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The Many Benefits of Ground Maintenance

The Many Benefits of Ground Maintenance

It may be easy to discount mowing, raking, pruning, and other upkeep of your commercial property as irrelevant and unimportant chores. However, it actually does have critical consequences for your building. You may commit yourself fully to high-quality lawn care by discovering how it benefits your Long Island building’s appearance, safety, and cost efficiency.

Increased Revenue

Having a well-kept landscape for your Long Island business can significantly increase its revenue and profitability. In fact, one study showed that effective lawn care can increase rental rates in a commercial building by as much as seven percent. Further, respondents to the survey reported being willing to spend as much as 10 percent more on products and services if a building in Long Island and elsewhere had high-quality tree canopies and other landscaping features.

Moreover, people surveyed about how important landscaping is to where they shop or do business at responded that would be willing to travel greater distances to businesses that had well-kept properties. They also would spend more time at these commercial districts if the properties were well groomed and visually appealing.

Reduced Heating and Cooling Costs

Effective landscaping can also make a significant impact on your building’s utility costs. During the summer, for example, you may spend thousands of dollars keeping the building at a cool and constant temperature. However, the sun and heat streaming in through windows can make your efforts more challenging during the hottest times of the year.

When you plant and maintain trees that can grow and provide shading to the building, you provide a natural barrier against the heat and sunlight. The shade from the trees can help keep the building’s interior cooler during the hottest months of summer. In turn, you spend less money on air conditioning bills.

Likewise, well thought out landscaping can keep your building warm in the winter. Shrubs planted along the bottoms of windows and along the foundation can keep heat in during the cold winter season. Vegetation planted strategically along the bottom level of the building can act as insulation when the weather is at its coldest.

Improve Safety

Vegetation like shrubs, flower beds, and small trees can also provide a safety barrier for your commercial property. When you plant them under and along the windows on the building’s ground level, you make it more difficult for burglars and trespassers to break into the building. They may be unable to climb over the vegetation to breach the windows and gain access to the business. 

Along with installing a security alarm for your building, you can also discourage break-ins by planting strategic vegetation like cacti, flowering shrubs, and thorn bushes under and along windows. Trespassers may decide the effort is not worth the risk of breaking into the business.

Improve Mental Health

Attractive landscaping can also improve the mental health of people who work or do business within the building. Studies have shown that visually appealing gardens significantly reduce stress levels in people. It also improves health outcomes of patients who can see these gardens from the windows of hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities. 

Given the positive impact of beautiful landscaping on people’s mental health, facilities managers have seen an increased demand for gardens for hospitals and healthcare facilities. FMs can play a key role in lowering stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions in people who visit their buildings. 

Noise Reduction

Finally, practical lawn care can reduce the amount of noise that comes in and out of your building. Trees, shrubs, and flower beds can absorb noise pollution and prevent it from going into the building or out into the neighborhood. When noise levels are a concern, you can effectively minimize them by planting vegetation like trees, shrubs, and more around your commercial property.

As a facilities manager, you have the responsibility to maintain your property’s lawn and garden areas. You can appreciate this task even more by realizing the positive impact it has on numerous facets of your building.

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Keeping a Facility Running During Expansion or Renovation

Keeping a Facility Running During Expansion or Renovation

Most buildings at some point need to undergo renovations or expansions. Few older buildings can accommodate the hectic pace and increased volume of today's consumers. They must be renovated and expanded in order to serve the public better.

When you plan on renovating or expanding the building in which your own organization or company is located, you might wonder how you can remain open for business without impeding the construction projects. By keeping these tips in mind, you could keep your doors open while meeting the demands of your public and still affording the construction crew the room they need in which to work.

Coordinating Your Daily Operations around Construction

During the renovation or expansion work, you will need to figure out how to run your organization or business without getting in the way of the construction workers. If possible, you could simply relocate some or all of your business's operations to another part of the building. If you have rooms in the building currently not being used, you could move your employees, equipment, and other daily operations to these areas while allowing the construction crew to work in parts of the building where you normally have operations set up.

If you cannot completely relocate to another part of the building, you may need to do mini-relocations during the expansions or renovating. While one hallway or corner of the building is being worked on, you could have your employees share office spaces until the work in that part is finished. You can continue in this way until all of the construction work is done.

If it is impossible to relocate even small areas of the building during the construction work, you may need to ask the remodelers to do their work during the evening hours or on the weekends. This accommodation would allow you to continue to run your business during normal working hours and remain completely out of the way during the after hours when the construction crew is on site.

Reasons to Stay Open during the Work

You might wonder if it is best for you just to shut down during the construction project. Depending on the industry in which your business or organization operates, you may not be able to and may even be required by law to keep your doors open.

For example, if yours is the only hospital or medical clinic in the county, you may not be able to safely close your doors until the remodeling work is finished. Patients who come to your facility for care could experience dire illnesses that could put their health at risk. In this instance, you could incur fines or penalties from government regulators and the state medical board if you shut down during the construction.

Likewise, if you run a school, you cannot really shut your doors during the school year. By law, students have to be educated. They cannot transfer to another school until your building is renovated. You have to remain in operation even while the work is ongoing.

Finally, if you are a business owner, you may not be able to afford to shut down if you want to continue to make a profit. You still have bills and employees to pay. How can you do that when the doors of your business are closed and you have no money coming in? Staying open during construction work is the only way you can generate revenue. 

Hiring a Contractor

You might be able to minimize the amount of time you have to coexist with a construction crew by vetting contractors for the job thoroughly first. Before you hire one to do the renovation and expansion work, you may want to find out details like:

  • Whether or not the contractor has done projects like yours before
  • What kind of network of subcontractors the contractor has access to
  • How flexible the contractor's work plans can be if your business or customer demands change
  • How the contractor can make future renovations or expansions seamless


These details can let you know if the contractor can get the work done in a timely manner and accommodate you as a building owner.

Expansions and renovations are part and parcel of owning and operating a business or organization in most buildings today. At some point, you may need to hire a construction crew to make improvements to your building. You can outlast the projects by knowing how to coexist alongside a renovation crew and how to hire a contractor who is qualified for the work.

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Facility Managers

Spring Cleaning Tips For Facility Managers

Spring is when we deep-clean and maintain our homes, and the same should be true for our facilities. After being closed up all winter, things get dusty, grimy, and in need of maintenance. For a facility manager, this time of year is the perfect time to:

Handle High-Traffic Flooring

Road salt, sand, mud, and dirty slush all do a serious number on floors throughout the winter season. By the time spring rolls around, they're often pretty grimy looking, if not also scratched and dull. For facilities with carpeting, now's the time to invest in a good deep cleaning. For those with flooring, it might be time to have it cleaned and polished if not stripped and re-finished.

Take Care of Landscaping

Greenery is pretty much an afterthought in winter when everything is either dormant and brown or covered in snow. Now that the weather is warming up, it's time to clear away landscaping debris, lay down fresh mulch, and prune trees and bushes. Most plants go through a growth spurt in spring -- especially those who produce leaves and flowers on new branches -- so doing some pruning now helps promote lots of lush, healthy new growth.

Check on Your HVAC Systems

As the weather warms up, air conditioning systems get pressed into service. Facility managers should keep themselves from getting stuck holding the bag if a unit fails this summer -- a little HVAC maintenance now, while the weather is mild, will go a long way toward preventing costly problems in the future. Have units cleaned, replace filters, and check condenser coils and coolant levels now.

Don't Forget the Outside

Winter's barrage of snow and freezing rain doesn't do building exteriors any favors. Odds are, windows and facades are looking a little dingy right about now. Dirty windows don't just look bad, they can actually affect customers and employees by reducing the amount of natural light available indoors. Grimy facades can negatively impact customer perceptions of a place. Now's the time to thoroughly wash windows inside and out, and make sure the facility's exterior is looking its best.

Keep Uninvited Guests Out

As the weather warms up, insect populations surge and many pests increase their activity. Dealing with a serious infestation isn't just expensive and unpleasant -- it can lead to a lot of downtime, as pest control chemicals may not be safe for employees or customers. In this case, an ounce of prevention is more than worth a pound of cure. Learn what pests are endemic to the area, and work proactively to keep them outside where they belong.

Take Care of the Small Stuff

When a facility's staff is stuck bouncing from removing snow, to cleaning floors, to handling leaks, to taking care of heating problems, it doesn't leave much time to handle the little things. Unfortunately, a dusty corner here, a dead light bulb there, and a spot of peeling paint there all add up over time and create an unfavorable impression with employees and customers. Pay attention to details and, now that severe weather issues have passed, use this time to take care of the little things that keep a building looking neat and well-maintained.

Deep Clean Bathrooms

Regular daily maintenance should keep a facility's bathroom neat and in good working order, but that doesn't mean it won't benefit from a solid deep cleaning. Regular deep cleanings make routine maintenance easier, keep things looking good, and can even help reduce absenteeism due to illness. Get rid of any lingering grime, sanitize surfaces, and polish bathroom hardware to keep bathrooms neat and hygienic. For a facility manager, spring can be almost like a breath of fresh air after dealing with the challenges of winter weather. With these spring cleaning tips, you can make sure your buildings look fresh and well-maintained and keep your clientele and staff happy and productive.

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Parking Lot Maintenance Tips for Facility Managers

Parking Lot Maintenance Tips for Facility Managers

Parking lots may seem like unassuming fixtures that have no great influence over the integrity or accessibility of a business. In fact, they many times give the first impression to customers and can determine whether or not people will visit a business or pass it by in favor of a competitor. 

Because of its importance, Long Island facilities managers like you want to take all necessary steps to keep your parking lot in good condition. You can maintain yours and prevent costly and detrimental damages by using these tips for proactive parking lot maintenance.

Perform Regular Inspections

In many instances, costly damages can be prevented by performing routine inspections of the parking lot. A routine inspection does not necessarily have to take a lot of time or effort. In fact, it can be done simply by walking around the parking lot to look for signs of damages or disrepair like:

  • Cracks
  • Holes
  • Oil or gas spills
  • Standing water


By performing routine parking lot maintenance, you can head off damages that could cost your company a substantial amount of money in the future.

Account for the Weather

The weather in Long Island can vary significantly from day to day. When you are planning projects for parking lot maintenance, you have to take into account the weather and how it could potentially impact the integrity of the parking lot. 

For example, during the springtime, you may find it challenging to get maintenance projects done on your parking lot. The rain and humidity prevent materials like concrete and asphalt from setting properly. 

At the same time, extreme heat can cause new asphalt or concrete to dry prematurely or crack during the drying process. Before you decide what projects to undertake on your parking lot, you should check the forecast for Long Island and plan repair and maintenance work accordingly.

Do Spot Repairs

Whenever you find minor damages in your parking lot, you should do spot repairs to prevent them from getting larger. For example, a small crack or hole in the parking lot may not seem like that big of a deal. 

In fact, if water gets in these crevices, it can freeze and then expand the tear or hole as it thaws. In a short period of time, a small crack or hole could widen into a major crevice that cars and pedestrians cannot drive or walk over. Rather than allow these minor damages to spread, you could keep them in check by doing spot repairs whenever you find them.

Sealcoat Every Few Years

Every few years, you should make it a priority to sealcoat your business’s parking lot. Before you do this, however, you should make sure the sealcoat is environmentally friendly.

You also want it to match the color and appearance of the existing asphalt. The rate at which you sealcoat it will depend on a variety of factors like the weather and the rate of traffic that comes in and out of the parking lot.

Clean Up Gas and Oil Spills

As you inspect your parking lot, you should keep a close eye out for gas and oil spills. Gas and oil have chemicals in them that can eat away at the material that binds asphalt and cement. 

If these spills are not cleaned up in good time, they could cause significant deterioration of the parking lot. Rather than watch the asphalt coating on your parking lot erode away, you should clean up gas and oil spills as soon as you see them.

Check and Clean Out the Drainage System

Every sound parking lot should have a reliable drainage system installed on it. This system allows water to drain off the surface of the parking lot. It prevents the moisture from puddles and spills from eating away at the parking lot’s surface. 

If you see puddles of standing water or water that does not appear to drain as quickly as before, you should check the drains to make sure they are not clogged. If they are laden with debris, you should clean out the system right away so water can drain properly. A drainage system that is cleaned out on a regular basis is crucial to keeping your parking lot dry.

Use Striping

Another tip for keeping your parking lot in good condition involves using striping to indicate the location of parking spaces. When customers drive into the parking lot, they want to know immediately where they can park. If there are no stripes indicating where the parking stalls are, people may end up parking haphazardly. 

Striping can also indicate the flow of traffic in and out of the business's parking area. Once the paint starts to fade, you should repaint the stripes for the safety and convenience of your business.

These maintenance and repair tips can help facilities managers like you prevent damages in your business’s parking lot. They head off major damages that can cost the business a lot of money. They also make the parking lot safer and easier for customers to access.

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Does Your Building Need an Electrical Service Upgrade?

The electrical wiring in your building plays a crucial role in your convenience and safety. When it has reached its point of usefulness, it may be time to replace or upgrade the entire system. These circumstances should signal to you that it is time for an electric service upgrade in your building.

Insufficient Number of Outlets

When you do not seem to have enough outlets for all of your electrical gadgets, you should take this as a sign that it is time for an electric service upgrade. Running extension cords and power strips from the outlets may give you the power you need for now. However, it also poses a fire and electric shock risk to the rest of the building.

Rather than use multiple power strips and extension cords for your TV, phone charger, computer, and other devices, you can get the number of outlets you need by rewiring your building and putting in new outlets. This option can be easier and less risky for your home or business. It also lowers the chances of a fire breaking out because of an electrical overload.

Flickering Lights

Another tell-tale sign that it may be time to upgrade your electrical system is if your lights regularly flick on and off without warning. For example, when your lights flicker as your air conditioner comes on, it could signal that your building is not getting enough power. You are using more power than for what your building was designed.

Upgrading the system will prevent the lights from flickering on and off whenever other electrical devices power on in your home or business. It also provides your building with enough power to operate safely on a daily basis.

Changes to the Electrical Code

Cities and states make changes to the current electrical codes all of the time. Builders may follow the most current code when creating a new building, only to find out that the code was changed shortly before the project was finished.

Even if you live in a new home, chances are that the electrical codes are currently or will shortly be outdated. When you want to keep your place updated with the most current electrical code, you should follow the recommendations as laid out by city or state code enforcers.

Some of the changes may include getting rid of outlets that are located on the kitchen back splash. It also may require you to put in more outlets in the kitchen, which could in turn force you to rearrange your appliances. Nonetheless, your home will be up-to-date with the most current electrical code until it is changed again in the next few years.

Energy Code Changes

You also may need to upgrade your electrical service whenever there is a change to the energy code. The code's most recent update recommended the installation of LED and compact fluorescent lighting, for example. It recommended that incandescent lighting be eliminated.

It also recommended that every room in a home or business have light switches that are easier to use and control. These changes are designed to prevent the overuse of electricity.

Deteriorating Electrical System

Finally, your home or business may need an upgrade to its electrical system if its current one is quickly deteriorating. The system may be deemed to be deteriorated or out of compliance if its wiring insulation is not up to code.

Further, the conductors in the system should have flexible insulation. If the insulation is brittle and weak, it could lead to a line-to-ground fault. This in turn could result in a risk of fire and electrical shock.

To replace the deteriorated system, you should ensure that the new wiring is suitable and capable of carrying the expected electricity load. You should also replace old wiring with new conductors that are capable of carrying a greater capacity.

These signs should indicate to you that it is time to upgrade the electrical service in your building. The upgrade will reduce the risk of fire and electrical shocks. It also will help your building use electrical power more efficiently.

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Is it Time to Replace Your Building's Boiler?

As a facilities manager, one of your most important duties involves making sure the building's hot water boiler functions correctly. This appliance provides the building with hot water and heat and ensures that critical daily functions can be carried out efficiently.

Even so, you may wonder at what point you will need to have it replaced. You can know it is time to have it replaced by learning more about the tell-tale signs of an aging or malfunctioning hot water boiler.

Puddles of Water


Anytime you see puddles of water standing near or under the hot water boiler, you can be certain that it needs to be serviced if not replaced entirely. Puddles indicate that the boiler has sustained a leak somewhere in its system. Even the smallest crack in the boiler can result in a hot water leak that can be costly to repair.

Further, a water leak from a boiler leads to a host of expensive and devastating damages in your building. For example, standing water under or near the boiler invites fungus like black mold to take root and start growing in the floors, walls, and elsewhere. Mold can be costly to get rid of and dangerous the health of people who work or do business in the building.

Further, water leaks often rot the floors, walls, and sheet rock. Rather than face these costly damages, you can avoid them by having the hot water boiler serviced regularly and by replacing it when it has outlived its usefulness.

High Energy Bills


When the utility bills for your building start increasing steadily, you might suspect that the underlying cause could be a faulty hot water boiler. Boilers that have lived past their prime typically cause gas and electricity costs in a building to rise. The aged boiler must work overtime to produce the required heat and hot water, putting a strain on the building's utilities and thus raising their costs.

You can likewise know it is time to have the boiler serviced if not replaced entirely if you hear the appliance making knocking or banging noises or if you suspect that sediment has built up in the bottom of the boiler's tank. When these damages cannot be repaired, it is time to invest in a new boiler for your building. You could save up to 40 percent of your utility costs by purchasing a new boiler to replace an outdated one. 

Age


Boilers that are 20 years old if not older should be replaced immediately. Most of these appliances cannot last beyond 20 years. Once they reach that age, they have long lived out their usefulness to your building.

If you are not sure how old your boiler is, you should ask a service technician to examine it and estimate its age. Replacing an aged boiler not only reduces the costs of your building's utilities. It also ensures your building will have the heat and hot water it needs to function properly on a daily basis. 

Reliability


When it seems that you are having to have the boiler serviced numerous times each year, it may be time to have it replaced entirely. In fact, repeated malfunctions should be taken as a sign that your boiler has outlived its usefulness and no longer can keep up with the demands put on it. You will only waste money by having it repeatedly serviced.

Instead, you can save money in the long run by investing now in a new boiler for your building. The new boiler will be able to function at a more efficient pace, thus saving you money on both repairs and utility costs. It also will be able to keep up with the demands for heat and hot water placed on it.


Hot water boilers have finite lives and at some point will need to be replaced rather than serviced. These indicators should signal to you when it is time to invest in a new boiler for your own building. You can carry out one of the most important duties as a facilities manager by knowing when to have a new boiler installed.
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Moisture Management

Facility managers are responsible for managing moisture in their facilities. Proper moisture management involves recognizing your facility’s moisture vulnerabilities, establishing a plan and employing routine maintenance and inspections. The best mold and moisture prevention plans are a combination of both proactive and reactive measures because no single action can completely eradicate the risk of mold spores.

Recognizing Moisture Vulnerabilities

Moisture leads to the growth of molds like Stachybotrys, Penicillium and Aspergillus. These seemingly minor issues can turn disastrous and impact the health of your employees, damage property and cost your business. Surprisingly, molds can cause people to get very sick. Short-term immediate health consequences include symptoms like headaches, allergy attacks and other flu-like symptoms. Left unchecked, continuous exposure to molds may cause neurological diseases, severe respiratory infections and even cancer.

The financial ramifications of failing to properly manage moisture may include lost productivity, damaged property, liability expenses and disruptive clean-up activities. Mold clean-up procedures are expensive because mold spores can spread and colonize unless it is completely contained and removed. You’ll need to hire an expert drying company. For all of these reasons, facility managers need to prioritize moisture management.

Establish a Plan

Facility managers need to develop and establish a working plan for moisture management. Moisture usually enters a facility through air movement, liquid leaks, absorption or diffusion through building materials. Moisture management starts with the building of your facility. Different resources like water vapor diffusion barriers and capillary breaks can be integrated into the building. Next, facility managers will need to establish clear expectations on who will inspect and maintain the resources dedicated to managing moisture. This may include housekeeping staff or third-party contractors.

Facility managers or their assigned staff will need to manage the interior relative humidity to ensure moisture doesn’t harm the facility conditions, perform up-keep on various resources and routinely inspect areas vulnerable to moisture build up. Your moisture management plan should include plans on how to respond if mold is discovered in your facility. The best moisture management plans should include both proactive measures and solutions for reacting if moisture buildup is found.

Maintenance and Inspection

While there is no single maintenance or inspection step that can completely prevent moisture problems, a consistent and steady application of a variety of maintenance and inspection steps can prevent your facility from suffering a disastrous mold or mildew problem. Routine inspections are necessary because mold can grow when moisture is present. Leaky pipes may go unnoticed and develop into an enormous dangerous problem. Water can also be introduced to areas when individuals accidentally leak or spill liquid and fail to properly clean it up.

Facility managers must rely on efficiently managing housekeeping duties to ensure that liquid spills are cleaned up correctly. The biggest reason that routine inspections are needed is because moisture gets into areas simply during normal occupancy. Water vapor can seep into buildings through building materials, condensation or on tracked in on the shoes of employees. Facility managers can’t completely moisture-proof buildings, so it’s crucial to implement a routine maintenance and inspection routine. 

Without a proper maintenance schedule, the resources you’ve dedicated to preventing moisture are likely to degrade and become inefficient. Air-conditioning units need their filters replaced on a regular basis, temperature control systems need to be tested each month and the condensate drainpipes need to be flushed routinely.

In the winter, thermostats must be set above 55 degrees even in unused facilities to prevent water pipes freezing and bursting. In the summer, thermostats should not be set higher than 80 degrees to prevent humidity buildup. Many facility managers find it more efficient to contract these moisture management maintenance schedules out to third-party specialists. 

Moisture management planning involves recognizing your facility’s moisture vulnerabilities, establishing a plan and employing routine maintenance and inspections. Proactively protecting your facility from moisture build up will not always be enough to prevent mold, so you need to have dedicated plans for reacting to mold or moisture problems.

While some facility managers may not prioritize moisture management, failing to do so can cause your entire facility and workforce to be out of commission. Don’t let your facility remain vulnerable to the natural occurrence of moisture buildup and mold. Instead, start working on your moisture management plans now to prevent your facility from getting taken over by mold.

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Fall and Winter Preparedness for Facility Managers

Facility and building managers must prepare for the winter months as the seasons change and the weather becomes increasingly colder. Failing to prepare will inevitably disrupt normal business operations and can potentially damage the company’s finances, reputation, property and employees. The most important steps managers need to take include conducting an initial risk assessment, preparing for winter maintenance, aiming for energy efficiency, protecting your data and technology and considering a telecommuting plan. 


Risk Assessment

The first step every facility manager needs to take in preparation for the winter months is to conduct an extensive risk assessment on your facility. Start this process by evaluating existing programs and processes, noting your company’s current level of preparedness and identifying any necessary improvements. The top three reasons to perform risk assessments are to assist in identifying vulnerabilities, evaluate threats and discover recommendations for improvement. 

Winter Maintenance

One of the largest concerns for businesses in the winter are icy walkways that can cause dangerous slips and falls. One common and necessary winter maintenance solution involves melting ice around outside walkways, parking lots and roadways. Rock salt is the most frequent and cost-effective type of ice melt product, but this solution can damage vegetation. Ensure your business has a plan for snow and ice removal.

Facility managers should also consider installing indoor absorbent carpeting to collect tracked-in snow. Facility managers also need to ensure the indoor cleaning team is removing any tracked-in salt and salt. Another important winter maintenance step is preparing and winterizing your pipes for potential freezes. Always perform a roof inspection to repair any trouble spots before the first snowfall, and be sure to clean out any roof drains and gutters. Interior winter maintenance may involve a heating system inspection, routine window checks and a full duct cleaning. 

Aim for Energy Efficiency

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that energy is often a commercial property’s largest operating expense. Aiming for energy efficiency is cost-effective, minimizes waste and maximizes your business’ environmental performance. Incredibly, an overlooked and seemingly trivial issue like cracks or an improperly sealed window can cost your company hundreds of dollars in the winter months. Reduce wasted energy by correcting any potential issues identified in your overall risk assessment. 

Protect Your Data and Technology

Winter storms frequently cause power outages. The most common and cost-effective solutions for facility managers to consider for power outages include surge protectors and offline back-up storage systems. Surge protectors absorb any extra electrical energy when power is restored to your building. This small step protects your electrical devices from damage and important data from being lost.

Data-focused centers may also want to consider an uninterruptible power supply unit that can prevent power loss and business disruption during the winter months. Most modern-day companies depend on the flow of information to and from various computers.

It is extremely important for facility managers to consider frequently backing up their data through an off-site cloud service. Failing to do so could result in a catastrophic loss of data or an inability to function until power is restored to incoming and outgoing servers. Cloud services allow for a speedier recovery, improved business continuity and prevents revenue loss during power outages. 


Consider a Telecommuting Plan

The winter months often bring extended periods of dangerous road conditions. If your employees frequently face severe weather conditions or dangerous roads to get to work safely, then you may want to consider implementing a telecommuting plan that allows some work to be done remotely.

The widespread availability of the internet has allowed many companies to offer telecommuting positions. Global Workplace Analytics found that over 50 percent of the United States workforce holds a position that would be at least partially compatible with telework. 

The most important steps facility and building managers need to take in preparation for the winter months include conducting an initial risk assessment, preparing for winter maintenance, aiming for energy efficiency, protecting your data and considering a telecommuting plan.

Failing to adequately prepare for the colder season can result in financial loss, property damage and even employee injury. Don’t leave your business open to these common winter disasters, and instead begin implementing a winter plan now.

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Are Cool Pavements Worth the Investment?

Are Cool Pavements Worth the Investment?

The increasing threat of global warming has pushed both the government sector and private industry into a hunt for smarter, alternative ways of living. One such technology, “cool” or smart pavement, hopes to reduce the concrete jungle effect of big cities by replacing traditional asphalt with reflective material. The upcoming tech has successfully passed initial tests and will be implemented on a larger scale in Los Angeles.

What is Smart Pavement?

Traditional black asphalt absorbs anywhere from 80 to 95 percent of sunlight. In contrast, cooler alternatives are a range of upcoming technologies that seek to reduce the heat entrapment common with public roads. Many contain a GuardTop sealcoating that reflects the heat, enhances water evaporation and remains cooler. The cooler alternative has been successfully tested in select parking lots in Los Angles, and the city hopes to begin testing on public roads. Officials plan to study the public’s reaction, the longevity of the GuardTop coating and the overall effects of the lowered air temperature.

Environmental Benefits

The most beneficial aspects of the cooler alternative to black asphalt are the overall lowered temperature and reduced reliance on A/C units. The impact on the environment of cooling the air temperature down is more relevant than ever as the globe faces unprecedented heating in the modern era. California has allocated $150,000 to a cooler roads project that aims to reduce temperatures by up to fifteen degrees. Alan Barreca, an environmental science professor at the University of California, believes that the temperature difference will be so apparent that it will significantly reduce the use of air conditioning. If his predictions are accurate, then greenhouse gases could be drastically reduced in areas with heavy traffic.

Global warming advocates are in agreement with the scientific community about the dire consequences to both the environment and humanity of not reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that failing to do so will lead to extreme climate change including rising temperatures around the globe. Greenhouse gases are not the only way that traditional black asphalt contributes to rising temperatures. The dark black asphalt absorbs massive amounts of solar energy and later radiates it back into the atmosphere. The current goal is to target areas that suffer from extreme heat that would benefit most from such solutions and gauge the impact of such projects.

Drawbacks

The Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab extensively studied the entire life cycle of various street materials including conventional asphalt, concrete and reflective coatings. They found that the energy and emissions used in creating alternatives often outweighed the expected benefits. Partnering with UC Pavement Research Center, thinkstep Inc. and the University of Southern California, Berkeley looked at the different methods over a span of 50 years. The groups looked at the entire life cycle of materials including the manufacturing, installation, usage and disposal. They found that producing and maintaining reflective coating requires more than six times the energy needed for traditional rock and asphalt coating. Another study, conducted by Melvin Pomerantz in Berkeley, found that California’s cities could save 60 cents a year at most and avoid only about one cent per year of carbon dioxide emissions.

Facility Management

There are several benefits that cooler alternatives can offer for facility management. The EPA argues that such technologies reduce storm water runoff, lower tire noise, enhance safety, improve local comfort and increase nighttime visibility. As managers, these considerations are important for the overall productivity of your team. Noise pollution is one of the biggest problems in most offices. Permeable alternative roads, according to the EPA, can reduce tire noise by two to eight decibels. Additionally, the overall lowered air temperature around your office can make your staff more comfortable while simultaneously saving money on running the office A/C unit.

The implementation of such cooler roads in Los Angles will further reveal if such alternatives are worth the investment. While recent research suggests that the environmental harm may outweigh the benefits, the technology is proven to significantly decrease the overall air temperature in cities. This increasingly important aspect may make the technology more adoptable as global temperatures continue rising to extreme levels. If something isn’t done to reduce the concrete jungle effect, then big cities will likely be avoided as the heat becomes intolerable in the coming years. Researchers, scientists and politicians continue working together to come up with innovate and alternative solutions to the climate crisis.

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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.

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