Upcoming Meetings

Aug 21
Sep 7

Welcome Back Happy Hour

The Golf Outing is our Chapter Meeting this month, but Join us for Happy Hour at the Holiday Inn bar to kick off the new season

Register Now

Sep 18

2017 IFMA Golf Outing & Dinner

Join us for a fun day of Golf and Dinner

Register Now

Blog

Facility Managers and Workplace Productivity

facility Manager Workplace Productivity

The role of facility managers has undergone a shift with the rise of technological advances, artificial intelligence and data analysis programs. There has been a greater need for managers to focus on their roles as leaders and role models for their organizations by enabling a worker to become the most productive, engaged and satisfied versions of themselves. Solutions to efficiency problems can be found in such worker-oriented thought processes.

Efficient Facilities Management

Facilities Management, as defined by the British Institute of Facilities Management, describes “the processes that maintain and develop an organization’s services to support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.” The role of facility manager is so critical that individuals in the position are often viewed as the company’s leaders and role models. Effectively managing various employee’s morale, productivity and engagement levels is far from an exact science and requires constant vigilance, data collection, measurement, trial and error. What may work for one company’s employees could be disastrous if implemented in another.

Boosting Morale

Team morale is extremely important for a cohesive functioning unit. Psychologist Jim Harter, PhD, points out that “our careers are such a foundational part of our identities and how we think about ourselves.” Facility managers need to be aware of the significance of this. Thankfully, technological advances have allowed managers to become more creative and flexible in boosting team morale. Many companies have begun offering positions that allow individuals to work remotely from the comfort of their home part-time or full-time. Harvard Business Review explains that at-home workers are much happier, more productive and less likely to leave their position. Ctrip’s remote work opportunity study revealed that at-home advisors outperformed their peers in an office setting by almost a full workday a week and took around 13 percent more calls than their office-staff peers. Increasing the availability of such opportunities, providing extra benefits and splurging on company barbeques are all ways that managers can boost the team’s morale.

Increasing Engagement

This type of approach focuses on the connection that workers have to their employer, company and overall job. Matthew Loughran of B2C argues that disengaged workers make up around 70 percent of the entire workforce. Increasing involvement levels starts with an efficient amount of communication between workers and managers. Regular face-to-face meetings, questionnaires, suggestion boxes and recognition programs can help keep managers aware of pressing employee issues. Consistent communication will increase a person’s emotional attachment to their workplace benefiting both the worker and the company overall. Allowing workers to have flexible working schedules and greater input leads to increased individual accountability.

Employee Productivity

Facility managers play a critical role in enabling their team’s production rates. Incredibly, Johnson Controls’ research on worker output discovered that employees only spend about half of their working day focused on work, and almost half of all focused work time is unproductive. Solutions to such efficiency issues range from as simple to adjusting the room temperature to as complicated as handling conflicting personality types in workers. Cornell University studied the effects of room temperature in an office setting and found that raising the temperature five degrees resulted in 44 percent less typing errors. Noise pollution is one of the biggest poisons to a productive office and can be corrected with solutions like a new office layout or printer sound shields. Researchers have also found solutions in creating break rooms, organizing the office, decorating with plants and investing in creating a physically comfortable environment.

The importance of facilities management should not be underestimated. The profession alone represents over 5 percent of global GDP. Incompetent management will lead to lowered cost-efficiency, lowered health and safety standards, decreased lifespan of assets and overall disorganization. Efficient facility managers can provide immeasurable benefits to key areas like worker morale, engagement and production rates by identifying problems and workable solutions.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

OSHA Announces Delay of Electronic Filing Deadline

Long Island Workplace Safety

Obama-era safety regulations, like OSHA’s “Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”, have been coming under strict scrutiny in the new Trump administration. The final rule’s electronic filing components, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, have been highly criticized, challenged in court and now delayed. Under such conditions, facility managers are questioning the best course of action in pursuing compliance.

Filing Date Extended

In May of 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new rule labeled “Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”. The new regulations require employers with 250 or more employees to electronically file all recordable injury and illness information. The rules took effect in January 2017 and mandated that establishments file their submissions for 2016 by July 1, 2017. Additionally, employers with 20-249 employees that are considered “high hazard industries” by OSHA are required to file. The purpose of such electronic filing is to create a publicly available database that discloses each employer’s compliance with safety rules.

The Controversy

Recently, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and suggested extending the deadline for electronic reporting by five months. This would push the deadline until December 1st. The statement provided the reasoning for the extension would be to “allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system which will not be available until August 1.” OSHA’s statement, along with pressure from the National Federation of Independent Business, suggests that the group intends to rework certain aspects of the rule. The National Federation of Independent Business has strongly urged OSHA to push the compliance date into mid-2018. The postponement would give OSHA time to reconsider and revise the final rule.

This all comes following a lawsuit that was filed against OSHA’s rule by the National Association of Manufacturers and other businesses. The lawsuit alleges that OSHA lacks the statutory authority to enforce the rule and that the real-world impacts and costs are too high to implement. Most importantly, the agency runs the risk of sacrificing employee and employer privacy. Linda Kelly, the National Association of Manufacturers Senior Vice President, explains “manufacturers take pride in creating safe workplaces and are supportive of regulations that increase transparency, but this regulation does neither, and we look forward to fighting this in the courts.”

Their requests for a preliminary injunction were denied by the courts, but the issues brought up by the plaintiffs can still be brought back to court. A similar lawsuit against the new regulations has been brought to the Oklahoma federal court arguing that they would violate employer’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.

OSHA’s new regulations are being heavily criticized by a large portion of the business community. Additionally, OSHA has failed to develop and launch a platform or website designed for uploading reports. The postponement of the filing date coupled with the fact that OSHA is not yet accepting any electronic submissions points to a possible revocation or major reconsideration of the rule itself.

What Facility Managers Can Expect

Around 466,000 employers will be affected by the electronic filing requirement under OSHA’s new rule, but facility managers remain unsure how to proceed with the swirling controversy. Union groups and workers safety organizations worry that the pending lawsuits combined with the unpredictable Trump administration may not adequately defend the rule. Attorney Joseph P. Paranac, Jr. explains “while some advocates may be worried about the grant program, it’s too early to mourn the initiative’s demise…companies should refrain from overreacting to reports…Instead, organizations may wish to continue to keep track of developments and consult with the legal or other advisors before committing financial or other resources to a course of action.”

It is too early to speculate about the future of the final rule, and the courts have also conceded that the complaints against the initiative may be changed with OSHA’s reworking of the final rules. For these reasons, the best course of action for facility managers is to consult with advisors and identify the steps and costs required to comply with the current rules. It is best to hold off on immediate implementation.

Edwin G. Foulke Jr., former head of OSHA, strongly believes Trump’s administration will re-examine the final rule. His feelings are validated by many in the business community, while others think it’s too soon to disregard the now in-place regulations. With such confusion, most experts agree that the best course of action for facility managers is to plan for the costs and developments of compliance but hold off on immediately implementing them until further details emerge.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Indoor Air Quality as it Applies to Facility Management

Indoor Air Quality

When the term ‘air quality’ is brought up, most people tend to think of pollutants in the outside air. During the hazy days of summer, when the smog is especially noticeable, our concerns about the air we breathe become forefront in our minds. As facility managers, it is important to recognize that the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can often be more polluted than the air outside.

Indoor air pollution is one of the top 5 threats to our health. Indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than the air we breathe outside. Senior citizens, children, and women are most at risk for developing issues from exposure to indoor air pollution.

What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?

Poor air quality can be caused by a number of things. Most often, mold, mildew and other biological contaminants are the culprit. These minute particles thrive in warm and damp conditions and lead to allergies, difficulty breathing, and itchy, watery eyes.

Other pollutants include cigarette or fire smoke, radon gas, and volatile organic compounds – otherwise known as VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are defined as chemicals containing carbon that can easily turn into vapor or gas. The concentration of many VOCs are significantly higher indoors than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.

The most common form of VOCs come in man-made materials, as the gases can be released from paints and glues, which are often found in the home and in the workplace. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in products used in office buildings. Varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, and degreasing products. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

Why Does Indoor Air Quality Matter?

While outdoor air quality is an issue to be extremely concerned about, indoor air quality is perhaps even more important. For most adults, the majority of our time is spent indoors, making us much more susceptible to the hidden dangers of poor indoor airborne pollutants. These potential irritants are invisible to the human eye, making them that much more difficult to detect and treat.

Breathing in harmful air can cause allergies, respiratory issues, sore throats, nausea, headaches and lethargy. On top of that, prolonged exposure to these microscopic allergens can lead to heart disease and cancer. Any pre-existing health conditions can be seriously worsened by indoor pollutants. Children, people with asthma, and the elderly may be especially sensitive to indoor pollutants. The health effects of these pollutants may appear years later, after prolonged exposure.

How Can a Facility Manager Encourage Good Air Quality?

There are a variety of ways that facility managers can encourage good air quality in their building. These simple, preventative measures include:

  • Make sure that all products and materials in the building have either a low or nonexistent VOC count. These options are available and will completely cut the risk of VOCs out of the equation.
  • If water damage ever occurs, make sure to take care of the problem immediately. If left to sit over time, mold will have the opportunity to grow – especially if in warmer areas. Mold is the most common cause of bad air quality, so taking care of these issues promptly will make keeping air quality high a lot easier.
  • When possible, use a dehumidifier (or air conditioner during summer months). Because mold thrives in damp conditions, removing excess moisture from the air will help a great deal in preventing mold from growing. An acceptable level of humidity is between thirty to fifty percent.
  • In the case of radon gas, specialized testing must be done to determine if the pollutant is present. If found, there are a variety of treatment options, including applying sealants to using passive and active ventilation in crawlspaces and other infected areas.
  • Dust is another home for pollutants to accumulate in over long periods of time. Consistent, thorough cleaning is vital to preventing various chemicals and allergens from building up.
  • Use natural air fresheners and open windows (if possible) to circulate air throughout the building. Air fresheners in all forms – spray, oil, and solid – can emit volatile organic compounds that can be toxic to a building's air quality and its inhabitants. Flowers or natural air fresheners like sliced lemons and baking soda are a good alternative to chemical-laden commercial products.

Indoor air quality is commonly overlooked. It is important for facility management to take these preventative measures and educates themselves on how to handle pollutants when they exist. By taking the necessary steps and encouraging better air quality indoors, facility managers exemplify their role as leaders and demonstrate their sincere concern for the well-being of their buildings occupants.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Women as Leaders in Facility Management

Women in Facilities Management

Women are leading the way in facilities management

There has been a sharp uptick in the number of women taking on leadership roles in the field of facility management over the past decade.

According to a study by the Commercial Real Estate Women Network, the number of women in leadership roles in the building management industry has grown from 32 to more than 36 percent since 2005, and that number is expected to increase as many facilities professionals reach retirement age.

The field is also attracting more women who are leveraging their experience in commercial real estate and making the career switch to what had previously been a male-dominated industry.

This growing diversity is especially important in the field, which has at its core is about people and helping them to thrive. Facility managers exert a lot of power and control over the physical environment that people work in each day, and that environment directly impacts worker productivity, health and well-being, according to experts. In addition, bringing people from diverse backgrounds into the field means more ideas along with an increased chance for selecting the right one.

Why women are successful in facility management

There are numerous reasons why women are successful in the field of building management. They leverage their emotional intuition, intelligence and self-awareness of how their actions impact those around them to solve problems and diffuse crises that occur in the work place.

Women are self-managers with strong time management skills who usually have a daily "to do" list and work to ensure those items are checked off. That is especially important in facility management, where the daily list of "to dos" is virtually never ending.

Women also bring strong social and listening skills as well as empathy to the workplace, allowing them to guide their staffs while increasing productivity.

How to be a successful female facilities manager

Just like their male colleagues, female building managers can take proactive steps to keep their careers on track. among the things you can do are:

  • Do not neglect your education, whether you gain it through experience, attending continuing education classes and seminars or by reading trade journals for 20 minutes each day. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to tackle problems as they arise.
  • Network with other facilities managers, both male and female, so you can keep up to date on the latest trends in the field.
  • Do not be afraid to do anything that you ask your staff to do. Learn about plumbing, electrical systems and heating and ventilation. Put your knowledge to the work by pitching in alongside your staff. And, ask questions if you do not know something. most contractors are happy to share what they know.
  • Remember that the field of building management is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week job that you can never walk away from. Be reachable to your staff through phone calls and texts, especially when you are away from the office.

Problems women face in the field

The demands of being accessible all day, every day make many female facilities manager feel the pressure of balancing work with home life. Pursuing this career is a way of life that many embrace or do not. Be sure to train your staff and hire the additional help you need when necessary to maintain work/life balance.

Getting contractors and vendors to accept a woman as boss in a male dominated field also has some challenges. Cultivate good working relationships with them in order to build mutually respectful and serious professional relationships.

As more women than ever before enter the field, they are changing the face of the face of the facilities industry. Coming from diverse backgrounds, educational levels and skill sets, women are establishing themselves as leaders in what had been a male dominated industry by using their problem solving and communication skills to leverage their career path and open doors for those who will follow in their path.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Fiscally Responsible Ways for Facility Managers to Implement Environmentally-Friendly Practices

Long Island Green Facilities Management

When green initiatives are put in place, everyone from building owners to building occupants benefit.  Energy-efficient buildings cost less to operate, are healthier for their occupants and better for the planet.

There are many ways to achieve the goal of ‘going green’ with your own building. These suggestions offer ways for facility managers to save money and help protect the environment at the same time.

POWER THE BUILDING WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY

Buildings account for about one-third of the energy consumed in the United States. Heating and cooling systems use 60 percent of this energy, while lights and appliances use another 40 percent. Fossil fuels are finite, and there is growing concern about running out of these as the years go on. Many FM’s are exploring hydroelectric, solar and wind energy as viable alternatives to traditional energy sources.  These clean energy options capture natural breezes and the sun's energy and light, and use solar water heating systems, dramatically reducing a building’s energy consumption. Renewable energy practices save money, result in more attractive buildings, improve the environment and strengthen the economy by reducing the need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

INVEST IN DUAL LIGHT CONTROLS

With sizeable buildings, lighting is a major expense and source of energy consumption. Installing dual light controls allow occupants to turn half the lights off whenever full lighting is not needed.

UPGRADE YOUR PLUMBING SYSTEM

Updating your piping system is a pricey operation. However, delaying an upgrade can cost you even more over time in higher utility bills. Replacing the plumbing fixtures themselves can make a significant difference to water usage.  Reports have shown that the most substantial water waste is found in older buildings with aging fixtures. Upgrading to an EPA-approved model can save dollars and gallons.

USE PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS TO CONTROL HEAT AND AC

Set points for your temperature control systems allow the facility manager to choose a desired temperature range, say between 63 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall. For each degree you lower your thermostat (for heat), you will lower your utility bill by an average of one percent.

RELY ON PROFESSIONALS FOR ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

While you may think dusting off your HVAC system is enough to keep it running smoothly, it doesn’t actually work. Only professionals are trained to disassemble these machines for in-depth cleaning and regular maintenance. Implementing a preventive maintenance practice will improve the efficiency of your plant and machinery, and will ensure that your system gets its necessary routine tune-ups.

HARVEST RAINWATER

Whether with a rainwater management system or a similar system, water can be repurposed nearly endlessly. Harvesting rain is a practice that has been around for centuries. Rainwater harvesting systems provide distributed storm water runoff containment while simultaneously storing water which can be used for irrigation, flushing toilets, washing clothes, washing cars, pressure washing, or it can be purified for use as everyday drinking water.

INVEST IN ENERGY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

If you do not yet have energy management software in place at your building, you could be missing out on key metrics that could inform you where you can conserve even more. EMS collects interval data, varying from quarterly billing statements to minute-by-minute smart meter readings. Electricity and natural gas are the most common utilities measured, though systems may monitor steam, petroleum or other energy uses, water use, and even locally generated energy. A professionally-installed energy management system will give you all the information you could possibly need in regards to your impact on the power grid.

UPGRADE TO LEDS

Incandescent light bulbs have been the standard for decades, and they have been improved in the last decade, using up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. However, in recent years, more and more consumers have chosen LED lights both for home and workplace use. LED lights are naturally brighter, and much better for the environment, as they have a longer lifespan and use less energy than incandescent bulbs.

STORE FILES DIGITALLY

It goes without saying that customer records, repair data and other important information should be stored on a computer. Digitally storing documents allows an immediate reduction on paper and ink expenses, and saves man-hours in terms of filing and retrieval. The practice is good for the Earth too. The mass reduction of paper use can have a profound effect on the environment.  The United States pulp and paper industry is the 2nd largest consumer of our country’s energy. A paperless solution will serve to reduce costs, cut down on clutter, and take less of a toll on the environment.

INVEST IN PLANTS THAT REQUIRE LESS WATER

The landscaping around your building requires regular watering. This can lead to a tremendous waste of resources. All plants need water to survive. However, like plants that require more water, there are plants that grow in a lack of water. They are the best drought tolerant plants and can live without water for a long time. Plants are typically separated into three water categories: very low, low and medium. Speak to your landscaper to determine if there are low water plants that can be planted on your property to help reduce the amount of water used and wasted at your facility.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Facility Managers and Their Role in an On-Site Emergency

Facilities Management Emergency Response

While many facilities managers prefer to maintain a behind-the-scenes role in the buildings they oversee, there are times when your role becomes critically important. In an emergency, FMs must take charge. You know the space better than anyone, and are able to summon resources quickly and get people where they need to go.

The best emergency response comes from thoughtful preparation. In an emergency, the facility manager defines everyone’s role so they know what to do when the moment arises. It is his or her responsibility to define mission-critical functions and assess where vulnerabilities lie. The FM coordinates all of the parts of the preparedness plan that is in place for your facility; communicating that plan to all owners, managers and occupants; and running practice scenarios to identify breakpoints in the plan. The FM takes into account new circumstances, the changing needs of building occupants, and feedback from stakeholders to tweak the plan as needed.

How Facility Managers Can Best Prepare for an Emergency

The most important key to a successfully implemented building operations plan is preparation. All emergencies, from fires to natural disasters to terrorist attacks, can cripple a facility’s operations. It is vital that your facility management staff create a thorough emergency plan.

An emergency plan should cover four key issues:

It should identify the critical building systems that must be kept functional. There are state and federal regulations and standards that address the minimum basic requirements needed for communication, emergency power, water, fire protection, fuel storage, HVAC, and lighting systems. Covered under these requirements are the safety needs of the employees, residents and visitors of the facility. Keep in mind that these requirements do not necessarily cover the services many facilities will face after an emergency has occurred.

It should include a list of everyone who occupies the building on a regular basis. Maintaining a comprehensive list of anyone and everyone you can reasonably expect will be in your facility during an emergency. Include contact information, a cell phone number and a work email, so you are able to reach them if need be. Facility managers have an obligation to ensure the safety of everyone in their facilities.

It should have a list of all equipment and other property that needs to be secured safely. Items such as computer equipment, outdoor furniture, and lawn-maintenance tools must all be properly stored in an emergency. Dedicate this responsibility to one team member to avoid confusion and a breakdown in communication which can cost precious time in an emergency situation.

It should include a checklist for every action the facilities team needs to carry out during the emergency. As noted above, it is important that every member of your team knows exactly what their duties are in a crisis. Your emergency checklist should be prominently displayed in your facility’s staff room. It is also a good idea to have a few laminated copies of your emergency plan in various central spots in your building.

Improving Your Facility’s Emergency Preparedness

The best way to prepare for an emergency situation is to perform a mock disaster run-through every quarter. This can be anything from a natural disaster such as tornadoes or earthquakes, hurricanes, to a potentially life or death situation such as a terrorist threat or a potentially violent individual in the facility. Choose a scenario and act it out, having everyone involved role-play their own part. After the mock-crisis is over, evaluate your team.

  • How calm did your team remain in the face of this crisis?
  • How well did they gather the facts? Was any relevant data missed that would have aided you in your decision-making?
  • What decisions did you make and how effective where they?
  • What was your team’s reaction time?
  • Using a scale of one to five, how well did you rank in each of the above?
  • How well did your crisis plan work? What impact did it have on employee morale and/or the public’s image of you?

These trial runs will test your team’s ability to recover from unexpected events and highlight any flaws or weaknesses in your plan. It is also important to routinely check the maintenance and functionality of your property’s safety equipment such as sprinklers and alarms, and designing workspaces so that people can freely move to get to an exit.

Create a command center. Devote a space in your facility or off-site that is crisis-ready. Equip the room with supplies such as televisions, phones and computers. This is where your crisis team will gather to discuss developments, stay informed and devise your company’s response. Be sure everyone involved is aware of this space.

It is important that facilities managers communicate to occupants well ahead of time what they need to do in the event of an emergency. Make sure this information gets disseminated to everyone. Many building occupants report that they are not aware of the location of safety equipment or procedures. They believe that their workplaces are unprepared for power outages and natural disasters and they are unsure who to report to with a safety question or concern.

IFMA-Long Island Platinum sponsor Total Fire Protection has performed fire and life safety services for numerous corporate and government clients across the United States. Their professional technicians have decades of experience keeping facilities of all types and sizes up to code and ensuring that tenants are kept safe. They pride themselves in developing lifelong relationships with their clients and partners. Total Fire Protection offers, new and existing customers, comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for their fire and life safety services. In a dire situation, Total Fire Protection will dispatch our emergency response team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your team’s reaction in an on-site emergency can have a drastic effect on the outcome of the situation. If handled properly, the occupants and staff of your facility will emerge from the disaster unscathed and with a deepened level confidence in your management ability.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Is it Time to Upgrade Your Long Island Property’s HVAC System?

long Island hvac system replacement

This is the time of year when most Long Island properties are in the lull between the need for heat and the need for air conditioning. That being said, it will soon be time to turn on your building’s central air conditioning system.  If you are planning to repair or replace your HVAC units or furnaces, now is the time. But do you know if it makes more sense to replace aging units or just maintain them for another season?

With regular maintenance, most commercial HVAC systems last between 15-20 years. If your system is close to the end of its lifespan, it may make financial and logistical sense to upgrade your property’s units. A scheduled replacement is much less difficult to deal with than having to close your building for an extended period of time because you waited until it stopped working to replace it. When you schedule a replacement, you can prepare the tenants in your building(s) and may not even have to close your building, depending on the time of year and the weather.

There are close to five million commercial buildings in the United States today.  Some of these facilities were built or upgraded in recent years with the latest in technology and systems for occupant comfort and convenience, but many others still rely on outdated technology in their HVAC systems.

Commercial buildings consume just over 30 percent of the energy produced in the United States. Heating and cooling costs account for 40 percent of a commercial building’s total electricity bill. Building managers are always looking for ways to cut costs. Some of the greatest cost-cutting opportunity lies with the HVAC system, a property’s biggest energy user and highest controllable expense. Local utility companies throughout the country offer rebates and other business programs that will subsidize and facilitate commercial energy efficiency systems, further reducing the installation expenses associated with an upgrade.

In the next few years, the HVAC systems that were installed in the 1990s will be reaching their end of life. As your building’s equipment ages, maintenance and operating costs increase and reliability decreases.  Today’s heating and cooling systems have made substantial advances in design and efficiency, so facilities managers can look forward to significant operational benefits if they upgrade some or all of the building’s HVAC system.

How Do You Decide Whether to Make Repairs or Replace Your HVAC Units?

One way to know if replacement is the right choice is to check your furnace’s annual fuel utilization efficiency rating (AFUE). This number measures how efficient your unit is in converting fuel energy into heat. The higher the rating, the more efficient it is. For example, an 80 percent AFUE rating on a gas furnace means 20 percent of the heating will escape out the chimney or elsewhere.

The general rule of thumb is: If annual repair costs are more than 10 percent of what it would cost to replace the unit, you may as well replace it. A 10 percent return on capital is a solid return in today’s environment—especially if you’re able to invest in something far more efficient.

According to information from the Department of Energy, replacing an older furnace or boiler with a high efficiency unit, together with upgrades to flues, vents and other systems, can cut energy consumption in half. This is a big improvement over older, low-efficiency systems that log AFUE ratings of only 56 to 70 percent.

If you do decide to switch out your units, be sure to let your accountant know. IRS MACRS rules require that landlords depreciate HVAC units and furnaces in residential properties over 27.5 years. Most units will not last that long, so you will want your accountant to know that you are upgrading out this capital equipment so they can work with you to claim accelerated depreciation when you replace the old units. If you decide to repair instead of replace, you will also see some benefits, as repair costs are generally fully deductible in the current tax year.

Installing a high efficiency HVAC system allows you to effectively manage energy consumption, leading to better indoor air quality, lower costs, and a reduced carbon footprint. Along with regularly scheduled preventative maintenance, your high efficiency HVAC system can actually lower your total energy consumption by up to 50%. During peak summer months, your new system can save you a minimum of 15 percent off of your utility bill, potentially freeing thousands of dollars to allocate elsewhere. When making the decision whether to repair or replace your HVAC system, carefully weigh the pros and cons and consult with your building’s facility maintenance team to determine the most appropriate course of action.

Contact IFMA-Long Island bronze sponsor, Kelair, Inc. for all of your industrial and commercial HVAC needs.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Mail Management in Today’s Work Landscape

Mail Management

There was a time when sorting and delivering a package or letter was as easy as pushing a mail cart throughout your building. Employees worked in offices or other dedicated work spaces and maintained a specific and consistent schedule. Most often, the parcel was handed directly to the recipient at their desk, or, at worst, left with their secretary or co-worker.

Today, employees rarely spend all of their time at the office. Studies report that approximately 60% of employees now work outside the office at least part of the time. Job-sharing, telecommuting and multiple office locations have led to a much more chaotic and frenzied work atmosphere. ‘Remote work’ is booming.  And whether they’re working from home, a favorite coffee shop, a coworking space, or somewhere else entirely, it is apparent that the 9-to-5, 40-hour work week is gone. And it’s not coming back.

Ensuring that important mail gets delivered on time to the right person is more difficult now than ever. Luckily, there are resources available to help facility managers streamline the mail delivery process. Here are three steps to successfully execute mail delivery as the workplace and mail management landscapes progress concurrently with technology.

Implement Mobile Tools

In order for your mail delivery system to be successful, your team must be equipped with the right tools for the job. That means supplying your mail staff with barcode scanners and mobile applications to create a more efficient and reliable mail cycle.

Barcode scanners digitize incoming mail data and enable mailroom employees to sort and track each piece of mail faster and more easily. Mobile apps that can easily be downloaded to cellular phones or other handheld devices easily capture signatures, dates and timestamps in real time as mail travels from source to recipient. This allows building personnel to deliver mail with greater efficiency, accountability and visibility.

Computerize the Mail Management Process

Mail management software has made it simple for organizations to automate tasks such as data entry, item indexing, storage, routing, tracking and sending receipts. There are many software options available for facility and building managers to choose from. This software can send an automatic email notification to the employee letting them know they need to retrieve their package, cutting down on the time team members spend tracking down mail recipients.

Facilities can also install kiosks to assist recipients with mail retrieval. Streamlining the mail distribution process will help ensure prompt and proper delivery in spite of the challenges of a mobile workforce.

Utilize Digital History to Combat Mail Delivery Issues

Prior to the development of mailroom software, undelivered or misplaced packages caused a headache that often required a substantial time commitment to solve. Thanks to current technology, well-equipped mailrooms are able to keep a record of every move a piece of mail makes from arrival to delivery.

Automation apps monitor each step that a package or letter takes in real time. If an item fails to reach its destination, FM’s have the ability to track its history and determine its location. Real-time monitoring also helps mailroom personnel provide specific and accurate delivery estimates.

Today’s business landscape is both complicated and dynamic. Facilities managers are facing greater challenges than ever before. Adapting to our client’s needs requires flexibility and foresight. Fortunately, technology is leading the change, offering heightened knowledge and mobility. With the right tools in place, we have the power to improve efficiencies on an organizational and individual level, establishing ourselves as industry leaders in the process.

By following the suggestions above, you can create a mail delivery system that is efficient and adaptable. Your team and your customers will benefit from greater consistency and accountability, a reduction in human error, lower operational costs and the peace of mind that comes with knowing the job is being done right.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Six Important Skills for Facility Managers

Important Skills For Facility Managers

The field of Facilities Management is one that asks a lot of those who work in it. As facility managers, you are expected to wear many hats. The responsibilities that fall on FM’s are significant, and they require a variety of skill sets. It goes without saying that a facility manager should be a skilled and experienced maintenance person, and should have a strong knowledge of industry standards for operational elements like energy efficiency, sustainability and construction. But the list of skills necessary to successfully manage a facility goes well beyond the obvious resume bullet points.

It is difficult to narrow down all of the strengths and skills that are in demand in the FM marketplace. These are six aptitudes and abilities that will empower you to be a productive facility manager.

1. Strong People Skills

First and foremost, Facilities Management is about the people you serve. Your ability to connect with, engage, and motivate those around you will greatly impact your performance as an FM. Facility managers must communicate regularly with their employees and work with others to make sure the job gets done. Managers must be able to clearly explain the task at hand to different people at all levels in an organization, from subordinates to executive leadership.

Whether it is replying to tenant complaints or managing personnel issues among maintenance staff, facility managers need to be as good with people as they are with tools. Respect is paramount in every successful working relationship. Communicating effectively with your staff means listening as much as you talk. Don’t just convey information. Make sure your meaning is understood and, in turn, make sure you understand others as well. Identify the objectives of the people you work with and make it a priority to build a professional connection that encourages each person to reach their highest potential.

2. A Capacity to Lead the Team

Facility Managers often double as Project Managers. It is commonplace for an FM to work alongside a designated PM. Whatever the task at hand may be, the buck stops with you. It is up to you to motivate your workforce, monitor performance, set goals, and measure results.  As an FM, it is your job to communicate the importance of professionalism and time management to everyone on the team. This will include directing your crew to other tasks to reduce bottlenecks or finding replacements in case of no-shows.  If your contractors aren't of the mindset that their deadlines affect the other members of the project, they need to be convinced.

3. Information Technology Know-How

FMs may not have a formal background in IT, but in today’s world, facility management is more technology-reliant than ever. The more quickly you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of technology, the more valuable you will be in your field. Everything from time sheets to asset monitoring and facility maintenance is managed on the computer. IT plays an invaluable role in the way FMs communicate with their workforce, customers, and coworkers as well.

Your employer will look to you as the expert in facility management software. For this reason, it is imperative that you educate yourself on the latest developments to keep your facility on solid technological ground. Keep apprised of the latest trends in FM software updates and check regularly to make sure your IT platforms are situated to solve problems and eliminate waste.

4. A Go-with-the-Flow Attitude

Flexibility is an extremely valuable characteristic for FM’s. Your employees will look to you to see how you navigate difficulty situations. Are you generally easygoing, or are you naturally “on edge”? If you appear overwhelmed or stressed out, your staff will follow your lead.

The field of FM is ever-changing. Each day is different, and problems pop up without warning. Part of going with the flow means keeping cool in an emergency. Emergencies of any kind are far from uncommon when managing a facility. Whether it's responding to a burst pipe or addressing a budget that doesn't match up with expected figures, the best facility managers are the ones who are able to keep a cool head in the face of any unexpected problem and work toward a solution. If you have never faced a true emergency, you might not know how you may respond. Some people panic; others become instinctively solution-oriented and level-headed. As a general rule, it is always best to stay “cool and collected”, even the direst emergency.

5. An Eye on Sustainability

Sustainability continues to trend not only as a buzzword but also as a corporate value all around the world. That’s especially true in the facilities sector. The benefits of sustainability and green building practices in facility management are well established. Reduction in energy consumption, productivity increases, and waste reduction are just a few of the beneficial effects of sustainability. A sustainable building is a win-win for any company.

Successful and sustainable building operation and proper maintenance requires everyone on staff to take an active interest in preserving the life of the building and improving its efficiency. Your employer will count on you to keep your facility as green as can be. Make sustainability a goal and take proactive steps toward it.

6. An Aptitude for Networking

The most successful FM’s realize they can’t possibly know it all. Whether you have a deep knowledge of a particular area or a broad base of general knowledge, you must rely on experts or your professional network to quickly and easily find out about products, services, technology, techniques and tools. Networking isn’t just about socializing or trying to find the next job. It is a way for facility managers to surround themselves with resources that, at some point, will solve a problem, find resources or provide advice about an issue.

In facilities management, the physical workspace intersects with almost everything that happens inside it. FMs need the ability to network laterally across the entire organization with IT, HR, administration, and other executives. Make an effort to network with colleagues outside of company meetings. Attend trade shows and conferences. Join a professional organization. Network with suppliers and contractors. Join industry-related groups on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Connecting with and talking to others about a problem usually leads to a better solution than solving it alone.

Facility managers oversee the numerous aspects of building management with a goal towards ensuring that all elements come together seamlessly. While the day-to-day tasks of facility managers can vary from operations and maintenance to project planning and management, the number one priority of FM’s is to make sure the facility functions effectively and efficiently. Surround yourself with trained, experienced colleagues and constantly strive to establish and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More

Spring Maintenance Tips for Facility Managers

Spring Maintenance Tips For Facility Managers

It’s hard to believe it, but spring has finally arrived. The recent snowstorms have kept much of the Northeast stuck in the doldrums of winter. Despite the lingering snow on the ground, it is time to think about the upcoming warmer weather and the spring cleaning that comes with it. What can facility managers and building owners do to prepare their property and grounds for the new season?

It is a very smart idea to be proactive and begin thinking about sprucing up your facility. A well-cared-for building is the best way to promote your property. It also ensures your tenants safety. Here are some tips to help you review your maintenance program for the coming year.

1) Make the Best First Impression

When people arrive at your building, the first thing they notice are the grounds. It is a no-brainer to do all you can to give a good first impression before they even walk in the door. Whether you have a contract with a formal landscaper or you handle your buildings lawn and flower maintenance yourself, now is the time to plant seasonal flowers. Flowers will make the right impression. Greenery inside your building will also create a welcoming environment. Ask your facility services provider about grounds beautification, maintenance, and potted plant care. 

2) Spring Walkthrough

This is the time to search your property for any issues. Catching small problems now before they become big ones is an important role of a facility manager. Addressing small details can go a long way towards improving the aesthetics and functionality of your space. Ask your janitorial company and/or handyman to complete the walk through with you, focusing on details you might normally overlook. Some things to inspect for repair/replacement are: doors (door sweeps, door stops, sticking locks, etc.), corner guards, tile and grout, light switches and face plates, ceiling tiles, countertops and shelving, cabinets and hinges, and fire extinguishers. Additionally, a fresh coat of paint and new caulking will make your entire space look fresh and clean.

3) Refresh the Restrooms

Daily cleaning is a necessity for public restrooms. However, periodic deep cleaning is essential for keeping your toilets, sinks, floors and bathroom stalls looking clean and functioning optimally. Dirt and germs inevitably build-up over time, and must be attacked by sanitizing all restroom surfaces, fixtures, and floors. Do mirrors need to be replaced, sinks re-caulked? Are repairs/replacements necessary for toilet paper and hand towel dispensers or baby changing stations? Pay attention to the comments made by occupants about restrooms and perform your own walk-through’s periodically to ensure nothing has been overlooked.

4) Service Air Conditioning Units

Set up a maintenance appointment with your HVAC service provider to give A/C units a thorough spring check-up so they will cool efficiently when the hot weather comes. Coil cleaning can not only boost operating efficiency but can also improve indoor air quality, which keeps everyone healthier. The air conditioning unit has been sitting unused all winter, causing dirt and sludge build-up — which, in turn, means odors, allergens, increased operating costs, and even degradation or possible failure of the unit. Preventive maintenance this spring will keep everyone happy this summer.

5) Tend to Floors and Carpets

Winter is harsh on flooring. Spring is the time to deep clean all carpets, tile and wood floors in your building. Call in a commercial carpet cleaning company to shampoo your carpets. This will refresh them and reduce any allergens. Wait until the worst of the spring pollen is gone, and then have your carpets cleaned according to Carpet and Rug Institute guidelines. Stripping and waxing will extend the life of your hard surfaces. Schools should also schedule the annual maintenance of their gym floors for the summer break. Wood floors usually require light grit screening followed by cleaning and application of a solvent-based gym finish to protect the floor and keep it shining.

The warmer weather can make spring the perfect time to give new aesthetic life to your facility. If you haven’t yet incorporated sustainable products into your facility, talk to an expert who can help you begin with simple changes that will make big differences. At a minimum, your cleaning program should use Green Seal certified chemicals and/or bio-based cleaning alternatives. To further enhance your results, you can incorporate supplies and equipment, such as recycled paper towels, microfiber cloths and mops, Carpet & Rug Institute-certified vacuums, touchless soap and towel dispensers, and automatically flushing toilets. Sustainability programs can be cost neutral when considering all of the proven economic and health benefits they provide.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Read More