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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. ...
7 Aug 2012
Size of Workstation Should Align with Corporate Culture
Anyone who thinks that cutting costs is the only reason to give employees less space should consider what Facebook did when it moved into the old headquarters of Sun Microsystems. Sun, one of the tech stars of the 1990s, designed its headquarters with private offices for software engineers. Not large offices, but offices with walls and doors so programmers could have quiet while writing code. That strategy was...
7 Aug 2012
Life Cycle Cost Analysis Can Prevent Deficit Spending
Pity the poor politician who has to defend deficit spending these days. After a period in which deficits were gradually brought under control, the last decade has seen the return of enormous budget shortfalls. When critics lambaste deficit spending, the biggest complaint is that we are saddling future generations with costs that we should be paying ourselves. We’re stealing from our children, the argument goes....
4 Jun 2012
Low Energy Star Score Is an Opportunity to Save Energy
What would you do if you benchmarked a building using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager and got back a score of 42? Or 22? Or 2? I’m not sure how many facility managers would clap their hands and run to the CEO to announce the good news. But it is good news, albeit of the good news/bad news variety. In some ways, a very low Energy Star score is indeed bad news. It means the organization is spending a lot more...
5 Apr 2012
FMXcellence Recognizes Facility Departments for Adding Value
It’s easy for facility managers to think of themselves as having a bricks and mortar job. This year’s FMXcellence recognition program shows how accurate that view is — and how limited. Behind all the heavy equipment and sophisticated technology of the projects that received recognition, you can see the other side of facility management — the so-called “soft skills.” Even if those skills...
27 Feb 2012
Bad News in Facility Management? Tell Top Management — Now
It certainly wasn’t good news: There was a serious fire in my son’s residence hall, which forced students to evacuate at 4:30 on a Sunday morning. But I can’t consider it bad news that the university emailed parents within hours to let us know what happened. Sending that email was not only the right thing to do, it was also good rumor control. For one thing, it let parents know that no one was hurt...
6 Feb 2012
Having Good Information Isn't Enough for Facility Managers
I heard some really good news not too long ago. I was at a presentation for top executives, and the topic was sustainability. One of the speakers started describing tax deductions for energy efficient upgrades in buildings. The takeaway, and I quote: “You can pretty much get a tax deduction for anything you put in.” If you’re familiar with EPAct tax deductions , does that make you laugh? Cry? Or just...
2 Jan 2012
To Expand Network, Ask the Right Questions
In case you forgot to make a New Year’s Resolution, here are some retroactive resolutions to consider: Get more exercise. Save more money for retirement. Expand your network across the organization. Good ideas, right? And what better way to start 2012 than by resolving to improve yourself. Still, those resolutions by themselves don’t seem very useful. They may qualify as good advice, but they don’t...
5 Dec 2011
Building Occupants Do Care About Facilities
When it comes to facilities, there are plenty of opportunities to complain — it’s too hot, it’s too cold, this is leaking, that isn’t working. But if you ever start thinking that no one notices the good things about facilities, consider the following thought from a software engineer who works for a giant tech company. He’s describing the workspace of his former employer, another well-known...
11 Nov 2011
Facility Managers Have to Make LEED Buildings Work
No one really wants to say this out loud, but the fact is that a LEED design alone won’t give you an energy-efficient building. Architects don’t want to say it because it sounds like they’re not doing their jobs when they design LEED buildings. The U.S. Green Building Council doesn’t want to say it because it sounds like LEED guidelines are no good. And facility managers don’t want to...
4 Oct 2011
Start Convincing Top Executives that Facilities Can Add Value
Facility managers get handed so many problems that it’s no wonder some adopt a sort of fullback mentality. Take the ball, put your head down and try to plow ahead. That works, up to a point, but you take a lot of pounding along the way — from occupants, other managers, even top executives. Over time, they may even come to seem like the other team. So why not quit? Not literally. But think about retiring...
7 Sep 2011
New Look for Building Operating Management
What I want to ask all of you, of course, is, “Well, what do you think?” We’ve spent months working to improve Building Operating Management , and now, ta-da, here it is. I imagine you feel much the same way when you renovate a building or upgrade space. But as editors we can’t even see the expressions on your faces as you move through the redesigned pages of the magazine. As a substitute for...