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Posts Tagged ‘Going Green’

What does it take to go green?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

 

A hot topic among property owners and managers is “going green.” But what does that phrase really mean? How can you achieve the goal of practicing energy-efficient standards to protect and improve the environment? And can you “go green” without breaking the bank?

As a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), we at Allied Universal are committed to sustainability. So we would like to offer a few explanations and suggestions for property managers and building owners to help sort through all of the hype.

  • What does that phrase “going green” really mean?

The folks at Earth Care say “going green” means using various alternatives to help save energy and the environment. This is a very broad definition because the practice of energy conservation and environmental protection is evolving. At first, just the invention of a few crazy hippies in the 1970s, the environmental movement is now big business.

Consider a recent story in The New York Times, which compared government subsidies to the gold rush, since developers of large-scale clean-energy projects are encouraged to cash in on stimulus spending by adopting green practices. The article discussed a ranch in San Louis Obispo wherein one million solar panels will provide enough power for 100,000 homes, at a cost of $1.6 billion. But subsidies are not limited to large corporations. Even homeowners can benefit from tax incentives like rebates for solar window installation and energy efficient appliances.

  • How can you achieve the goal of practicing energy-efficient standards to protect and improve the environment?

What would it take for the Average Joe to convert his own business and/or property to a facility that is energy efficient? Start small. Wherever you are on your sustainability journey, many options are available for improving performance. You needn’t hire a contractor to rip out all of your walls, ceilings and floors and replace the roof, lighting and parking structure all at once. Instead, find a sustainability consultant and ask what you can conservatively do to reduce your property’s carbon footprint.

  • Is it possible to “go green” without breaking the bank?

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And so it goes with going green. Simple things like starting a recycling program or switching from plastic plates in the cafeteria to eco-friendly productswill effectively help save the planet. Many such actions and products are so simple and affordable; you’ll wonder why you didn’t use them all along.

Are you prepared to Go Green?

One of the best ways to get going in the right direction is to join existing groups that promote earth-friendly construction. The US Green Building Council is one such organization, which is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. The council’s community of leaders is working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation through programs such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which is redefining the way people think about the places where we live, work and learn.

An internationally recognized mark of excellence, LEED is a system which provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. What’s more, the LEED system is set up to evaluate new construction, existing buildings including operations and maintenance, commercial interiors, cores and shells, schools, retail, healthcare, homes and neighborhood development. If you own or manage a facility that would benefit from a LEED-rating evaluation, contact the USGBC today.

When disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information.

It’s an Electronic World After All

Monday, April 19th, 2010
Be careful how you dispose of e-waste.

Be careful how you dispose of e-waste.

Part 5 in a 5-part series

We have come to the fifth and final blog topic for our series about green initiatives for office buildings. Previously, we have discussed green roofs and living walls, implementing tenant recycling, enhancing energy efficiency of HVAC systems and the importance of water conservation.

Today we are going to explore environmentally-sound electronics practices in the workplace. We’ll cover the problems associated with discarded electronic waste and ways that you and your tenants can employ smart electronics usage practices to save energy time and money.

The problem with e-waste

  • According to the EPA, more than 2.25 million tons of televisions, computers, monitors, keyboards, and peripherals were tossed into landfills.
  • Electronics use precious materials such as copper, aluminum and even gold.
  • Millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead.

The solution for handling e-waste

  • Team up with a reputable electronics recycling company and educate tenants on the environmental impacts of proper recycling practices.
  • Purchase products that do not have “planned obsolescence.”
  • Simplify. Making due with less is something our ancestors did out of necessity. Try to remember that the more you have, the more you have to take care of, store, clean and repair. Sometimes, less is more.
  • Encourage tenants to turn off computers and printers when leaving for the day.

Electronics should be on a power strip with an on/off switch, otherwise electronics can continue to draw power when turned off as long as they are plugged into an active power supply.

PCs and monitors have a finite life relative to the number of hours they are turned on.

  • Use products that have been labeled with the Energy Star endorsement:
    • Encourage tenants to purchase energy-efficient computers and appliances.
    • Energy Star products use less energy. For even small-sized office buildings, this translates to substantial annual energy savings.
    • Note that no two products are identical. One Energy Star-certified product can use less than another Energy-Star model. Learn how to read labeling carefully so that you can select the most efficient products.
  • Cell phones:
    • Some tenants assign cell phone devices for every employee. Cell phone technology changes very rapidly and companies often end up swapping out old phones for models with the latest functionality.
    • Phones can be recycled with other electronics or they can be donated.
  • Toner cartridges:
    • Distribute information to tenants about the benefits of recycling printer cartridges. Improvements in manufacturing processes enable re-manufactured cartridges to print images equal in quality to those produced by new cartridges.
    • Most toner ink is petroleum-based, and can emit volatile compounds when used. Encourage tenants to use soy-based cartridges to cut down on indoor air pollution.

With office electronics, it’s important to remember the green slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” By observing this practice, it is entirely possible to drastically reduce the amount of items used. Encourage tenants to delay purchasing new equipment when current electronics work properly. Reusing toner cartridges and cell phones puts less of a strain on natural resources. And recycling keeps electronic waste out of our landfills!

Thanks for reading our series about strategies for maintaining green commercial and residential properties. Remember that beyond the environmental and social benefits, green initiatives can result in real cost savings for building owners and tenants.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Going Green with HVAC

Monday, April 5th, 2010
Go Green with HVAC Solutions

Go Green with HVAC Solutions

Part 3 in a Series

While we are not experts at HVAC, here are some basic tips. For more information, please contact your HVAC professional.

In previous posts in this series, we’ve discussed green roofs and recycling programs. Today we are looking at more “behind the scenes” ways you can reduce your building’s carbon footprint.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings account for 18 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. In a typical office building, energy use accounts for 30 percent of operating costs, which is the single biggest category of controllable costs. Reducing energy usage can result in significant long-term reduction of building expenses, freeing up capital you could use for other improvements such as landscaping or painting.

Today’s blog covers ways you can improve your building’s HVAC and other systems to improve energy efficiency and save on costs.

Reduce the need for heating and air conditioning:

  • Review building insulation and fill gaps with the most efficient materials.
  • Reduce the building’s “solar gain” by installing reflective roofing materials and tinted windows. These are especially important in buildings located in sunny climates.  Examine office equipment to make sure tenants use the latest technology that produces a minimum of heat. Pay special attention to data centers which require substantial cooling.
  • Simple solutions are best.
    • Encourage tenants to open blinds/curtains where feasible to let in warm sunlight.
    • Ask tenants to close/open windows to warm/cool office spaces before adjusting thermostats.

Selecting and maintaining the heat and AC systems:

  • Review older systems against more efficient, modern units. For many buildings, the initial outlay for a new system could potentially be recouped through annual energy savings. Talk to an HVAC specialist about potential savings.
  • Don’t purchase a system that is too big for your building. Your installer can test to make sure the “load” recommendation is met for your building.
  • Consider dehumidification systems for humid climates and evaporative coolers in dry climates. As the saying goes, “It’s not the heat. It’s the humidity.”
  • Install quality control systems:
    • Programmable thermostats are important for reducing heating/cooling during off hours. Work closely with facility managers to make sure thermostats are set for the correct temperature.
    • Multiple zones are essential for multi-room and multi-floor buildings. Tenants will inevitably have different needs. Some might have 20 employees working in one space, while others might have only a few employees who work in small, individual offices.
    • CO2 sensors dynamically adjust heating/cooling by measuring CO2 amounts.

Proper maintenance:

  • As with all mechanical systems, proper maintenance can extend life and performance.
  • Replace air filters frequently with high quality filters.
  • Inspect all ductwork and piping for any leaks, which can contribute to heat/cooling losses.
  • Check thermostat function to make sure everything is functioning as it should.

Beyond the benefits to the planet and your profits, improving your building’s HVAC systems will lead to comfortable, content tenants. This is great because no one likes to hear disgruntled employees complain about being too hot or cold. And an unhappy employer is a tenant who might not renew his lease in your building! Modern HVAC systems are designed to provide controlled temperatures at maximum comfort.

Visit us next week for part 4 in our series about strategies for maintaining green commercial and residential properties.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Get Tenants Involved in Recycling

Monday, March 29th, 2010
Go Green in Your Property Management

Go Green in Your Property Management

Get Tenants Involved in Recycling

Part 2 in a series about Going Green with Your Property

Last week we talked about literally including green in residential and commercial properties, with features like vegetative roofs and walls. Our topic today is one of the first things many people think about when they think about going green. Recycling!

Helping your tenants recycle can be an important step in reducing your building’s carbon footprint. The first step to take before establishing a comprehensive program is to realize that any successful, long-term recycling plan will require consistent encouragement and ongoing education.

Follow these steps to get your tenants and residents on the road to recycling:

If you want, you can take it slow. Start by recycling paper products and expand the program over time.

  • Choose a company to collect recycled materials:

You may need to enlist more than one firm if you have tenants who produce several types of refuse. For example, some tenants use pallets or unique packing materials that would require a specialty recycling company?

  • Establish recycling protocols and procedures:
    Place bins in each tenant’s office
    Bins should be situated near garbage cans and printer/document rooms
    Tenants should be taught about the types of materials that are recyclable as well as those that are not suitable for recycling.
  • Integrate document shredding:
    Document security is essential for residents of apartment buildings as well as commercial property tenants. Offering commercial-grade shredding machines onsite will give everyone peace of mind about safeguarding important data.
    Make it easy to destroy sensitive documents and collect paper recycling at the same time. Tenants should educate their own employees about procedures for shredding data protection.

    • Encourage long-term participation:
      Check in with tenant management frequently to ensure recycling procedures are being followed. Work together to offer new inducements to employees to reward their green efforts.
    • Get management involved and excited about recycling:
    • Consider a tenant lunch to discuss the program.
    • Encourage commercial tenants to offer incentives to employees for participating in recycling efforts.

Establishing a tenant recycling program is not only environmentally-friendly, it can also be a selling point for new tenants who care about green practices. Implementing a variety of green initiatives can help you maximize occupancy and rental rates in a tight market.

Visit us next week for part 3 in our series about strategies for going green.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, Inc. a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Greenscaping Office Buildings

Sunday, March 21st, 2010
There are lots of ways to improve your building by going green.

There are lots of ways to improve your building by going green.

It’s time to get “green!” This is the first in a series of blogs about how building owners and tenants can embrace green policies in a variety of areas.

This week we will examine trends including green roofs and “living walls,” which are becoming popular for aesthetic and economic reasons.

Green roofs for commercial buildings have substantial vegetation and a growing medium planted over some type of waterproof membrane. For the purposes of today’s blog, we will only talk about green roofs or living walls that have vegetation, not those with other  “green” feature such as solar panels. Green roofs are low maintenance as well as attractive, whether the green space covers the entire roof or just a portion of a rooftop garden area. Through proper planning, a green roof can become a place for tenants to enjoy the natural environment in a private atmosphere. Some green walls also feature edible plants, which give tenants a free source of snacks and great conversation starters.

Your facility management team should work closely with the green-roofing installation team to ensure that the building—

  • Plantings receive adequate yearly sunlight
  • Roof system has enough structural integrity to handle the increased weight of plants, soil, and patio or structural garden elements. The company you select to install the plants should also account for the dramatic weight differences between wet and dry soil.
  • Provides the best for the climate zone and amount of sunlight for the varieties you want to plant.

Benefits abound if you choose to plant vegetation on roofs and walls:

  • Increased air quality of the surrounding area. Some living wall structures can be integrated into a building’s air circulation system, effectively “scrubbing” the air.
  • Provides a natural habitat for birds and other animal life
  • Selling point for tenants who appreciate ecologically-friendly buildings
  • Storm water control, including a reduction in contaminants in rainwater runoff
  • “Greywater” can be used in some building-designs to water plants
  • Energy savings provide a buffer between the ambient temperature and the roof’s insulation. Living walls can also provide shade.
  • Life of the roof materials benefit from ultraviolet protection, allowing vegetative roof membranes to last longer than conventional materials
  • Wellness and aesthetic appeal – tenants will benefit from exposure to more natural surroundings

Admittedly, potential disadvantages to green roofs and living walls should be considered prior to installation

  • Maintenance issues, such as pruning of vegetation and ensuring HVAC systems still function properly. Living walls require frequent attention to support structures and plant life.
  • Increased short-term costs, compared to traditional roofs
  • Nature might intrude too much. Vegetation could attract birds or harmful insects to the area.

Green roofs and living walls can provide tangible benefits for building owners and tenants. In this tight leasing market, offering green features could be what sets your building apart from property owners and managers who offer more traditional office space.

Visit us next week for part 2 in our series about green property strategies.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.