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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.

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