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Balancing Innovation With Practicality in Green Interiors

As sustainable interior choices continue to mature, facility managers are faced with an ever widening array of possibilities in everything from paints to furniture, wall coverings to carpeting. Just about everywhere you look, a green choice is an option. And designers love to play with new toys, which leaves facility managers to balance out how to pursue higher functionality and performance with the realities of running a facilities management department.

Here is what Peter Strazdas associate vice president, facilities management at Western Michigan University, has to say on the matter of balancing green innovation with practical considerations. First of all, whatever product is selected requires training the staff on how to use it and maintain it. And then, "if you keep adding new stuff, the operating folks become less efficient, because now they have to stock more," he says. "Your maintenance stock is going to be inefficient. So the more new stuff you get on a campus, the more variety that you have, designers love it and maintenance people hate it."

More variety equals less efficiency in maintaining stock. Which is not to say stick with the same old same old just for the sake of inventory management. At Western Michigan, they have a maintenance storeroom with $1million worth of product. If they had one of everything, that would be an inefficient storeroom, Strazdas says. On the other hand, he adds, only one light bulb type for the whole campus would be inefficient.

"You have to introduce the new stuff in a smart way to have a reasonable shot at maintaining a balance for the operating side of the budget," he says.


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