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Blog Archives

Restroom Maintenance Technology

Restrooms are a bit of a necessary evil. Virtually no one enjoys using a public restroom, and no one enjoys having to keep them maintained. It's a dirty, expensive, often inefficient job, but someone has to do it. Poorly-maintained restrooms have a negative impact on employee presenteeism, workplace hygiene, and customer satisfaction. Fortunately, new advances in restroom maintenance technology are helping to make an unpleasant job far more streamlined and efficient.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Maintenance

Technology hasn't advanced to the point where fully automated restroom maintenance is a feasible option for facility managers -- maintenance staff are an invaluable part of keeping restrooms hygienic, working, and well-stocked. Unfortunately, these staff members are often overworked and under-informed, forced to rely on manual checks to tell them when something needs to be cleaned, refilled, or repaired. The average maintenance worker also can't readily supply information on things like traffic patterns, and ordering cleaning supplies can be a matter of guesswork for the purchasing department. Utilizing facility management software and sensors is an easy way to simplify restroom maintenance by providing information that unconnected restrooms can't.

Monitoring Hygiene Compliance

Only about two thirds of Americans regularly wash their hands, and roughly 70% admit to not using soap when they do. Even if you aren't managing a hospital, this is a pretty disturbing statistic. Food service facilities and even office buildings all require a hygienic environment in order to operate effectively. Doorknobs, keyboards, and telephones are all breeding grounds for pathogens from contact with unwashed hands, and frequently vectors for illness. Monitoring hygiene compliance can help facility managers ensure that employees are following the proper hand washing protocol, reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses and, in turn, reducing lost productivity due to absenteeism.

Analyzing Traffic Flow

Some restrooms just see more use than others. This can be due to a lot of factors, including scheduling, location, and even general atmosphere. The trouble is, the places that see the most use aren't necessarily the ones that receive the most attention. Few things will turn people away faster than a grimy, smelly restroom. This can negatively impact employee productivity as they seek out a cleaner one, and create a poor impression of the company for customers and visitors. Knowing which restrooms see the most use makes it much easier for facility managers to prioritize maintenance tasks, ensuring that the busiest places are cleaned and restocked as often as they require. It's also helpful as part of an analysis of a facility's overall traffic, which can help guide other maintenance decisions.

Saving Time and Money

Checking soap and toilet tissue dispensers manually is a tedious process that's often easy for a rushed maintenance worker to overlook. Unfortunately, empty dispensers have a negative impact on employee hygiene, restroom use, and the overall impression of a facility. Monitoring technology allows maintenance workers to skip manual dispenser checks entirely -- automated sensors can tell them exactly what needs to be filled, where, and when. This saves them time and energy, reduces waste, and keeps restrooms running efficiently. In turn, it provides data that facility managers can use to help determine the allocation of their maintenance staff and respond to maintenance issues before they are formally logged (or even noticed) by employees or customers.

Dirty floors, foul odors, and a lack of toilet tissue, soap, and paper towels used to be a standard part of using a facility's restroom -- sometimes to the point where employees or customers would refrain until they could go home. Modern restroom maintenance technology helps improve the experience for both restroom visitors and maintenance staff, allowing restrooms to be cleaned, restocked, and kept in good repair with far greater efficiency. The end result is a healthier workplace, happier customers, more productive employees, and maintenance workers that are able to respond to problems as soon as they arise.

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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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Staying Competitive in the Facility Management Sector

Smart facilities management is crucial when it comes to inhabiting work spaces and recruiting and maintaining talent. It has the ability to drive employee performance and increase productivity as well as maintain a company's competitive edge in the market.

Because of its importance, facilities management must evolve and change with the pace of the global marketplace today. These strategies could allow for your own building to stay competitive in the facilities management sector.

Value Creation

Until recently, one of the primary focuses of facilities management involved keeping costs as low as possible. You may have looked for every way to shave a few dollars off your building's operating costs. You aimed to reduce expenses while getting the most return for every dollar you did spend.

As facilities management strategies evolve, saving money will still be important. However, the main focus will shift to finding ways to create value with work space inhabitants and stakeholders.

You will need to adopt progressive technologies that will permit for increased mobility and provide for better conditions for training your employees. It also will allow for a healthier workplace environment that will increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, and minimize the level of stress.

Sustainable Energy Management

Another strategy that will come into play with tomorrow's facilities management involves increasing the sustainability of your building across all activities and platforms. You will need to rethink your building's existing assets and create a framework for it that is sustainable.

This could involve making life-cycle assessments and undertaking a new approach to life-cycle building management. It could also involve training employees themselves to maintain a sustainable workplace.

Regardless, your primary focus should involve finding cost-effective, sustainable ways to reduce energy levels, waste, and your building's overall carbon footprint. These methods will carry over to your main role of transforming energy management in your building, recycling, water management, safety, health, and other key aspects of effective facilities management.

Space Optimization

When it comes to reducing costs in your building, you could achieve your goal by optimizing the way that its spaces are used. To improve the use of space in your building, you can create flexible workstations for employees.

You also can redistribute workplace strategies and utilize mobile work spaces and mobile workers as a part of your approach to facilities management. Your focus should revolve around using less space with better space propositions.

The Best Use of Technology

Making the best use of technology is important to facilities management for several reasons. To start, it can impact the manner in which your building's employees perform their everyday jobs. It can also allow for the creation of different work spaces like assigned or shared workstations, virtual work spaces, home offices, or flexible offices.

Technology can also enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of work spaces and workplaces. You can take all of the available technology to support your building's employees while responding and proactively using it to leverage optimization in the workplace.

Personalized Delivery Service

Finally, competitive facilities management of tomorrow should focus on the creation of personalized service deliveries. Personalized service deliveries allow for supporting new ways of working and the creation of a fit-for-purpose approach to facilities management. It allows each company to be unique in this regard.

In fact, when workplace strategies among companies differ from each other, they permit customers to make demands for their individual specific and exact needs. Personalized delivery services go beyond the management of assets and systems.

In the near future, clients will require service providers to understand their businesses. You can thus train front-line service employees to deliver on that client understanding.

The future of facilities management will shift the focus from practices to which you are currently accustomed to strategies that will further enhance productivity, performance, and profit. It will require you to make the best use of modern technology while personalizing services demanded by your clients.

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Effective Management Tips for Property Managers

As a property manager, you are tasked with overseeing multitudes of projects every day. The property owners as well as the tenants on the property look to you to ensure these tasks get done on time and without fail. You can exceed their expectations and be a successful manager by using these tips for effective property management.

Be a People Person

Managing a rental property cannot be done effectively from behind a desk or while working in an office. In this career, you have to be a people person and ready to interact with a wide variety of people on a daily basis.

The people you can expect to encounter at any time in this job include the property's owners as well as maintenance staff and contractors like landscapers or roofers. You also will interact with people who live in the rental units and also prospective tenants who wish to apply for residency there.

To be a successful property manager, you must adopt friendly if not firm and professional behaviors when interacting with people on a daily basis. Being ready to greet and speak with a variety of individuals each day works in your favor when you are determined to be the best manager for the property.

Use the Latest Technology

Some aspects of your job will require you to use written communications like work orders or notices to enter rental units. However, the bulk of your work can be done effectively and quickly when you use the latest technology.

Property managers like you should feel completely at ease communicating with tenants, owners, maintenance staff, and others by text and email. You should also keep important documents stored and backed up on computer programs or even more ideally in secure cloud storage.

This technology not only safeguards important communications and paperwork. It also makes your job as a property manager easier.

Hire and Retain an Effective Team

Your job as a property manager will also be easier and more effective when you hire and retain a skilled team to work alongside with you. You may need to hire an office manager to answer phones and greet people who come into the office. You also may want to hire an assistant property manager who can help you with your daily projects and also act in your place when you take a day off or are busy handling other tasks.

Others that you might want to include in your team are skilled maintenance staff who can repair and maintain the rental units. You likewise will probably be tasked with choosing what contractors like landscapers, roofers, and plumbers with which to partner to manage the upkeep of the property itself.

An effective team will allow you to focus on the more important tasks assigned to you as the property manager. It also will improve the integrity and appearance of the property of which you are in charge.

Know the Current Housing Laws

It is imperative that you are knowledgeable in the current housing laws in your state. Housing and tenant laws vary from state to state. What is standard in one state could be entirely illegal where you live.

You can read up on tenant and housing laws by searching the Internet. You can also take courses offered by organizations like HUD to learn what laws to use and abide by while managing your property.

Carefully Screen Tenants

Perhaps the most important obligation you have as a property manager involves screening potential tenants carefully. You have a duty to the property's owner to vet and approve tenants who will pay their rent on time and also take care of their rental units.

You likewise have an obligation to the tenants who already live there. You do not want to approve the application of someone who may be a danger to the residents or at minimum be a nuisance with which they will have to deal on a daily basis. By carefully screening applicants, you can approve people who will be an asset to the community.

By following these guidelines, you could become the most effective manager for a rental property. You will satisfy the expectations of the person or people who own the property and also be a manager that your tenants can appreciate and feel comfortable approaching on a daily basis.

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Outdoor Workers and Heat Safety

Outdoor Workers and Heat Safety

As a facilities manager, you bear the all-important responsibility of keeping your staff safe in all kinds of weather. During the hottest months of summer, this burden can take on a unique challenge, however. You can ensure your workers' health by knowing what heat safety precautions to utilize during this time of the year.

Learn about the Dangers of Hot Weather

As the summer months get underway, the hot weather poses a serious hazard to people working outdoors. Statistics show that dozens of outdoor workers die each year because of heat stroke. Thousands more are sickened and hospitalized as the result of heat exhaustion.

Further, every industry can be affected by heat dangers but especially those like construction. In fact, 40 percent of outdoor workers who die from heat stroke work in this industry.

Regardless, heat stroke can affect anyone of any age even those who are young and seemingly in good physical condition. As a facilities manager, it is critical that you appreciate the dangers that come with working in hot weather. You should never assume that your employees are safe from heat stroke or heat exhaustion simply because they are healthy, young, and in good physical shape.

Plan Ahead

Once you realize the dangers of working in hot weather, you must then devise a plan ahead of time in case one of your workers does suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Your plan should include calling 911 and using cold compresses on the affected individual until help arrives. You should practice this plan often with your employees so everyone knows what to do if or when this type of emergency occurs.

Your plan should also include an element of prevention, however. You should educate your workers on how to work safely in hot weather and help them understand the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. By educating your staff, you can prevent this type of emergency and ensure everyone's safety while the weather is hot and humid.

Offer Plenty of Water

One of the most important things you can do as a facilities manager is making available cool, fresh, and pure water to your outdoor workers. You should place the container of water in a shaded or cool location so that it stays refreshing and cold for your staff. It should also be made available at no charge to them.

Likewise, you should encourage your staff to drink at least one quart of water on an hourly basis while they are outside. This precaution will keep them hydrated and could prevent them from suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Offer Shaded Resting Areas

You should also make sure there is at least one shaded place where your workers can go to rest while they work outdoors. Even if you have to set up a tent, you need to make sure your staff has a shaded area where they can go to cool off and recuperate from working outside in extreme heat.

You should make sure that they rest for at least five minutes on a regular basis anytime the temperature reaches higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important that you encourage them to rest before they start to feel sick or exhausted from the heat.

Use a Heat Safety Mobile App

Finally, you can keep your workers safe by downloading and using a NIOSH or OSHA heat safety mobile app. The app is available on both Android and Apple devices. It is designed specifically for outdoor workers who are exposed to heat while on-the-job.

The app also offers live-saving information for facilities managers, supervisors, and others in charge of outdoor workers. It alerts you to the precautions you should take to make sure everyone stays safe on the job site. The app is free to download and can be a valuable resource when you want to protect your employees from the dangers of working outdoors in the heat.

Working in heat and humidity can pose a serious risk to your employees' health. It is up to you as their facilities manager to keep them safe from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You can prevent serious illness and deaths related to working in the heat by utilizing common sense heat safety precautions.

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From Smart Buildings Come Smart Cities

The advent of smart buildings continues to transform the modern workplace. As artificial intelligence, automation, and other technological innovations take the place of old and outdated systems, facilities managers now find it simpler and more convenient to manage the buildings they are tasked with overseeing.

From the rise of smart buildings, however, comes the creation of smart cities. Smart cities show all the promise and potential of changing the manner in which people will live their everyday lives. They also could solve many of the dilemmas that arise from a booming global population.

What are Smart Cities?

The concept of smart cities comes directly from the creation and use of smart buildings today. Like a smart building, a smart building will incorporate technological inventions like automation, artificial intelligence, and other aspects of the Internet of Things. The networking of a smart city's technology will allow it to serve its residents and make everyday life within the city safer, more convenient, and more comfortable.

Specifically, a smart city will rely on this network to monitor, control, and adapt to many facets of everyday life. It will be able to predict and accommodate the weather, daylight or darkness, occupancy patterns, and more in order to make the city's environment as positive as possible for residents. This technology will make jobs like facilities management easier because it will effectively be able to control the internal temperature of buildings, adapt and control lighting within individual neighborhoods, and even collect data of buildings' occupancy rates to enhance public safety.

The Role of Smart Cities

What role will smart cities play in tomorrow's world? To start, they will address a number of global environmental concerns that are expected to arise including an aging population, the expansion of the middle class, and more people moving to urban areas throughout the world. Smart cities are being designed to be able to monitor, control, and protect precious resources like food, water, housing, transportation, and even open spaces within communities.

This monitoring and protection of resources will maintain and progressively improve the standard of living for everyone in the city. It also will effectively encourage social interactions among people, which should eliminate what is dubbed as the loneliness of convenience that is found with modern society today. Smart cities will promote the ideal use of public spaces to foster connections among residents and as a result make it a better place to live.

But how will a smart city be able to accomplish this goal? Smart city designers and planners say that it will be able to collect civic data by monitoring the human experience and applying meaning to that data. It will then use the data to determine how the environment of the city should be built or changed.

Ideally, because of the collection and application of civic data to the environment, people who live in the smart city should be able to anticipate the behavior of fellow citizens and react in an appropriate manner. As a result, planners envision smart cities having a 20 percent reduction in crime. In fact, public safety will be promoted through the use of CCTV, visitor management, and access control. These facets will add layers of protection to buildings and individual sites within the city.

Smart Cities in Development

The existence of smart cities could soon be a reality for many parts of the world. In fact, several such cities are already in the works. In Toronto, Sidewalk Labs is creating a smart neighborhood that when finished will combine smart technology and urban design. Specifically, the buildings in this neighborhood are being designed to react to the weather.

Likewise, in Belmont Arizona, Bill Gates is investing millions of dollars for the creation of autonomous vehicles. This smart city is being designed to become a sophisticated hub with public WiFi areas, drone deliveries, and demand management of resources like electricity.

Smart cities could soon change the way that people live their everyday lives. The technology expected to be available in these cities will make life safer, comfortable, and more convenient for people of all ages. They also will address and manage environmental concerns expected to come with a growing worldwide population and a limited amount of resources like food and water.

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Smart Buildings and Facility Management

The Internet of Things has transcended most boundaries in society and now makes its presence known in countless industries. Among them, architecture and building construction in particular benefit from this newest technology.

Smart buildings are becoming more commonplace around the world as facilities managers discover the many perks that come with this innovation. Discover what a smart building is and in what ways it can make your job as a building manager easier and most cost effective.

What is a Smart Building?

A smart building, also called an intelligent building, is a building that features a plethora of smart systems and automation. A smart building itself is part of the Internet of Things and in particular functions to collect and analyze data that once had to be gathered and recorded by hand.

Buildings with smart automation technology typically will feature a network of sensors attached to equipment like furnaces, ventilation systems, light fixtures, hot water heaters, and other appliances throughout the premises. The sensors collect and analyze data about the functions and performances of these fixtures automatically so the building team can focus on other tasks.

Further, the data gathered and analyzed by the sensors allow the building manager to schedule maintenance tasks based on the actual usage of the fixtures rather than time-based intervals. These devices allow building managers to know exactly where their building's assets are located so they can gather credible data and information about them and then determine what if anything needs to be done to repair or enhance their performance.

A smart building also allows the building team to be reactive in maintaining the premises rather than spending time responding to emergencies like broken appliances or faulty lighting. They no longer have to predict if or when a facilities crisis might occur. They can be alerted immediately whenever a fixture is broken and react quickly to repair it in a prompt manner. This immediate notification can result in operational cost deductions of at least two to three percent.

Controlling Internal Operations

Another perk found with operating a smart building involves being able to control its internal operations better. The devices attached to fixtures like air conditioners and furnaces alert building managers to functions like room or building temperature, vibration of equipment like HVAC systems, air flow in and out of the building, the amount of electricity being used on a daily basis, noise level, and revolutions per minute of certain types of fixtures.

In this way, the building manager can be alerted whenever any fixture with a device attached to it breaks down and stops working properly. Once notified, the facilities team can take immediate action to get it repaired or replaced as necessary.

Streamlined Facilities Management

Perhaps the biggest advantage that comes with managing a smart building involves being in charge of streamlined processes. Before this technology was invented, you may have had to manually take note of and record operations within the building. This task may have taken hours of your time and made it impossible for you to handle other important tasks on a daily basis.

With smart building technology, you no longer have to rely on manual processes but instead can rely on the sensors to automatically record the functions the equipment within the building of which in you are in charge. Any malfunctions can be reported and addressed before the building's personnel reports them to you or perhaps even notices them.

Likewise, as a facilities manager, you avoid the huge cost of having to repair and replace faulty equipment as often as before because you can be notified immediately whenever a malfunction is about to happen. This prompt alert saves you and your company money and lowers the overhead costs that otherwise could take away from your profits.

As a facilities manager, it is up to you to know if or when a fixture like an HVAC system or furnace needs to be repaired or replaced. You no longer have to rely on manual observations and recording to do your job. You can be notified immediately about impending malfunctions when you are in charge of a smart building.

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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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Maintaining Strong Partnerships with Contractors

The efficient management of your facility sometimes calls for you to outsource critical tasks to third-party contractors. The connections you establish with these contractors are vital to the overall management of the building and the success of the company as a whole. You can maintain strong partnerships with contractors that you outsource to by keeping these important strategies in mind.

Define Your Objectives

Before you formally set up the partnership with the outside contractor, you should clearly define your objectives and explain the responsibilities you would like the contractor to assume on your behalf. Many contracting businesses offer an array of services. However, the one with which you partner cannot guess what kinds of services you need or what exactly you expect out of it.

You should explain in detail what you are needing and what you expect from the contractor. You should also formalize the partnership in writing so you can refer to the contract if or when needed in the future.

Be Flexible

It is also important that you be flexible about your expectations for the contractor. The responsibilities that you expect the business to take on now may change at some point in the future.

The business may also alter or eliminate some services, which means you may have to adapt the contract you have with it. Being flexible with the contractor and demonstrating a willingness to revise the contract as needed based on your needs or the business's capabilities could allow you to maintain a healthy partnership with it.

Appreciate the Importance of Commitment

When you set up a partnership with an outside contractor, you need to be ready to commit to this arrangement for as long as necessary for you to achieve your goals. Whether the partnership will last for a few months or a few years, you must commit yourself to the contract and be ready to uphold your end of the bargain.

At the same time, you have every right to expect that same level of commitment to you and your facilities management goals. You should pursue this promise of service and attention from every level of the business from which you contract from the top management to the workers who will be performing important tasks in your building.

Avoid Micromanaging

Once you gain the commitment you are seeking from the contracting company, you must then take a step back and allow the contractor to carry out the duties that you have assigned to it. You might be tempted to micromanage the projects and to give your proverbial two cents' worth of input.

However, a healthy partnership with a contractor means entrusting it to perform the responsibilities you expect from it. If you try to butt in and micromanage the undertakings, you could jeopardize the contract and find yourself without a third-party business to oversee critical tasks for you.

Communicate Clearly and Frequently

While you should not micromanage the third-party projects, you should keep the lines of communication between you and the contractor open. You need to maintain contact with the business so you can express any concerns or questions you have. You also can gain helpful insight about what the contractor is doing and the timeline for the projects that are in the works.

A healthy partnership is one that welcomes two-way communication between the facilities manager and the third-party contractor. You can get a good return on your investment in the contract and stay on top of tasks that you have entrusted to another party by showing a willingness to communicate openly and frequently with that contractor.

As a facilities manager, you may have more projects to handle than you can realistically carry out in a single day or week. Instead of hiring more employees, you could have them resolved efficiently and professionally by outsourcing them to third-party contractors. You can form important partnerships that will make managing your building easier.

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