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Is Switching to LED Worth It?

As a facility manager, you bear the unique task of maintaining your building's efficiency without compromising the company's cash flow. To accomplish this important obligation, you might wonder if it would be worth your while to switch from fluorescent or CFL light bulbs to LED lighting. You may be convinced by learning what advantages LED lighting can offer to your building and to you as the facility manager.

Cost Effectiveness

One of the primary benefits that comes with LED lighting is cost effectiveness. In fact, LED light bulbs are 85 percent more cost effective than CFL light bulbs.

They also burn more efficiently, lowering the cost of this type of lighting in the building and burning fewer watts per hour. In turn, you should see these savings add up relatively quickly, which may convince you that you have made a good decision in switching from CFL or fluorescent lighting to LED lights.

Easy Maintenance

Another key benefit that comes with LED lights is the ease of maintaining them. Unlike CFL or fluorescent lights, LED lights are relatively simple to change out and install.

Further, you should not have to change them out as often as CFL or fluorescent lights because LED light bulbs last for weeks longer. This fact alone makes them a wise investment if you are managing the building on a tight budget and do not have a lot of cash to spare for continuously buying and changing out light bulbs.

Improved Visual Appeal

As a facility manager, you also have the obligation of making sure the areas in the building are well-lit and visually appealing. CFL and fluorescent bulbs give out harsh glares and hot light. They may hurt the eyes of the people who come in and out of the building. Further, they may not provide the best lighting by which to read or work.

LED lights, however, are softer and more visually appealing than CFL and fluorescent bulbs. They improve the overall atmosphere in the building and provide sufficient lighting for people to read, work, and otherwise remain productive throughout the day.

When you want to provide spaces that are engaging and appealing for not only the people who work there but also the people who will visit the building each day, you may find that LED lighting is your best option. It can add to the aesthetics of the building without increasing utility costs.

Temperature Tolerance

Unlike fluorescent and CFL lights, LED light bulbs tolerate extreme temperatures without burning out or breaking. You can burn these lights in the hottest days of summer without fear of them fizzling out of cracking. They will burn efficiently without raising the costs of your summer utilities.

LED lights also burn well during the coldest days of winter and can tolerate sub-zero temperatures without freezing or burning out. Unlike CFL or fluorescent bulbs, which can malfunction during the extreme cold, LED lights continue to provide continuous and reliable lighting. This benefit can give you the peace of mind you need as a building manager during challenging weather.

Utility Rebates

As a facility manager, you also may be tasked with taking advantage of savings and rebates whenever they are made available to you. Depending on the state in which your building is located as well as its utility provider, you could be offered rebates and savings for making the switch from fluorescent or CFL lighting to LED bulbs.

The rebates would be applied to your building's utility bills or applied as discounts for utility services. You could save your company a substantial amount of money on its electricity costs.

Low Disposal Costs

Savings will also be made available to you when it comes to disposing of LED light bulbs. Unlike CFL or fluorescent bulbs, LED light bulbs are low in cost to dispose of properly. They can also be recycled and reused, which saves your company money and allows it to remain ecologically friendly to the environment.

CFL and fluorescent bulbs are costly to get rid of because many facilities charge additional hazmat fees on top of disposal costs. When you want to save on these expenses, you can switch to LED lighting.

LED bulbs have proven to be more cost effective and a smarter choice for building managers. They burn better at a lower cost. They also are recyclable and do not take as significant a toll on the environment as their CFL and fluorescent counterparts. They offer unique advantages not found with other styles of lighting today.

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Conserving Water on Your Property

Whether you want to protect the value of your property or lower your operating costs, water conservation makes sound financial sense. With rates on the rise and the risks of shortages increasing, ensuring that you use water efficiently is good for your bottom line. Installing water-smart fixtures like low-flow toilets is a fine place to start, but if you really want to make an impact, look outside. Outdoor water use can account for as much as 30 percent of your facility's water bill. The following landscaping tips can save you money and make it easier to care for your property too.

Schedule a Water Audit

When it comes to water used for landscaping, making sure that your irrigation system operates properly is priority one. Even a small problem with the pipes, fittings or controllers can impact your budget. A leak as small as 1/32 of an inch can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water every month. An irrigation professional certified in water efficiency can perform a system audit that will identify any issues with water waste. At the end of the evaluation, you'll receive a detailed report that includes improvements you can make to reduce water usage.

Maintenance Matters

Whether you hire a professional to do the job or take on the work yourself, it's important to check irrigation systems on a regular basis. Ensure that the sprinkler heads stand straight and that they aren't covered by grass or debris. Turn the system on and watch where the water flows. Make sure the water you're paying for isn't washed away on sidewalks and driveways. Sprinklers that spurt water out in a fine mist indicate that water pressure is too high. Pay special attention to pooled water and soggy soil, which can mean there's a leak in the system.

Timing Is Everything

Extensive watering costs money, and it's bad for the landscape too. Too much water results in weak growth that makes plants susceptible to insects and diseases. Set your system to water only when plants need it, and then make sure that the ground is saturated to promote strong root growth. Morning is the optimal time for watering because there is less loss through evaporation. A layer of mulch around plantings helps retain water. Watering schedules should be altered every season to account for changes in weather, plants and soil conditions.

Re-Think the Lawn

Turf not only requires more upkeep than other types of plants but more water as well. You can cut your water bills significantly by planting native plants and grasses. Once established, plants native to your area can typically survive on normal rainfall, offering opportunities to reduce your watering costs substantially. Hardscaping elements like mulch, gravel and rocks offer alternatives to lawns too. Keep turf in the areas where it has practical purposes like recreation areas and choose hardy grasses that can withstand periods of drought.

Use Smarter Technology

If your current irrigation system is hopelessly inefficient, it pays to invest in a new, modern system. From sensors that shut the system down when it rains to Wi-Fi controllers you can access on the internet, today's irrigation products can save you water, time and money. Drip irrigation systems are worth investigating too. By delivering water slowly and evenly, they eliminate water loss due to runoff and evaporation. The savings offered by these systems is substantial. Drip irrigation uses up to 50 percent less water than traditional sprinkler systems.

From grouping plants according to their watering needs to augmenting soils to better retain water, water-wise landscaping is both a science and an art. For optimal savings, many property owners and facility managers look to landscape professionals for help with water conservation. A contractor certified in water efficiency can design, install and maintain an irrigation system that will lower your water bill while adding visual appeal to your property. By demonstrating your leadership in water conservation, the results can elevate your reputation and company profile as well.

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Solar Energy and Your Facility

More than ever, it's important for facilities to consider a switch to sustainable energy sources. Solar power is one of the bog standards when it comes to renewable energy, but may not always be easy to pitch. Even though it has been around for awhile, solar energy has only really become a viable resource for commercial enterprises relatively recently. Still, it may be worth making the change to solar for a variety of reasons.

Cost

One of the main downsides to solar used to be its relatively high cost compared to other energy sources. As photovoltaic technology has improved, that cost has fallen dramatically. The cost of solar power per kilowatt hour is now equal to -- or sometimes even less -- than other sources of energy.

Solar power does require an initial investment for solar panels and batteries, which may be significant. However, once set up, solar systems require very little maintenance. In some areas, it may even be possible to sell excess power produced by the solar panels to local power companies. Depending on a facility's power consumption, solar power can pay for itself relatively quickly.

Tax Incentives

Though solar power requires a relatively high initial investment, there may be tax incentives available to help subsidize their setup. Financing options can help further ease the financial burden. As of 2016, commercial solar energy projects were eligible for a renewable energy tax credit of 30% of the total project costs. State and local governments may also offer their own tax incentives to encourage companies to switch to renewable energy.

Sustainability

Traditional sources of energy, like coal power, produce significant carbon emissions. Solar panels can help a facility dramatically reduce their carbon footprint and limit the amount of hazardous environmental waste produced by its operations. Since more and more consumers are choosing environmentally sustainable products and services, relying on solar power can even become a selling point for a facility. Creating photovoltaic panels still involves some carbon emissions and waste, but, once installed, their low maintenance needs and lack of emissions help offset this.

Self-sufficiency

High energy demands can cause brownouts in traditional power systems, particularly during the summer months. High winds, storms, or accidents can also result in damage to the power grid, triggering blackouts that may last for days. Having a robust solar system allows a facility to continue operating despite interruptions to regular electrical service, which helps cut costs and reduce lost operating time in the long run. When coupled with their low maintenance needs, this makes solar panels a great option for facilities that don't want to have to worry about the integrity of their local power grid.

Flexibility

The price and availability of traditional power depends on a number of things, including local energy sources and infrastructure. Power plants that depend on coal, for example, require a means of transporting and storing it. Other energy sources, like hydroelectric or nuclear power, may not be available at all. Solar power is readily available in most areas of the world, and can be set up anywhere where there is flat, open, unused space, including roofs or empty lots.

Advances in transparent photovoltaic cells mean that it may even be possible for facilities to set up vertically-oriented solar panels set in windows. In cases where on-site solar setups aren't feasible, it's also possible to establish a remote solar farm to transfer power to a facility.

In spite of their sustainability and self-sufficiency, solar panels used to have a bad rap for their high cost, inefficiency, and high space requirements. Advances in solar technology have ensured that this is no longer the case -- solar power is affordable, low-maintenance, highly subsidized, and can be placed virtually anywhere that receives regular sunlight. This makes it an excellent choice for businesses that want to lower their impact on the environment, limit their energy demands, and reduce their overhead.

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Sustainable Facility Management

In the modern age of information, society has come to terms with humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. A large majority of scientific experts and lawmakers argue that policies need to be implemented to reduce this man-made ecological impact. A growing number of consumers agree, and they have made the conscious decision to make more responsible choices about the companies they give money to.

Facility managers have always needed to remain compliant with the laws and societal standards, and it appears that sustainability policies are quickly becoming a new societal demand from companies. Adopting these business practices gives your business a competitive advantage over other businesses, but it does come at a cost.

What is Sustainability?

Broadly defined, sustainability means utilizing our resources in a way that both meets present needs and focuses on long-term stability. The Brundtland Commission explains that refraining from “compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” is paramount to sustainability.

In a world where humanity’s life-support resources are declining and the demand for these resources is increasing, sustainability seeks to more responsibly utilize these valuable resources to maintain an ecological balance. Forum for the Future lays out five of the key aspects of sustainability including care for the environment, respect for ecological constraints, equity, partnership and quality of life. In summary, sustainability is an attempt to protect the environment while simultaneously driving innovation, improving human health and maintaining our way of life.

What is Sustainable Facility Management?

Sustainable facility management describes the method of managing your company’s business, resources, people and infrastructure in such a way that it optimizes the long-term environmental, economic and social stability. Facility managers influence sustainability when making decisions about environmental management, during building construction and when conducting maintenance.

Some sustainable business practices include tracking your energy use, assessing water consumption, prioritizing energy improvement, managing your carbon footprint and reducing your facility’s baseline energy use. As a facility manager, you’ll need to understand any relevant policy regulations or governmental energy efficiency goals. As governments on the state and federal level make policy changes in favor of sustainable business practices, your business will need to remain compliant.

Advantages

The most important benefit of maintaining sustainable business practices is improving the overall quality of life for all citizens. Many organizations choose to focus on sustainability as both a goal and mission, and the practice is often embraced as part of the company’s brand. Consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious and Eco-friendly.

Consumers are making more responsible decisions about the products they purchase, so including sustainability as an integral part of your business will have a positive impact on the public perception of your company and boost profits.

Another advantage of sustainability is that companies are at a competitive advantage and may even receive government benefits due to their environmental policies and practices. Ideally, enhancing your company’s productivity, profits, safety standards, health and efficiency are always top-priority goals. Enforcing sustainable goals as a part of facility management will be beneficial in various areas of your business.

Disadvantages

While all the advantages of sustainable facility management practices sound unbeatable, they do come at a cost, and that cost is relatively high. The most commonly reported challenge faced by facility managers when it comes to sustainability is the high expectation of energy and water costs and a lack of available funding.

Eco-friendly building materials, supplies and products are typically more expensive, and the cost reduction in energy savings usually isn’t enough to quickly offset the upfront expenses. 

In the study of ecology, sustainability is defined at the ability of biological systems to say diverse and survive indefinitely. Facility managers that adopt sustainable business practices gain a competitive advantage, boost their public perception and help protect the environment for future generations. While these practices do come at a cost, they are typically seen as the responsible choice for today’s businesses.

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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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