4 FM quick reads on sustainability
1. Who Runs Sustainability In Your Organization?
Today's tip of the day is about the chief sustainability officer position, and how more and more companies are choosing a c-suite executive to run sustainability efforts.
Who run the sustainability efforts at your organization? Is it someone in the facilities department (you?)? Is it a health, safety and welfare person who reports to the Chief Operating Officer?
If you're a smaller organization, is it your CFO? How about maybe a bright-eyed, 20-something in marketing whose only real requirement is passion for sustainability?
All these scenarios are actually fairly common these days. But, increasingly, organizations are tasking the bull by the horns and hiring a single person to set the sustainability agenda for the entire organization.
These folks come from a variety of educations and backgrounds (much like facility managers!) - but their one commonality is that they usually are promoted from within the organization. The reason for this is simple: Success for a sustainability executive depends on knowing the organization inside and out; knowing what the organization's priorities are, and therefore knowing how to frame initiatives within the boundaries of those organizational goals and strategies.
The December, 2012 cover story of Building Operating Management magazine includes the stories of several sustainability executives from large organizations. They all agreed that one of their main tasks in working on sustainability projects — whether greenhouse gas emissions inventory or recycling — is building bridges between departments in the organization, often working on projects and with people for whom they don't have direct responsibility.
Thankfully, most people these days recognize the importance of sustainability — not just as a "feel good, do-the-right-thing" proposition, but as a business imperative. They recognize that efficiency - using fewer resources, and therefore saving money — benefits the organization at large. After all, everyone's on the same team — and a rising tide raises all ships!
Irrigation Issues: Upgrading for Savings
More maintenance and engineering managers nationwide are forced to deal with water restrictions when planning an upgrade of their irrigation systems, but the West Coast has been dealing with such restrictions for many years.
When Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., implemented its computerized irrigation system in 2008, part of the motivation behind it was to more effectively comply with such water-reduction requirements.
The organization's science and technology research center, located 45 minutes east of San Francisco, features more than 300,000 square feet of landscapes, 50,000 square feet of hardscape, and 350,000 square feet of plantings over 13 acres of developed area.
Starting in 2007, the laboratory operated under a federal requirement to reduce its water use by 2 percent a year for eight years — a total that required a reduction of 16 percent, says Robert Holland, Sandia's environmental monitoring program lead.
The 2008 system was installed to help minimize unnecessary watering, Holland says. It measures wind and humidity, and when it senses rain, it shuts down within 10 minutes. With the previous system, irrigation could continue for six-eight hours before workers manually turned it off, resulting in hundreds of gallons of water being wasted.
"In 2009, we actually employed the flow-sensing device or option that goes along with the control system," says Gerald Vincent, the team lead for facilities at Sandia. "At that time, we made some additional changes with the master valves. When making the installation, that was a challenge.
"We weren't aware that there were additional equipment devices for the irrigation system that would go along with getting to the point of seeing the water management reduction we were looking for. The evapotranspiration (ET) base, we haven't used to its full capacity. We're bringing that online. There are several challenges there, but we're working through them with the local vendor."