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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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Rubber Flooring: Pros and Cons

Rubber Flooring

When it comes to selecting the best flooring for your facility, you want something that will give you a good return on your investment and last for a long time. At the same time, you want a material that is visually appealing and easy to maintain.

You could find the ideal solution for your building by choosing rubber with which to cover your floors. You may be further convinced by learning about the benefits of rubber floors.

Popularity

You would not be alone in your admiration for rubber flooring. In fact, it is becoming more commonplace in all sorts of buildings. While it is typically used in settings like gymnasiums, fieldhouses, and weight rooms, it also is being used more in commercial and residential settings.

It is true that rubber tends to be a bit higher priced than conventional choices like tile or vinyl. However, it also lasts longer and gives a better return on the initial investment than other types of materials. You may not have to repair or replace it as often or as quickly than if you had chosen vinyl, carpeting, or other materials.

Durability

Rubber is also extremely durable. When you are in the market for a material that will be an overall asset to your building, you could find that rubber exceeds your expectations of durability alone.

It can tolerate a high amount of foot traffic without succumbing to damages like cracks and breaks. It also is water resistant and simple to clean up if you spill something like water or coffee on it.

Because of its natural elasticity, it maintains its original appearance. It also has natural shock absorber qualities and can provide more cushion for your feet, which can be crucial if you spend most of the day standing and walking. Its ability to absorb shock and weight also allows it to withstand heavy things being dropped on it.

Low Maintenance

Rubber gets favorable reviews for its low maintenance qualities. When you do not want to spend most of the day mopping and sweeping your facility, rubber may be your ideal choice. It takes minimal effort to keep it looking pristine and new.

Taking care of a rubber floor can be as simple as vacuuming it on a daily basis. You also should mop it with a mild detergent and warm water. You should not use harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia on it because chemicals can cause damages like fading and cracks.

Slip Resistance

If preventing slips and falls is a priority, you may want to invest in a rubber floor. Rubber is especially common in medical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes where patient and employee safety is the main concern.

Rubber exceeds the minimum standard for the coefficient of friction, meaning it prevents people from slipping and falling even when they track in water and mud from outside. Its non-slip qualities also make it ideal for use in places like gyms, weight rooms, and fieldhouses where athletes run and train. It prevents them from falling down and getting injured.

Environmentally Friendly

Rubber also has a reputation for being one of the most eco-friendly flooring choices on the market. Unlike wood and marble, which are not sustainable or renewable materials, rubber is made from the sap of a rubber tree. The sap is gathered in a way that does not harm the tree itself nor impedes its growth.

Once the rubber floor becomes worn out and needs to be replaced, it can be recycled and made into entirely new products. It can also be shredded and used in places like playgrounds. It does not have to be thrown away or end up in a landfill.

Other Benefits

Rubber floors also offer additional benefits that might appeal to you as a facilities manager. For example, it: 

  • Does not contain PVC
  • Can absorb sounds
  • Resists static
  • Resists damages like scuffs marks, cigarette burns, and scratches
  • Prevents the growth of fungi like mold and mildew
  • Resists stains
  • Comes in uniform colors


These factors could make rubber flooring the ideal choice for covering your floors. 

Choosing the right material for your floors is critical to the comfort and safety of your building. You could get the best return on your investment and get the performance you expect by choosing rubber. Rubber offers a host of benefits that could make it the ideal choice for you.

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Ways to Green Your Vending Machines

Ways To Green Your Vending Machines

It's probably pretty difficult to picture an environmentally-friendly vending machine. By their very nature, they vend disposable products and require energy to operate -- in some cases, for 24 hours a day. That doesn't mean that facility managers can't find ways to help lower energy consumption, offering convenience to their customers, reducing their facility's carbon footprint, and helping to save money in the process. There are a couple of ways to go about this: 

1. Look for the Energy Star label.

Appliances that are Energy Star approved either meet or exceed the energy efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Much like consumer household appliances, this designation can be applied to vending machines as well. In fact, vending machines that are Energy Star approved consume up to 40% less energy than their old-fashioned counterparts -- courtesy of more efficient cooling systems and upgraded lighting, among other energy-saving features. 

If the unit in a facility is not Energy Star rated, upgrading it may be as simple as getting in touch with the vendor representative and asking to make the switch. They'll often happily upgrade at no charge. 

2. Shut them down during slow times of the day.

When it comes to energy efficiency for machines vending non-perishable items, plug load control devices can be a dream come true. These devices use sophisticated sensors to drastically lower power needs after fifteen minutes of inactivity by reducing the compressor activity. In this mode, the contents of the machines will incur only slight increases in temperature -- not enough to harm non-perishable items -- while reducing energy consumption by up to 30%. 

3. Change the lighting.

New, green lighting options offer another way to save energy. In older vending machines, lighting can use up to 150-180 watts to continuously keep things lit -- to the tune of an extra $100 per year. Electronic ballasts and newer, energy-efficient lamps can drastically reduce this consumption. 

It should be noted that lighting is pretty much cosmetic, serving only to highlight products and let customers know the machine is on. So, if energy-efficient lighting systems are not an option, it may be possible to simply turn the lights off entirely during nights, weekends, or even full-time in order to drop energy use by up to 35%. (Just make sure to let customers know that the machine is still in service.) 

4. Pick natural refrigerants.

Hydrofluorocarbons are organofluorine compounds known to be potent greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, many older vending machines still use them in their insulation and cooling mechanisms. Now, there are naturally-produced alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons that work just as well, without the risk of additional contributions to climate change. Many vendors are part of the "Refrigerants Naturally!" program, which encourages the use of these natural refrigerants. Facility managers with older vending machines can upgrade by contacting their vendors and requesting newer models, or even converter options for older ones. 

5. Explore "smart" vending options.

Inventors with Coca-Cola Japan have created a means of improving energy efficiency by not only adjusting energy consumption during off hours but also based on season and the load on the power grid. Smart "Peak Shift" vending machines allow facility managers to remotely monitor and change how the machine's power is allocated. They can alter power use from day to night, cooling beverages at night and keeping them cool during the day, and reduce their energy needs during cold winter months. 

For an increasing percentage of the population, being environmentally-friendly is important. The average customer is aware of their impact on the environment, and many of them make an effort to patronize businesses that exercise environmental responsibility. In most states in the U.S., energy use is still tied strongly to carbon emissions. Facilities that make an effort to go green not only help their bottom line by saving money on their power bill, but they can also control their carbon footprint and make a favorable impression on guests.

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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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Preventing Facilities False Alarms: What FMs Need To Know

Preventing Facility False Alarms

Alarm systems are designed to protect commercial properties from all sorts of disasters. From fires to burglaries, the system in your building will alert you to any threat that it detects 24 hours a day.

However, sometimes these systems can sound the alarm when no threat really exists in the building. As a facilities manager, you can minimize facility false alarms by knowing how to install your system properly and what measures to take to ensure it functions correctly around-the-clock.

Why Avoid False Alarms?

You might wonder why you should make every attempt to minimize or eliminate facility false alarms in your building. After all, how much harm can a false alarm really do to commercial property? What is the big deal if your alarm system goes off by accident?

In fact, a facility false alarm can have major ramifications on a business notwithstanding the wracking up of major penalties and fines. Most police and fire departments understand that businesses will have the occasional false alarm. However, they do not appreciate having to respond to continued weekly or sometimes daily false alarms because of faulty systems.

If your building has repeated false alarms, it could be heavily fined by the police and fire departments. As the facilities manager, you will be responsible for explaining these fines to the business owner and why you failed to take immediate action to keep the false alarms to a bare minimum.

Further, repeated false alarms could lead to the shuttering of the building until the alarm system is fixed. The building's insurance company or the state fire inspector could decide that it is too costly and dangerous to keep the building open while it is being guarded by an alarm system that does not work properly.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, repeated false alarms can give the building’s occupants a false sense of security. They may disregard the alarms when they go off instead of evacuating or taking other proactive measures. In the worst case scenario, false alarms could lead to injuries or a loss of life.

Rather than face these scenarios, you can take measures now to keep false alarms to an absolute minimum. These steps are common sense and simple and can save you the headaches that come with dealing with repeated facility false alarms.

Avoiding False Alarms

The first step you can take as a facilities manager to minimize false alarms is to retain the services of a factory trained and licensed alarm company. The company should have a staff of trained, bonded, and licensed technicians on hand who can come to your building to install, maintain, and repair the alarms on a regular basis. 

You also should ensure that the alarms are the newest models and installed in appropriate places throughout your building. For example, you do not want smoke or fire alarms installed too closely to heaters or cooking appliances. These fixtures could trigger the alarms when there really is no threat in the building. 

Likewise, you want carbon monoxide detectors to be installed close to gas fixtures like furnaces and hot water heaters. These alarms should not be installed close to windows where they could catch breezes and not be able to detect the presence of carbon monoxide in the building’s air. 

Another measure you can take as a facilities manager is to train the building’s staff on how to use the alarm system correctly. You can start by showing them how to deactivate the system in the morning when they first open the building. You also should show them how to activate the alarms when they leave for the evening. During the daytime, you should keep the burglary detection system deactivated with the exception of the panic alarms. 

Finally, you should use care when hanging decorations in the building. Decorations can catch the breeze by doors and windows, tripping motion detectors and sounding off the alarms. You should hang decorations in areas that are not monitored by motion sensors if you want to avoid false alarms.

These simple steps can save you from dealing with the expense, embarrassment, and possible tragedy that can come with false alarms. You can keep the building’s occupants safe and save the business owners money. You also ensure that real emergencies like burglaries, carbon monoxide leaks, and fires will be responded to quickly if or when they occur.

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Top Facilites Management Trends for 2019

2019 Facility Management Trends

If you ask the average facilities manager how technology is impacting their field, you're probably going to get a favorable response. In fact, managers surveyed on the subject almost unanimously expressed the opinion that their use of technology is only going to keep growing. New trends in facilities management show that the scope of a manager's responsibility is expanding, and technological innovations are rising to meet these new challenges. Some of these trends include:

1. The internet of things

The internet of things (IoT) is a shorthand term for connected devices that are capable of collecting and sharing data. These devices have IP addresses, just like conventional computers, for connecting to the internet. More and more of these Internet-enabled devices are being developed to help streamline the way that facilities managers track and monitor their assets -- everything from tracking stock, to determining which parts of a given facility get the most use (and require the most attention). Many sectors are already seeing a big boost in efficiency from the IoT, and that trend is likely to continue into 2019.

2. The use of social media feedback

If you think a social media presence is optional for facilities management, think again. More and more companies are seeing the value of staying connected to customers through social media platforms, and facilities managers are no exception. Connecting to customers can offer invaluable feedback when it comes to seeing where you are doing well, and where your service can be improved. Plus, interacting with customers online offers countless opportunities to make an impact far beyond what your services alone can do, and helps you create the impression of integrity, approachability, and transparency.

3. Expanding the concept of retail space

The demand for inexpensive, easy-access medical services is causing more and more walk-in clinics to open in shopping centers. Retailers are seeing the benefit of offering food services in their stores when it comes to drawing in customers. More and more businesses are striving to become centers of their communities, offering their customers experiences beyond shopping. What do these things have in common? They all represent the expanding scope of facilities management. While many managers have experience in maintaining medical facilities, retail spaces, or restaurants, 2019 is going to see a lot more crossover between different sectors. This means needing to comply with additional safety and health regulations and find new ways to effectively manage the expanding needs of these blended facilities.

4. Using the blockchain

The blockchain is good for more than cryptocurrency. It is effectively a way to maintain a continuous ledger, and facilities managers are seeing the value in it when it comes to tracking supply chains, processing work orders, processing and tracking payments, tracking maintenance and management needs, and increasing transparency. Though its use is still in its infancy, expect to see more and more businesses demanding it in 2019.

5. Expanding automation

Facilities management is already a demanding field, and the increasing scope of what it requires means that it takes a superhuman effort to keep things running smoothly. According to a survey of facilities managers across sectors, programs that aid with work orders and ticketing rank as the third most valuable technology tool. Self-handling software can automatically create invoices, schedule field service appointments, direct work orders, and more, dramatically reducing the workload placed on managers and allowing them to focus on the areas that require their attention the most.

6. New approaches to sustainability

Energy efficiency is key. Not only are energy costs a significant part of a facility's budget, but responsible approaches to energy management also create a selling point for sustainability-minded customers. Batteries can help reduce the financial impact of peak demand charges and cut down a facility's carbon footprint at the same time. Chemical and refrigerated battery storage can help maintain battery effectiveness and increase longevity, further reducing energy costs. If 2019's facilities management trends could be summed up in a few words, they would be efficiency, transparency, and sustainability. New software applications can dramatically reduce the tedious, time-consuming work of processing work orders, generating invoices, and manually scheduling service calls, particularly as more retail facilities begin expanding the type of businesses they host. Social media and the blockchain can help increase transparency. Batteries and battery storage can help reduce energy demands, leading to financial and carbon savings. Expect some very exciting innovations in all of these areas as the field of facilities management continues to change and grow.

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Facility Management Challenges During The Holiday Season

Facility Management Challenges During The Holiday Season

The weeks leading up to the holiday season can present a unique challenge to facilities managers. They are tasked with making sure their buildings are ready to welcome the public during one of the busiest times of the year.

They also must assess and minimize potential safety risks inside and outside of buildings. When you anticipate facing such challenges yourself, you can maintain and protect your building with these holiday facilities management tips.

Prevent Stress on Plumbing

With more people coming into the building, it makes sense that the plumbing inside of the bathroom, kitchens, and elsewhere will be used more often. Everything from increased flushing of the toilets to running the faucets can put a strain on plumbing that is not used to this level of usage.

You can head off a plumbing disaster now by inspecting and repairing any known plumbing issues in the building. Repair leaky faucets and pipes, replace faulty toilets and inspect the plumbing for clogs now so it is more than ready to accommodate the influx of people coming into the building during the upcoming holiday rush.

Remove Snow and Ice

As a facilities manager, it is up to you to make sure the walkways and stairs going in and out of the building are clear of snow and ice. Leaving either on the paths leading in and out of the place ups the liability risk for both you and the building’s owner. For safety’s sake, you must be ready to shovel or blow away snow and melt ice as quickly as these elements fall.

You can prepare for this facility management holidays challenge now by having the needed supplies on hand. Everything from a snow blower and shovels to ice melt and rock salt will help you take care of this important task. You also show the public that they can easily and safely get in and out of the building without the risk of slipping and falling.

Plan for Heating Challenges

With more people going in and out of the building during the holiday season, you may find that your building is not able to maintain a steady temperature throughout the day. Cold air blowing through the doorways as people come in and out will make the front hallways and foyer colder than normal. On the other hand, the crush of people crowding into rooms can cause the temperatures in there to rise higher than the set thermostat.

It will be up to you to figure out how to maintain a steady and comfortable temperature in all parts of the building. This could mean adjusting thermostats individually to match the needs in separate hallways and rooms. It could also mean that you simply have to adjust the main thermostat in the central heater or furnace as each day progresses in order to keep people comfortable.

Adjust Maintenance and Cleaning Schedules

Many buildings during the holiday season open earlier and close later to accommodate the rush of customers. These extended hours can put a damper on the schedule you and your crew are accustomed to for cleaning and maintaining the building.

For the few weeks of the holidays, you will need to adjust the schedule and decide during what times of the day or night you want to clean and maintain the premises. Perhaps this will call for you and your workers to come in early to prepare the building for the day.

It might also mean staying late after the building closes to clean up. Regardless, adjusting your cleaning and maintenance schedule could be one of the biggest facility management holidays challenges you face.

Facilities managers acknowledge that the holidays present unique challenges to them and their buildings. You can minimize safety risks and keep people happy by knowing what strategies to utilize as the holidays progress. These tips allow you to keep your building open and accessible while accommodating a greater number of people who visit it during the holiday season.

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Cleaning Procedures for Green Buildings

Cleaning products like ammonia and bleach are effective in killing germs and getting rid of dirt and dust. However, they also can pose a serious risk to people's health. Rather than jeopardize the integrity and wellness of your building, you can protect the health of people inside of it while disinfecting and keeping the premises sanitary by utilizing green cleaning procedures.

What is Green Cleaning?

Green cleaning involves using cleaning products, equipment, and supplies that pose no risk to the environment or human health. More facilities managers are adopting green cleaning procedures because studies have shown that most people spend close to 90 percent of their time indoors. As such, they need to be able to breathe air that is clean and safe rather than laden with chemicals and residue from cleaning products.

In fact, scientific studies have shown that the quality of indoor air is often just as polluted and toxic as the outdoor air in urban areas. People who breathe in residue from spray cleaning products and chemicals stand a greater chance of developing respiratory illnesses. This chance is magnified if the building does not have a good ventilation system in it.

Even if your building has a high-quality ventilation system, you may still want to adopt and use green cleaning procedures. You will protect the respiratory health of people in your building while still getting the clean and sanitary conditions you are expected to maintain as a facilities manager.

Steps for Green Cleaning

You might be wondering what green cleaning procedures involve and how different they are from the procedures you use now to clean your building. In reality, green cleaning is not all that different from regular cleaning. Your primary goal is to clean the premises albeit while reducing or eliminating indoor air pollution.

You can start by purchasing and using green cleaning products. These products range from recycled and soluble paper towels to carpet deodorizer and paint that are free from toxic fumes and dangerous chemicals.

Most green cleaning products today are denoted by the Greenguard certification, which means they are guaranteed not to release volatile organic compounds or VOCs into the air. They also are formulated to avoid polluting the soil, water, and other elements in the environment.

Another green cleaning tip involves using magnetic door mats at or near the entrances of your building. These specially designed mats draw dirt and dust from the bottom of people's shoes.

Less dirt and dust tracked into the building means that you have to use fewer indoor cleaning products like bleach or ammonia. Your floors stay cleaner and require less scrubbing and mopping because of these mats.

Even so, you still might want to dust mop the floors in your building on a daily basis. Rather than use a harsh chemical-laden floor cleaning product, you should use one that is water-based. A water-based cleaner protects the indoor air quality without compromising the cleanliness of the floor.

Likewise, you can avoid using an excess amount of cleaning products by using a sustainable floor coating on your building's floors. The sustainable floor coating protects your floor and prevents dirt and debris from becoming ground in them.

Your floors will require less maintenance and will not need to be spray buffed, burnished, deep scrubbed, or stripped as often. You avoid using an excess amount of chemicals on the floor while also reducing labor costs for your building.

Finally, you should switch to using a high-efficiency filter in your vacuums. Most carpets can hold up to 10 times their weight in dirt and debris. This residue gets grounded into the carpeting and is difficult for standard vacuum cleaners to pick up and remove. You may have to use harsh chemical-laden products like sprays and foams to loosen and remove the debris.

A high-efficiency vacuum filter, however, is powerful enough to remove the dirt and dust without the use of foams, sprays, and other carpet cleaning chemicals. The filter also traps the debris and prevents it from being spit back out by the vacuum into the carpeting. High-efficiency filters are typically certified green and ideal to use when you are adopting green cleaning procedures for your building.

As a facilities manager, you are expected to keep your building sanitary and clean at all times. You do not have to use products that contain harsh chemicals that could harm people's health as well as the environment. You can get the sanitary conditions you want and maintain them easily when you use green cleaning procedures in your building.

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How Efficient are Solar Panels in Bad Weather?

Solar panels are becoming more commonplace in homes and businesses across the world. They help home and business owners save money on their electric and heating bills. They also generate safe, green energy without having to use fossil fuels like coal or gasoline.

If you have contemplated installing solar panels in your building, you might wonder how they perform in overcast weather. You may be convinced of their worth by discovering their efficiency in all weather conditions even when the skies are cloudy.

Solar Panels and Cloudy Weather

A big misconception among people who do not own solar panels is that these fixtures have to be exposed to intense and bright sunlight in order to work properly. After all, they cannot generate power if the sun is not shining down on them, correct?

In fact, this belief is entirely wrong and one that solar panel manufacturers and companies are trying to dispel. They want home and business owners to know that solar panels do not require bright, sunny skies in order to function. They can still generate energy even when the sun is overcast by clouds.

Just as you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day, so too can solar panels absorb sun rays on days that are overcast. Some sunlight still gets through the clouds, allowing the panels to generate electricity and power for the building on which they are installed.

However, the amount of energy they produce on cloudy days depends on factors like how thick the clouds are. On days that are heavily overcast, the panels might generate around 10 to 25 percent of their capacity, which still would make an impact on lowering your energy bills.

Solar Panels and Snow and Ice

Another misconception among home and business owners is that solar panels will not work if they are covered in snow and ice. In fact, these panels rarely become piled up with snow and ice. They are typically installed at an angle so the precipitation slides off of them especially when they become heated after absorbing the sun's rays.

If you live in a part of the globe that experiences a lot of ice and snow, you can still get a good return on your solar panel investment. Solar panels are designed to function even when it is snowing or icing outside. They will still generate safe and clean energy that will reduce your building's carbon footprint and lower your utility costs.

Solar Panels and Cold Weather

Just as they perform well in snowy and icy conditions, so too do they function the same if not better in locations that experience cold weather. They do not require hot and sunny conditions to work as designed. In fact, studies have shown that solar panels do just as well or better in parts of the world that have colder weather.

For example, places like San Francisco, New Jersey, and New York are among the top 10 solar power locations even though these places experience colder weather than other parts of the country. The panels actually generate less energy when the weather is hot and muggy outside and the sunlight is beating directly down on them.

Solar Panels and Hail Stones

At first glance, you might assume that solar panels are delicate and fragile fixtures. They look like they might shatter into a million pieces if they were ever hit with a hail stone.

However, these panels are actually designed to withstand direct impact from debris like hail stones. They undergo mandatory testing before they are ever sold and installed in homes and businesses to make sure they can hold up in stormy weather.

Studies have consistently shown that hail stones, even sizable ones, cannot break or shatter the solar panels. It would take a significant storm to compromise the structural integrity and the generating power of solar panels.

Solar panels do not need direct sunlight and warm weather to function correctly. They can absorb light from the sun and generate safe and efficient power even on cloudy, stormy, and cold days. Their versatility allows them to be installed in many locations around the world and return a buyer's investment without consuming fossil fuels like coal or gas.

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Is Geothermal Heating and Cooling a Viable Alternative?

As a facilities manager, it is up to you to keep the costs of running your building as low as possible. As summer or winter approaches, however, you might find yourself worrying about rising energy costs. Your solution could be to install a geothermal heat pump system that can help lower utility expenses and give you a steady return on your investment.

What are Geothermal Heat Pumps?

A geothermal heat pump is an environmentally friendly system that can both heat and cool a business or home. It does not need fossil fuels like coal or gasoline to operate. Instead, it harnesses the geothermal heat from within the earth's underground to maintain a comfortable temperature in the building.

These systems are energy efficient and cost effective, allowing building owners to save significantly on their utility bills. However, they also reduce the carbon footprint of a business or homeowner.

They do not require a lot of space in which to be installed. While some systems can be installed horizontally in a field in a rural setting, systems that go into urban buildings can be installed vertically sometimes in a space as small as a dining room table.

Once installed, these systems go to work right away harnessing the temperatures from the earth's underground to cool or heat the building. With proper care, the interior parts of the system can last for as long as 12 years.

The pipes installed under the ground can last for as long as 50 years. This longevity means you get your money's worth out of the geothermal heat pump before you have to replace or repair it.

Further, most geothermal heat pump owners see savings of 60 to 70 percent off their utility costs within the first year alone. You can recoup the total cost of the system within five to 10 years after you have it installed.

Finally, building owners who choose to install geothermal heat pump systems in their buildings often have a unique opportunity to take advantage of incentives and tax credits. A number of utility companies are offering rebates to customers who install these systems in their buildings. The rebates can range from $1000 to $6000 with the average rebate being around $4000 per customer.

You can also claim credits on your taxes after installing one of these systems. You can deduct up to 30 percent of the installation cost from your taxes, helping you recoup some of the money you spent on the geothermal heat pump system.

The monetary advantages that come with geothermal heat pump systems can make this heating and cooling choice more attractive to you. You can save money on your building's utility costs while still keeping it cool or warm during the summer and winter.

Additional Information about Geothermal Heat Pumps

If the cost effectiveness of these systems has yet to convince you, you might be swayed by discovering the versatility that geothermal heat pumps can offer to customers. Along with heating and cooling your building, a geothermal heat pump can likewise be installed and used to heat pavement right outside of your building's doors. The heated pavement prevents ice and snow from accumulating during the wintertime.

Further, the rejected heat from the system can be used to heat outdoor pools, hot tubs, or fountains. You can enjoy these fixtures all year long knowing that the water in them will remain thawed by the geothermal heat pump system installed underneath them.

Finally, as a facilities manager, you might pay attention to state of the local economy. When you invest in a geothermal heat pump for your building, you contribute to the productivity and health of the economy.

All of the system's pumps and parts are made in the U.S. The manufacturers of these systems boost the local economy by creating more jobs. Likewise, contractors who are hired to install these systems benefit by hiring more workers and putting money back into the economy.

A geothermal heat pump system can reduce the costs involved with cooling and heating your building. You can keep your expenses low while helping to boost the local economy by investing in a geothermal heat pump for your building today.

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