Sustainability 202 – A Facility Manager’s Perspective Part 2

Sustainability 202 – A Facility Manager’s Perspective Part 2

By: Gary K. Pino, FMP, SFP

Having had the opportunity to enroll in and successfully complete the IFMA Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP) designation course, I was bombarded with mind boggling SUSTAINABLE facts, figures and opinions to help me understand what is needed to “develop the knowledge and skills to envision, plan and implement strategic sustainability programs in existing facilities.”

One of the first eye opening facts that caught my attention was how the focus of sustainability for the Facility Manager (FM) has shifted from new construction to existing buildings.  When this happens, the FM modifies and adds to their efforts and responsibilities of not only being a New Construction Site Selector, Project Manager, Communication liaison, Problem solver, Auditor and Strategy Developer but also incorporates additional Sustainable roles and responsibilities of being an Information & data provider, a Researcher, an Enforcer, and a Resource Procurer.  By combining these two (2) (i.e., New Construction and Existing Buildings) elements, the organization benefits substantially from a Sustainability standpoint.

Some of these benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Decreased environmental and emissions impacts
  • Improved health of building occupants
  • Increased productivity of building occupants
  • Lower energy and water costs
  • Lower operations & maintenance costs
  • Positive image in the community
  • Positive impacts on the local and global environment
  • Potential application for the pubic aid / tax benefits

Although many other sustainable certification programs and building rating systems have established key sustainability initiatives, I am going to summarize the eight (8) major categories of Sustainability, as proclaimed by IFMA – due to my familiarity with this organization … as well as provide some of the main considerations related to each of the eight (8) IFMA identified categories.

  1. Energy
  2. Indoor Environmental Quality
  3. Materials & Resources
  4. Quality of Services
  5. Site Impact
  6. Waste
  7. Water
  8. Workplace Management

IFMA’s examination of Operating Sustainable Facilities has determined that studying, identifying and modifying ENERGY related activities is the simplest sustainability category of the eight (8) to initiate changes.  With regard to ENERGY, most organizations’ sustainability efforts and Facility Managers would focus on:

  • How to consume the use of less energy overall
  • How to use energy from renewable sources
  • How to use energy in a more socially & environmentally responsible manner

Since a large volume of the workforce spends a great majority of its time indoors, the INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY – created by the facility, may have a dramatic effect on the productivity of its workers.  For this sole reason, it is essential that Facility Managers:

  • Become more aware of how indoor air quality affects workers. With that said, every effort must be made to reduce the various amounts of pollutants and other harmful substances in the air
  • Become sensitive to how the facility adds to the overall comfort of the occupants
  • Develop a complete and full understanding of how the facility can manage hazardous materials

The third sustainability category, MATERIALS & RESOURCES, focuses only on the obtaining of facility resources in a sustainable fashion.   To accomplish this sustainability goal, Facility Managers must have a command on:

  • How the facility uses finite / limited resources
  • How recyclable materials are managed within the facility
  • How purchases are accomplished in an ethical and corporately responsible manner
  • How potentially hazardous materials (PHM’s) are used within the facility

The QUALITY of SERVICES pertain to the needs of the occupants of the facility, whereas, all of the other key categories influence the sustainability of the services being provided.   As a result, Facility Managers must have a handle on:

  • How mail services, copying, printing services and document management are provided in the facility
  • How meeting services are provided
  • How exteriors, grounds, landscaping and amenities are maintained

The next sustainability category, SITE IMPACT, relates to areas associated with the exterior of the facility and its property.  Since various facility policies and procedures can affect site sustainability on a direct and indirect basis, Facility Managers must have an understanding of:

  • How storm water is going to be managed by the facility
  • How light pollution will be reduced within the facility
  • How to reduce the facility’s contribution to the “heat island” effect
  • How to encourage sustainable transportation alternatives

Probably one of the most important sustainability categories (besides Energy & Water), would be WASTE, and managing Waste is made up of six (6) different strategies:

  1. Prevention
  2. Minimization
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycling
  5. Energy Recovery
  6. Disposal

With the aforementioned Waste Strategies in mind, the Facility Manager must be aware of:

  • How the collection and disposal of waste will be handled
  • How to reduce the amount of waste the facility generates
  • How to create and/or better utilize a recycling program
  • How to properly dispose of hazardous waste

As previously mentioned, WATER is one our most valuable natural resources … and it goes without saying that the shortage of fresh / clean water supplies is becoming increasingly common throughout the world due to drought conditions and continued population growth.  Therefore, Facility Managers must help manage:

  • How water is being used in the facility
  • How the facility can recycle and reuse its water sources

Last but not least is WORKPLACE MANAGEMENT … which is defined as “using that (facility’s) space in the most efficient and effective way possible.”  Consequently, a Facility Manager must be knowledgeable and effective at:

  • Making the facility’s space more flexible in order to maximize the space available and avoid the need for expanding
  • Encouraging and supporting virtual work alternatives
  • Creating workspaces that are productive and innovative without causing distractions
  • Decreasing the facility’s impact on the environment

Comments are closed.