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A History of IFMA

Shaping the future of the built environment


In the early 1970s, a move toward using systems furniture (commonly referred to as cubicles) and the introduction of computer terminals into the workplace helped set the evolutionary course of facility management (FM). As facility management grew, those tasked with overseeing the new workplace were in need of guidance.


At that time, there was no organization that focused on providing information to manage the office environment. The first step toward the formation of a more specialized organization occurred in December 1978 when Herman Miller Research Corp. hosted a conference, Facility Influence on Productivity, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


This conference united the three founders of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA): George Graves of Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., Charles Hitch of Manufacturer’s Bank in Detroit and David Armstrong of Michigan State University. They all gathered at this event to voice the need for an organization comprised of facility professionals from private industry.


Since its founding in October of 1980, IFMA has grown exponentially. With more than 24,000 members in 100 countries with 136 regional chapters and 16 industry-specific councils, the association has advanced the global facility management profession by providing exceptional services, products, resources and opportunities. IFMA members manage more than 78 billion square feet of property and purchase annually more than 526 billion US dollars in products and services. In addition to IFMA’s original Service Center of Excellence in Houston, Texas, IFMA centers in Europe, China and India bring the association’s educational, informational and networking resources directly to members in those regions.


Through educational programs available online and in person, three credential programs, the Knowledge Library, a Career Center, the FM Research and Benchmarking Institute, industry-leading publications such as FMJ Magazine, and ample opportunities for all involved in the facility management profession to learn and network with others, IFMA is the ultimate resource for facility management professionals, as well as the leader in promoting excellence in the management of the  built environment.



Looking ahead, IFMA sees its greatest influence in training and certification, which is why so much emphasis is placed on IFMA’s educational and credentialing programs; IFMA continues to create FM leaders through its industry-leading credentialing process. In collaboration with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), IFMA offers FM educational resources for every career stage. The IFMA-RICS suite of credentials and professional qualifications provides opportunities for entry into and advancement in facility management.


IFMA sees its greatest opportunity in the global market through its partnerships, striving to better service and support FMs around the world. IFMA is constantly monitoring public policy objectives outside of the United States and expanding global channels for its products and services.


Sharing knowledge with other industries, other associations and other nations fuels growth.  In addition to staying focused on excellence and expanding its reach, IFMA has kept up with the people, processes, places and technologies that are changing the FM world. IFMA hosts a number of international events, including Facility Fusion and World Workplace—the world’s premier gathering of the global facility management community.



Introduced this year, IFMA’s Facility Management Training and Development Framework addresses the challenge of insufficient holistic guidelines for training, particularly in the technical fields. The framework features training and professional development options from a syndicate of associations, working together for the first time to provide seamless support of the entire built environment landscape. AFE will provide training, education and certifications for facility engineers; ASHRAE will offer its expertise in the category of HVAC and building energy controls; and ISSA will offer its training products for cleaning operation. Using the framework, team leads and hiring executives will be able to confidently train existing staff or hire new staff with industry-validated skills to fill defined roles.


IFMA continues advancing the FM profession by achieving a greater presence with policy makers in Washington, D.C., and among federal facility managers. Through partnerships with EuroFM, Facility Management Nederland, ASHRAE, U.S. Green Building Council, the Society of American Military Engineers and other prestigious organizations, we’re bridging continents, countries and cultures to promote FM globally, and establish professional standards and best practices guidelines.


Today, IFMA’s reach has extended toward grooming the FMs of the future through the IFMA Foundation. As a charitable organization (US IRS recognized 501(c)3) separate from IFMA, the Foundation is dedicated to supporting higher FM education and making FM a career of choice. More than half of today’s FM practitioners are expected to retire in the next five to 15 years. The Foundation works to fill the FM talent gap with a skillful and knowledgeable workforce that will inspire and shape the future of the built environment.


Submitted by Bobby Vasquez, Editor-in-Chief, IFMA