Now that spring is here, it's not uncommon to see a renewed focus on things like spring cleaning efforts. These practices can be applied to your facility as well. With Earth Day just last week, it's a perfect opportunity to assess your facility's impact on the environment, and to brainstorm ways to operate in a more eco-friendly way.
Depending on the size, type or budget of your facility, there are a variety of ways you can integrate a greener strategy into your maintenance and operations. Here are a few ways you can harness the spirit of Earth Day and enhance your building's environmental focus.
1. Energy efficiency
By far one of the greatest operating expenses incurred by most facilities, energy usage represents a key area in which efforts can be taken to make for a greener building. There are a variety of ideas you can implement, on both large and small scales, to improve your building's energy efficiency.
One of the areas that has the most significant impact on energy efficiency is windows and doors. Poorly caulked, sealed or insulated entryways can bleed substantial amounts of air, causing you to watch your hot air in the winter or your cool air in the summer float right out the window, along with the money paid for heating and cooling. Fortunately, controlling this can be as simple as caulking the windows and doors that are draft or not properly sealed. Additionally, you can apply UV film to your windows to keep the harmful and room-warming ultraviolet rays from the sun out, while still getting the benefit of natural light.
Speaking of light, your building's lighting solution is another key area that you can focus on to green up your facility. In fact, you may even be due for a full lighting retrofit. Inspect your current lighting fixtures to determine where they are in their life cycle, as well as what their energy use is like compared to industry-standard benchmarks. You may find that it's more cost-effective in the long run - and more eco-friendly - to upgrade to compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights.
Another way you can trim down expenditures and energy use associated with your lighting is to use automated timers. Building automation can help you observe which areas aren't being used at a given time, and then allow you to set a timer that will ensure that lights aren't being used when they aren't needed.
3. Sustainable construction
Even the materials and methods used in the construction, maintenance and upgrading of your facility can be part of your environmental strategy. Sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of facility management, and building managers can work to incorporate this into new construction and repairs alike.
Sustainable construction is a simple concept - it suggests that it's better to use building materials that can easily be replaced or aren't finite. One champion of the sustainable construction movement is bamboo - this exotic wood not only grows back very quickly, making harvesting large quantities of it for construction less of an environmental burden, but it looks beautiful as well. One main concern about sustainable construction is financial - that it can be a more expensive option than conventional alternatives. However, as the Holcim Foundation pointed out, economic viability, both long- and short-term, is a key element that is considered in sustainability projects. It's important not only that facilities use materials and processes that are cost-effective to implement, but also that the results of sustainability endeavors will have a far-reaching economic impact on both the building's bottom line and that of the surrounding community.