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23 Sep 2014
Aging Infrastructures Could Push Water Costs Higher
When I see the words “water problems” and “California” in the same headline, the first thing that comes to mind is drought. But what made the headlines recently is the water main break in Los Angeles, which cost the city millions of gallons of water. When I hear “water problems” and “Lake Erie” in the same newscast, my first thought is pollution. And it was in fact algae...
22 Jul 2014
Who Cares What FMs Do?
I’m sure there are times most facility managers feel that way. When your budget has been cut again. When you’re the last one to find out about a change in the way the facility will be used. When the umpteenth ludicrous complaint hits your inbox or voicemail. Well, the fact is there are tens of thousands of people who care about what you do. That’s because they do the same thing. And tapping into the...
1 Jul 2014
Justifying Funds For Training: Survey Numbers May Help
How many times have you heard someone say, “people are our biggest asset”? Maybe you’ve said it yourself. It isn’t news that people play a critical role in getting buildings to perform efficiently. For example, Energy Star numbers have shown for years that older buildings can perform just as well as newer ones, on average; what matters for performance isn’t how new the building systems are...
17 Jun 2014
Don't Let Your Buildings Be Greenwashed
The sign hanging on the door of the bathroom assured me that this hotel was sensitive to concerns about the environment, so it was going to let me choose how often I would have my towels laundered. I’m always happy to see those signs. They seem like such a painless way for a property to enable guests to save a little water and energy, while, of course, saving the hotel time and money. But I have to say that I...
22 Apr 2014
Climate Change Report Shows It's Important To Make Facilities As Energy Efficient As Possible
Here’s an interesting way to look at energy use by U.S. buildings, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Institute : Existing buildings in the United States account for 72 percent of our electricity use, which is more electricity than any country in the world (except for China and, of course, the United States) uses in total. For all of us concerned about climate change, that number offers some good news. It’s...
25 Mar 2014
Facility Managers And Occupants Often Speak Different Languages
Facility managers are often told that they should speak the language of the boardroom — ROI, IRR, and NPV instead of kWh and Btu. But top management isn’t the only group that may require facility managers to do some translating. Two sessions at NFMT showed that it’s far from a given that the message is getting through when facility managers talk to building occupants, and vice versa. One session had...
7 Mar 2014
FMXcellence Honorees Show Many Ways To Add Value
One thing that makes facility management, ahem, interesting is variety. There is no end to things that can go wrong with the building itself, to say nothing about complaints from occupants. Fortunately, there are also plenty of opportunities to add value. A look at this year’s FMXcellence honorees shows how many ways there are to do that. Westminster Schools is a great example of bootstrapping an energy and water...
3 Feb 2014
New Role Model For Facility Managers: Apple
I have always thought that the real secret of Apple’s success was software. Apple didn’t invent the PC, but the Mac operating system blazed the trail that Microsoft followed in the 1980s. There were MP3 players before the iPod, smartphones before the iPhone, tablets before the iPad. Without giving it much thought, I assumed that iOS and platforms like iTunes and the App Store defined Apple. So I was surprised...
28 Jan 2014
Occupant Complaints: Horror Stories And Practical Responses
A few months ago, our senior editor, Naomi Millán, showed me a draft of a survey on occupant complaints for the cover story of the January issue . The last few questions were open-ended, asking readers to share their tips, pet peeves, and horror stories. The usual rule with surveys is that open-ended questions dampen response. Three open-ended questions seemed like a lot to me, but since they were at the end...
21 Nov 2013
Healthcare Facilities Can Help Patients Feel Better To Heal Better
I found myself unexpectedly out of the office recently. Most of the day was spent waiting around. Fortunately, I landed in a 10th floor room with a nice view, and the facility had a good WiFi connection. It wasn’t quite the same as being in the office, but I could get a lot done. That’s not the way I would have expected to describe an overnight stay in the hospital, where I wound up for observation after...
25 Sep 2013
Facility Managers Can Help Close Green Gap
Over the years, I have wondered if the U.S. Green Building Council should be doing more to ensure that LEED -certified new buildings are operated in a way that ensures they live up to their green designs. Well, as time has passed, “more” is exactly what USGBC has been doing. With LEED v4 , USGBC is taking new steps to emphasize the actual performance of construction projects that earn LEED certification...
20 Aug 2013
"Tenant Star": Congress Considering Bill To Recognize Tenant Energy Efficiency
Landlords do it. Owner-occupiers do it. But tenants in multitenant facilities? They really can’t do it. At least not at present. “It,” in this case, is getting certified by Energy Star . Now, as tenant energy use draws more attention, Congress is considering a bill that would create “Tenant Star” within the Energy Star program. The idea is to recognize tenants that voluntarily achieve...
23 Jul 2013
Climate Change Is An Issue That Won't Go Away
The good news is that per capita carbon emissions in the United States are down significantly over the past few years. The bad news is that our per capita emissions level is still more than twice as high as that of China or the European Union and roughly 10 times as high as that of India. (Click here for a report showing the numbers as of 2011 - see page 13 of the report.) In that context, President Obama’s announcement...
25 Jun 2013
Understanding The Real Priority Behind GM's New Data Centers
Let’s pretend your company decides to do what General Motors just did: make a massive investment in new data centers . (Well, maybe not quite as massive an investment as the $230 million dollars GM says it will wind up spending to construct its two new facilities.) What do you, as the VP of facilities, do now? There are a million things to do, of course. But one of the most important is to ask a simple question...
14 Jun 2013
Is Green A Good Idea For Facility Managers?
The reason I pose the question in the headline is that I sometimes hear facility managers say sustainable measures aren’t worthwhile if they don’t pay for themselves. Certainly it’s great when green steps have a strong ROI. In many cases it’s also a practical necessity: Top management often won’t fund green measures if the ROI isn’t good enough. But is sustainability merely another...
7 May 2013
Yahoo! Says It's Dumping Work-At-Home For Collaboration
It’s surprising that the edict came from the tech industry, where competition for talent is fierce. But there it was, in a memo to all Yahoo! employees: “Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices.” Estimates of the number of people who work from home vary widely. But whatever the number, telecommuting is widely seen as an employee...
2 Apr 2013
FMXcellence 2013 Recognizes Facility Managers Who Add Value
There’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s FMXcellence honorees, but the lesson may not be obvious. ( Click here to read about the honorees. ) This year’s honorees were recognized for very large projects or programs. The enterprise real estate group of TD Bank Group helped meet a corporate commitment to carbon neutrality by creating an enterprise green building program that has produced three...
18 Mar 2013
Glenborough Uses A Structured Approach to Evaluating Energy Saving Measures
For the past decade, Glenborough LLC, a full service real estate investment and management firm, has focused on improving the energy efficiency of its portfolio. Today, the average Energy Star score for one of the firm's buildings is 84. Click here to learn more about how Glenborough uses a structured approach to evaluating energy-saving measures across its portfolio.
26 Feb 2013
Hurricane Sandy: Emergency Preparedness Plans Saved Money, Survey Says
An emergency preparedness plan is an insurance policy. And like any insurance policy, it doesn’t pay off until something bad happens. There is no stream of cash from lower energy costs, no gains in comfort, no staff time saved. Without such immediate gains to point to, it’s more difficult for the facility manager to justify the time and money required to develop and maintain — by practicing and updating...
23 Jan 2013
Facility Managers Have A New Motivational Strategy: Gamification
In our society, competition is everywhere you turn, from our political system and economy to sporting events and the television shows that pit singers, dancers, chefs, and even those trying to lose weight against one another. For facility managers, the natural human impulse to compete is like free cooling. It’s a widely available resource, something that facility managers can make use of, with a little bit of...
17 Dec 2012
More Energy Efficient Tenant Build Outs Is Project Goal
Over the past decade, many commercial real estate firms have seen the light about the virtues of energy efficiency. But the base building is at best half the story of energy consumption in commercial buildings. And tenants, which may use 50 percent or more of the energy in a building, often focus far less on energy efficiency than owners and property management firms do. Now there’s an effort afoot to transform...
27 Nov 2012
Efficient Building Operations At Heart Of Government Efforts To Combat Climate Change
One thing that President Obama can’t claim a mandate for is action on climate change. Obama never made the topic a high-enough profile issue in his re-election campaign to claim broad popular support for his ideas on climate change. But the push for U.S. action on climate change is far from dead. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York City’s Independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg, cited the importance of...
22 Oct 2012
One Way Facility Managers Can Persuade Top Management to Fund Energy Upgrades
You’ve heard this old question: If a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Here’s a facility management version: If a project reduces energy costs, but top management never hears about it, does it save money? In reality, the answer is yes. But in the minds of the CEO and CFO, the opposite is true. In this case, perception can be just as important as reality. Energy...
4 Oct 2012
Innovations in Facility Products and Practices Bring Energy Saving Opportunities
Brand new technology. Familiar products that keep getting better. Fresh ideas about design and operation. Taken together, these developments have multiplied opportunities to reduce energy use. Keeping up is almost a full-time job. A range of products that didn’t exist or weren’t ready for prime time a decade ago — from LEDs to fault detection software to windows that change color — are transforming...
17 Sep 2012
Critical Facilities Summit for Data Center, Hospital, Lab Infrastructure
It could be a server room that has turned into a data center. Or it could be an old data center that now supports growing functions like e-commerce. Maybe it’s a hospital where robotic operating suites can’t afford to be offline for the few seconds allowed by code. Or maybe it’s an R&D lab where the research has become increasingly critical, though the infrastructure hasn’t been updated. ...