earth day

4 Ways Facility Managers Can Celebrate Earth Day

  April 22, 2019

By Greg Zimmerman

Happy Earth Day. Today, people all over the globe are commemorating this annual day to remind ourselves that, as the bumper stickers say, “there is no Planet B.” For facility managers, here are a few suggestions for getting their occupants motivated and involved with sustainability initiatives on Earth Day.

1) Go full biophilia — Add plants. More and more studies are showing how important it is for humans to be in touch with nature on a regular basis. Biophilic design and operational strategies are crucial enough that the WELL Building Standard dedicates a credit to biophilia in building space. Overcome the notion that more plants require more maintenance by letting each department care for its own plants. Ask for volunteers. You’ll be surprised how many people are more than willing.

2) Start an incentive program for bike commuters, walkers, and users of public transportation — Taking cars off the road is another easy way to go green. And what’s more, incentivizing building occupants to walk or bike to work improves the health and wellness of your occupants — one of the many ways sustainability and health and wellness initiatives overlap. LEED, which has evolved dramatically beyond the old-school idea of just awarding credit for bike racks, now includes several improved and more all-encompassing alternative transportation credits.

3) Recycle more, use less — Give occupants their own reusable water bottles (with a company logo on them) to encourage less use of single-use water bottles. Eliminate single-use coffee pods. Ask for volunteers to set up a recycling booth in the lobby and collect e-waste, ink cartridges, lightbulbs, batteries, and other items building occupants may not know how to recycle on their own.

4) Kick off an energy-saving contest — Humans are inherently competitive, so incentivize departments to save energy by holding a contest pitting them against one another. As building systems become more efficient, plug loads are becoming a higher percentage of a building’s overall energy load, so making a dent in these controllable energy loads can go a long way to help reducing a building’s overall energy use.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.


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