions to the association
  • In 2004, while Director of the CNA Center, BYU was among the first recipients of the Effective and Innovative Practices award for Capital Needs Analysis
  • In 2004, he was among the first to receive the APPA Fellow designation representing the highest individual achievement
  • In 2014, he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Leadership and Ethics award

At the 2017 APPA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, President Chuck Scott and Executive Vice President E. Lander Medlin announced that the Distinguished Leadership and Ethics Award would be renamed:


The Douglas K. Christensen Distinguished Leadership and Ethics Award


With APPA, he was able to share his ideas and research findings with the world.  He always felt that knowledge should be shared.  While he occasionally accepted a modest consulting fee or expense reimbursement, his time was mostly donated and he taught these principles openly in an effort to grow the industry.  


He served APPA, the staff, and the members with great dedication and humility.  He loved the association and all that it was working to accomplish.  His influence was felt by all and will be for years to come.  Many have even referred to him as “Mr. APPA.” 

Visit APPA.org

ANSI Standard on Total Cost of Ownership

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In 2016, Doug was asked to be a member of the steering committee of APPA’s effort to develop an American National Standard for Total Cost of Ownership Modeling. While APPA had been engaged in code advocacy for years before, this was their first standard development effort. Doug worked alongside his two other steering committee colleagues, Dana “Deke” Smith and Ana Thiemer, to establish the foundation and set the stage for the development of this standard. During its development, Doug passed away.

On January 11, 2018, ANSI approved and released the world’s first standard on Total Cost of Ownership, APPA 1000-1. Doug was listed as a member of the steering committee in memoriam. In their press release of the new standard, Morningstar.com wrote:


"As a practice, TCO was first developed and pioneered by Doug Christensen, a former president of APPA and founding co-chair of the APPA TCO Work Group, who first utilized TCO concepts while serving as the facilities director for Brigham Young University." 

APPA 1000