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.
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:
Improved performance in any one of these areas can produce tangible
savings for the business-savvy facility manager.
- waste management
- water conservation
- energy efficiency
- use of non-toxic cleaning and maintenance materials (pollution
- resource-efficient grounds keeping
- 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.
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
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.
There are hundreds of specific
building techniques and products to integrate into a green building.
The most important consideration is balancing economic input with
Some general steps:
Specific green building ideas:
- 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
- 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
For more information, please contact American Trust
Properties, LLC at 615-688-9600.
- 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
- 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
- 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.