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4 Ways to Make Your Facility More Environmentally Friendly

For many communities, Earth Day means hosting special events like trash pick-ups, nature walks and other green-themed events to remind people to take care of the world around them. As a facility manager, you have the choice to make impactful decisions for your buildings and occupants every day. There are dozens of innovative technologies on the market that boast sustainable outcomes, but if you’re worried about time or budget, we rounded up four easy ways to start going green in your facilities that are simple enough you could start today.  

1. Implement Sustainable Policies and Guidelines

The Federal Energy Management Program released the third version of it’s Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Best Practices Guide eight years ago for federal buildings, but the themes transcend time and most industries. These guidelines focus on how to maximize your team’s efficiency with sustainable technologies. The experts behind the report state that if you follow their best practices, you’ll save 5% to 20% on energy costs while also be doing the environment a favor.

Is it worth the cost?

The guidelines are free to implement and don’t include any capital investment. There could be training costs associated with new practices, and, although it shouldn’t be substantial, these personnel resources will impact the return on investment (ROI) of implementing these guidelines.

Does it work?

The experts at the Federal Energy Management Program stand behind these guidelines and continue to refine them. We also asked our in-house facility management expert, Ken Jordan, who confirmed both the fiscal and sustainability benefits.

How do I get started?

Take a look at the guidelines and share them with your O&M leaders and technical staff to develop the best approach for your facility. Then, with your team on the same page, present your proposal to the rest of the operations, maintenance, engineering, training and administrative teams.

2. Preventative Maintenance

Another way to make your facilities more sustainable is by implementing a preventive maintenance routine. Equipment lasts longer if it’s correctly maintained, so that means less waste from assets not being used for their full useful life, which cost you more money, and more savings because you’re not constantly replacing equipment.

The best way to implement a preventive maintenance plan is by choosing a software that can automate the process and keep detailed records on your assets. The right software lets you track an asset’s age, previous issues, maintenance history and schedule any future appointments. As an added benefit, using an automated facility software eliminates any need for paper work orders and service requests that ultimately pile up, get lost, or thrown away.

Is it worth the cost?

Depending on the facility software you use, the benefits of a preventative maintenance plan can easily outweigh software costs by improving your team’s efficiency and eliminating paper waste.

Does it work?

Yes. Research has shown that for most assets, preventative maintenance is good for the environment because it extends their useful life and reduces the amount of waste potentially ending up in a landfill.

How do I get started?

An easy way to start looking at your current system is with a Preventative Maintenance Checklist. This will help you identify areas for improvement and reinforce existing approaches.

3. Find Green Cleaning Alternatives

Another easy way to see green results in your facilities is by choosing environmentally friendly cleaning supplies for your janitorial staff. While these cleaners have a direct impact on the world we live in (less runoff into water bodies and fewer toxic chemicals being released into the air), they can also provide a safer working environment for your team.

Use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies stamped with the EPA Safer Choice label in your facility

Just like in the consumer industry though, be wary of products stamped with eco-friendly or biodegradable, since they’re buzz words and don’t always have the data to support them. Instead, look for the EPA’s Safer Choice label, which designates a product as meeting the expectations for its Design for the Environment (DfE) program.

An easy way to track when and which cleaners are being used where is with an automated work order system that includes which cleaners should be used to meet O&M standards. These specifications, along with any supporting guidelines or product information, can be easily stored in a work order system at the asset level and connected to the central document library.

Are they worth the cost?

Many suppliers are beginning to offer greener alternatives for cleaning supplies at competitive prices. In addition to helping the environment, green cleaning supplies also keep the air quality and working conditions healthier for employees, mitigating risk from exposure to dangerous substances and decreasing the chances employees miss work due to health issues.

Does it work?

Most green cleaning supplies are just as effective as their non-certified counterparts.

How do I get started?

The Environmental Protection Agency came out with federal guidelines that you can easily modify for your own green cleaning supply purchases here.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

According to a report from 2014, the EPA found that only about a quarter of waste Americans created was recycled, while more than 50 percent endup in a landfill. Since almost everything can be recycled, there’s room for big improvement. For facility managers, this means being conscious of how much waste is getting thrown away that could be recycled by your building teams, donating old equipment or materials that you no longer use, and providing your occupants with ways to recycle throughout the facility.

Is it worth the cost?

Yes, and you could actually save money if your occupants are active recyclers. The price for trash and recycling pick up varies due of state processing costs, but in Madison, Wis., getting a 4-yard recycling dumpster is $50 cheaper per week than a trash one. You’ll still want the trash bin because not everything can be recycled, but if you’re throwing out about 8-yards of trash now and start recycling half, you’ll save money.

Does it work?

Yes. The EPA releases data to support this program.

How do I get started?

Adding a location and combining them with key data and documents is an easy way to figure out how your recycling pins are dispersed. Once all your occupants have convenient access to a bin, you can start increasing awareness about what can and cannot be recycled.

Download - The Ultimate Preventative Maintenance Checklist

 Does your facility do anything unique to be more environmentally friendly? What are some challenges you’ve had to making these sustainable switches? We’d love to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to comment below!

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