Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on green

1. Naturally Green Interior Products


As a general rule, interior products and materials that are as close to their natural state as possible are going to be greener than materials that have had a long production and manufacturing process.

For example, a natural floor tile such as slate or granite may have a smaller carbon footprint than linoleum. While linoleum is made from natural materials and is considered a sustainable product, there was still a manufacturing process in order to turn the raw materials into the final product. Natural stone on the other hand, requires little to no processing to result in the end product.

While in this example, both products are sustainable, linoleum is usually less expensive and easier to maintain. As with all product purchasing decisions, sustainable aspects as well as practical considerations should be weighed to choose the most appropriate product for a facility.


2.  Plumbing and water conservation

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is plumbing and water conservation.

Manufacturers of plumbing fixtures are updating existing products and developing new technologies, all in an effort to help institutional and commercial facilities conserve water.

Some organizations are interested primarily in code-minimum buildings, while others have a goal of certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. Still others are taking a more aggressive approach and want to go beyond LEED guidelines.

Toilets that use 1.6 gallons per flush, or gpf, have reduced water and sewer flows for 20 years. Now, some fixtures use less than 1.6 gpf. Managers should consider renovation projects that replace older, less-efficient water closets using more than 1.6 gpf with newer fixtures that conserve more water.

A dual-flush fixture is classified as a high-efficiency toilet. It offers two different flushing options: One option uses the full flush — 1.6 or 1.28 gpf — to clear the trap, similar to a standard fixture. The second option uses less water — a maximum of 1.1 gpf — to clear the trap of liquid waste.

Maintenance and engineering managers must remember that many sensor-operated toilets, urinals, and faucets use more water than manual fixtures because of so-called phantom flushes or activations. To reduce these flushes, manufacturers have introduced products that use wave-operated fixtures or an infrared sensor with a three-second delay.

Finally, managers should consider battery-operated fixtures, which continue to operate even if the facility loses power. Some battery-operated fixtures recharge through solar cells and water flow, while others have longer battery lives.

3.  Plumbing & Water Conservation

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is plumbing and water conservation.

Restrooms have become focal points for many institutional and commercial organizations seeking to become more environmentally responsible. The efforts focus on the specification and maintenance of key elements within restrooms, including plumbing fixtures. Since many budgets are tighter and demands for results are louder, managers need to act as quickly as possible to improve the sustainability of restrooms and generate savings for organizations.

By addressing plumbing fixtures and taking steps to improve the productivity of front-line technicians, managers can end up with restrooms that offer both greater sustainability and lower costs. Here are steps managers can take immediately

• Measure water use for restroom fixtures, and develop a conservation plan. Check for, locate, and fix leaks in faucets, showerheads, and toilet and urinal flush valves.

• Monitor for potential losses by replacing worn O-rings and washers before they start to leak water. This tactic is a proven way to lower water use and waste costs.

• Replace older, high-volume, timed-cycle flush valves and high-volume taps with newer, low-flow valves. Make sure sensor valves respond only to appropriate movements and solenoids function properly. Inserting restrictors or replacing valves with return on investment in mind can lock savings into the system.

• When upgrading fixtures, convert to fixtures with copper pipe extensions and a brass coupling nut. Technicians can install these extensions more quickly because they do not require a special wrench to reach up under the back of the sink.

• Check to see if hot-water temperatures at the heaters are set properly. If the temperature is set at 140 degrees, adjusting it to 120 degrees can result in large electricity savings.

• Finally, Insulate hot-water lines or move the heater closer to the point of use. This step can minimize heat loss and save water and chemicals.

4.  Why LEED-EB Certify?

Today's tip is about making the justification argument for going through the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance process.

Many skeptics wonder why facility managers would pay extra money to get a certification plaque on the wall. But many facility managers who have gone through the LEED-EBOM process say there are several reasons certification is worthwhile

First, FMs should understand that the certification process itself is a little simpler than it was a few years ago. The calculations and submission documents can now be submitted online and USGBC has streamlined some of the calculations to make them easier. In 2009, more than 275 projects completed LEED-EBOM certification. Compare that to only 17 in 2006.

The biggest reason for certification, say experts, is simply to verify your environmental strategies. Whether to the C-suite or potential tenants, having proof that you're doing what you're saying you're doing can go a long way to raising the credibility of the facility management department.

Another reason is simply to codify facility management procedures. One LEED-EBOM expert notes that you're doing everything in LEED-EBOM anyway - the only question is whether you're doing it to LEED standards. So by using LEED as a guide and going through the certification process, you can standardize your FM operation. This is especially useful in large FM organizations, where everyone may not have been doing things the same way.

Finally, certification is a great framework for setting goals for continuous improvement. That's because a LEED-EBOM certification requires a recertification a minimum of every five years, so FMs can now force themselves to set long-term goals and improve on where they stand at the time of certification.


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green , sustainable , products , specifying

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