With over 5.6 million commercial buildings in the United States, many people, employees and consumers alike, expect facilities to be sustainable—through energy conservation, solid waste management and recycling, and resource conservation, to name a few. But what many people don’t realize is that a sustainable business cannot be achieved without efficient facility management. Facility management sounds exactly like what it is: A professional management discipline rooted mainly in the efficient and sustainable delivery of services and facility improvements within the buildings being managed.
If you're reading this post, you're probably wondering what tools can be added to your arsenal to improve and succeed in facilities management, as a business or an individual. That's where we can help. At RoadRunner, we've learned that the most successful facility managers (FMs) focus on introducing the idea of optimization into their roles, early on, whether it's through upgrading company assets to boost efficiency, or working with innovative waste haulers to improve waste and recycling operations.
Read the post below to learn six top tips for driving long-term facility management success as well as suggestions for how to incorporate these key tactics and strategies into your role to effectively manage a building and improve your business long-term!
1. Upgrade Assets and Equipment
If you can't remember the last time your building's assets and equipment have been updated, chances are there is room to invest in more efficient models. One of the primary responsibilities of a facility manager includes keeping an eye on the newest technologies that will make the most significant impact on building operations. For most buildings, efficiency opportunities include upgrading HVAC systems, installing LED lighting, and adding, or replacing, equipment to improve sustainability, boost efficiency, and, ultimately, lower costs. Wolf Commercial Real Estate suggests that investing in energy efficiency can yield a return on investment (ROI) of 30 to 40 percent, and an improvement in net operating income (NOI).
Representing more than 40 percent of a commercial building's typical energy use, it's no wonder that many facility managers often make the biggest impact by upgrading their HVAC systems first. For example, implementing demand-controlled ventilation is one major way to help maintain and improve indoor air quality. This occurs through the automatic adjustment of one’s ventilation rate based on specific variables like the number of occupants in the building, and the ventilation demands that they create—which, when implemented saves energy and reduces operational expenses. Another cost-effective and energy-saving method to improve a facility can be achieved by upgrading lighting systems. Think about it: Even when buildings are empty, lighting usually remains on at all times, driving up utility costs and wasting large amounts of energy. But, this wasted energy can be avoided by installing energy efficient bulbs, usually qualified by ENERGY STAR, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, which use 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs, are higher performing—particularly in color quality, light output, and longevity—and help cut utility costs.
Other methods to consider that result in energy and cost savings include installing renewable energy sources like solar or geothermal panels, updating additional types of equipment like printers and freezers that are ENERGY STAR-certified, and using more efficient insulation to reduce energy loss. Gaining visibility into your building’s equipment performance, and making incremental improvements when necessary, is critical for making an impact as a facilities manager, maintaining company-wide sustainability, and cutting costs for a business. Don’t just take our word for it either: By integrating sustainability into its energy and facility management strategy, GPT Group saw an increase of $320 million to its asset portfolio in 2015.
2. Keep Facilities Clean
With health and wellness top of mind for most building executives and employees, especially due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, facility managers can't afford to overlook keeping their buildings clean. Ensuring hygienic working conditions are one increasingly significant responsibility of facilities managers that help promote a healthier, safer, and more efficient workplace environment.
One way to ensure a building’s cleanliness is by hiring cleaners or utilizing an in-house janitorial team. Investing some time in training them and setting sustainable expectations can go a long way in preserving the health of your building and its occupants. For example, encouraging this team to use eco-friendly cleaning products can reduce the number of toxic chemicals released into the environment and lessens harmful exposure for your employees and visitors. To start this process, be sure to search for cleaning products that do not contain harmful ingredients, including alkylphenol ethoxylates, phosphorus, volatile organic compounds (VOC).
FMs are also in a unique position to work with the cleaning crew to help enhance the effectiveness of their waste and recycling program. Work with them to understand which areas of the building generate the most waste and use your findings to strategically place trash and recycling receptacles appropriately. Creating new and convenient areas for disposal will likely encourage occupants to recycle more and make it less confusing for participants to do so. Don’t forget to communicate the importance of clean-stream recycling with the janitorial staff to improve their understanding and buy-in to this sustainable method of waste management, which is proven to reduce contamination, improve recycling rates, and keep containers clean. A reminder that keeping waste and recycling stations clean can also reinforce the importance of maintaining the quality of materials to be recycled for your employees and visitors!
3. Involve Key Stakeholders
Given the nature of this job, facility managers often work with numerous stakeholders every day. The ability to effectively work with a wide variety of people allows for the creation of a more sustainable, efficient, and healthy workplace. As mentioned above, FMs will work closely with janitorial crews and other stakeholders such as waste haulers, “green” teams, and purchasing departments. The good news is, by building relationships with key stakeholders and encouraging buy-in to vital facility initiatives, FMs can help further reduce the building's environmental footprint, increase recycling rates and landfill diversion, and ensure operations run more smoothly overall.
For example, maintaining relationships with waste haulers can help improve waste and recycling program efficiencies, while leveraging members of a green team can help align your business to make recommendations and improvements throughout the building as it relates to sustainability. On the other hand, working with the procurement team to incorporate eco-friendly purchasing into company-wide processes, such as by buying higher-quality products to increase the lifecycle of products so less get thrown away, can significantly reduce landfill waste and save money while conserving energy and natural resources. Another piece of good news about integrating sustainability across various stakeholder’s strategies is that most employees support and want to be involved in these initiatives. Proof of this sentiment is found in a recent study that deduced nearly 70 percent of people’s decision to stay with a company long-term was based on if a company had a strong sustainability plan. Luckily, that means more hands on deck to support eco-friendly changes to building and company operations.
4. Evolve Waste and Recycling Operations
Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 75 percent of all waste that ends up in landfills is recyclable? This is a result of poor waste management and inefficient recycling practices that lead to contamination, which can also incur high waste costs for your business if not kept in check. Two primary ways to improve your waste management and operations is by evaluating your waste and recycling contract and streamlining recycling and tonnage reporting. Working with your service provider or with a 3rd party hauler can help you identify erroneous or unfair charges as well as unexpected service fees on your waste bill. For example, some businesses over-pay for equipment that is too large for their level of waste generation because their containers are being picked-up too frequently. On the other hand, some businesses experience overage charges from their waste haulers because they are using containers that are too small to handle their waste generation.
Additionally, an effective waste and recycling partner can also provide reports to help you evaluate your monthly recycling rates. Advanced reporting and monthly insights can help facility managers understand how to create and meet sustainability goals as well as identify areas for improvement across internal waste and recycling practices. At RoadRunner, our technology allows us to look for, and correct, erroneous charges from other haulers, ensuring businesses always know what’s going on with their waste bill. Our dedicated customer service team and account managers also provide customers with reporting, and work on their behalf to help them achieve maximum savings and recycling rates.
5. Evaluate your waste hauler schedule
Whether they know it or not, businesses may be paying for a service frequency they don't need. If your waste and recycling containers are empty, or only half full every week, this is costing your business money. Speak to your hauler about changing your collection schedule to meet your demand or work with a partner that can manage this relationship and make these requests on behalf of your business. Adjusting your pickup frequency is just one way to make a significant impact on your bottom line.
Creating a service calendar that maps out the collection schedule of your waste container(s) can go a long way in keeping your team organized, so you're always prepared for conflicts ahead of time. Once you've identified the correct service frequency, be sure to clearly communicate any pickup schedule restrictions to your hauler, including business closures and upcoming holidays. It's also important to speak with your hauler about managing missed pickups and how that will be communicated to you. By taking these actions ahead of time, you are ensuring smooth operations and overall efficiency.
6. Optimize Your Equipment
When it comes to waste and recycling containers, choosing the right ones will go a long way in driving cost savings. Not only will optimizing your equipment with quality top of mind help it last longer, but ensuring you have the proper container sizes to accommodate your waste generation can also lower operational costs. Don’t hesitate to work with service providers for the best options based on your company's waste and recycling needs. They can help you determine the number of bins needed for indoor and outdoor placement, and which types (lidded or unlidded, various sizes) will be best suited for your operations.
As a facilities manager, you know that every day brings with it a new set of challenges and opportunities, all which demand a variety of innovative solutions. By incorporating the ideas outlined in this post, you have the chance to take action within the building you manage to not only streamline operations and inspire employees to support these initiatives, but also to improve overall sustainability while cutting costs. A Nielsen report found that, globally, 73 percent of millennial consumers are willing to spend more on products and services if they come from sustainable brands. So, are you ready to get started? Leave us a comment to let us know how you plan to increase the efficiency of your facility or reach out to us here with any questions! Thanks for reading.