4  FM quick reads on green

1. Green Programs Provide Facilities Education

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is taking action to better understand your buildings.

How well do you know your facilities? What types of activities do you undertake to expand your knowledge and better understand the intricacies of building operations?

Pursuing certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), allowed an engineer I spoke with recently to take an in-depth look at one facility's maintenance and operations activities.

The experience has provided him with lessons he can apply to other buildings pursuing LEED certification or undertaking initiatives to improve their environmental responsibility.

"It was a huge learning curve," the engineer said of the LEED-certification effort. "It felt like I was doing a giant book report on the campus. I had to learn about transportation. I had to learn about recycling. I had to learn about purchasing. It was very educational for me to get (familiar) with the campus."

While talking with managers about energy benchmarking recently, the book-report comment seemed applicable yet again. Benchmarking facility energy use forces managers to delve deeply into the performance of buildings and equipment.

Without generating an energy baseline, managers and technicians too often operate on assumptions related to building efficiency or do not realize the improvements they can make, sometimes without expending a lot of time and money.

Whether through benchmarking energy use or pursuing LEED certification, becoming more familiar with facilities operations is a practice managers and technicians undoubtedly should seek out if the opportunity presents itself.

Maintenance, LEED and Design

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is the maintenance role in sustainable design.

Size alone cannot measure the impact a seemingly modest renovation and addition have had on the facilities management department for the City of Minneapolis.

While the $7.6 million Third Precinct Police Headquarters Project encompassed only 45,000 square feet, those involved with planning and carrying out the project now realize the lasting effect it has had on the way the city designs, builds, and maintains facilities.

The city renovated the existing 16,000-square-foot facility, specifying new mechanical and electrical systems, as well as sustainable technologies. More importantly, the project in 2005 signaled a shift in the way the facilities department plans and executes projects designed to modernize and expand the city's building portfolio.

This project sparked the city to adopt the U.S. Green Building Council's green building rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), for renovations and new construction.

The project also marked a change in the role maintenance staff plays in renovation and construction projects. The staff had a key role in the design review, helping specify equipment and materials. Staff members also were involved in the commissioning process after the project was complete.

Involving maintenance early in the projects has created a sense of ownership within the facilities department. Whether the issue is providing input on mechanical and electrical systems or bringing to light operational challenges, such as the number of electrical outlets to install or the type of soap dispensers to specify, everyone in the facilities department brings expertise to the table.

The maintenance staff also kept the facility operating as smooth as possible during the project. A great deal of staging and coordination had to take place each day, but without the help of those responsible for maintaining the facilities, that coordination would have been more difficult for the project team to tackle.

Plumbing and Water Conservation

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is Manufacturers of plumbing fixtures are updating existing product 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.

To ensure these products meet performance demands, maintenance and engineering managers should look for fixtures that feature a label from the WaterSense program, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WaterSense-labeled fixtures are third-party tested, ensuring compliance with the required effective flush volume and solid-waste removal.

When possible, managers with aggressive water-conservation goals should specify and install only fixtures that have the WaterSense label. WaterSense has not developed a specification for flushometer valves.

Managers also are going beyond high-efficiency toilets and looking at water-saving urinal technology.

Waterless urinals have been in successful operation for several years, and many managers with an aggressive sustainable approach and an ambitious maintenance program have been satisfied with the fixtures' performance. But manufacturers now are making a flush-type fixture that uses 1 pint of water per flush. It does not have the maintenance concerns of the waterless fixture, yet still conserves water.

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.


green , leed , maintenance and operations , energy , energy efficiency , benchmarking

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