Facility Management

Because large buildings consume enormous amounts of energy and other natural resources, there's growing interest in increasing efficiency in commercial facilities. By improving and streamlining day-to-day building operations, facility managers can create and maintain better work environments while netting big financial dividends for their company.

Context
Commercial and residential buildings consume large amounts of materials and resources through routine maintenance. Recent statistics show that buildings use one-third of the energy consumed in the United States, and two-thirds of all electricity.

Additionally, buildings generate waste during operation; can have poor indoor air quality, affecting worker health; and produce roughly a third of carbon dioxide emissions and other emissions that harm air quality.

The broad category of facility management addresses a wide range of topics, including:
  • waste management

  • water conservation

  • energy efficiency

  • use of non-toxic cleaning and maintenance materials (pollution prevention)

  • resource-efficient grounds keeping
Improved performance in any one of these areas can produce tangible savings for the business-savvy facility manager.

Key Players
  • Retailers are developing and selling products that are easier on the environment than traditional products. From low-toxic paints to recycled carpet, most building materials retailers sell products through catalogs, online, and in select retail outlets. This briefing has links to several retailers; architects and builders may have other product source suggestions.


  • Suppliers of energy- and water-efficient equipment and services offer a wide range of options to exchange resource-intensive equipment with more efficient analogs. Many have products certified through third-party programs.


  • Landscape architects can help design outdoor areas using native plants or plants that require very little water. Using plants that can thrive on the area’s average rainfall (xeriscaping) eliminates the need for irrigation.


  • State and local governments increasingly are offering incentives to help companies adopt resource-saving techniques and technologies.

Reality Check
Retrofitting, purchasing new equipment, or implementing process changes may require an initial capital investment. Typically, however, those costs are quickly recouped through cost savings.

Dramatic efficiency improvement, particularly in industry, may require dramatic changes to operating processes, such as reconfiguring steam systems or switching to efficient motors.

The implementation process may be slow because the participants must become familiar with resource-efficient facilities management practices. Further, a short-term building occupant may not see any payback, as savings generally match the original investment in three to five years.

Action Plan
There are hundreds of specific building techniques and products to integrate into a green building. The most important consideration is balancing economic input with environmental benefit.

Some general steps:

  • Research applicable laws, codes, and regulations governing renovation or building. Also research applicable incentives available for energy saving measures.


  • Assess building site characteristics (light, water/drainage/soil, air flow, and natural environment).


  • Set a budget and schedule.


  • Choose materials—investigate the cradle-to-grave environmental performance of proposed materials.


  • Have the building commissioned—assesses whether things perform as they should and look for deficiencies in the building and its systems before and after occupancy.
Specific green building ideas:
  • Install motion-sensitive light switches that shut off automatically and task lighting at each desk so individuals can control their own light levels.


  • Use native plants for landscaping.


  • Use recycled-content products.


  • Install energy-efficient appliances.


  • Reduce dependence on air conditioning and heating systems by using natural light and shade as well as building features to store heat and cold.


  • Install recycling facilities in the building.


  • Reuse building components, fixtures, and furniture.


  • Implement water conservation practices, such as using rainwater for irrigation.


  • Supply adequate acoustic controls, such as white noise generators.


  • Research programs that offer financial incentives for efficient resource management.
For more information, please contact American Trust Properties, LLC at 615-688-9600
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