Sustainability 101

5 Things Every Building Manager/Owner Should Do

You have a large building to run and too many things to do.  Here’s a handy list of 5 actions you should do, at least once a year.

1) Renegotiate your contacts, competitively bid for crucial services especially waste hauling.

Things change – market forces, regulations, tenants, etc.  Take the time to review and renew your contracts, especially when dealing with waste hauling. One company we worked with did not realize they were being double billed (paying for two dumpsters instead of one). Another was able to negotiate lower hauler fees because of a rise in the value of recyclables. The city of Yorktown, New York, was able to save over $1 million by reexamining their trash and recycling bid process.

2) Check compliance

Laws change so make sure you are up-to-date and in compliance with your applicable codes and policies. For example, many properties in New York are still NOT aware that there are rules governing the disposal of universal and e-waste. We have seen a few successful LED relamping projects that have run into problems because the properties involved did not make arrangements for the proper disposal of their old, mercury-filled light fixtures. Just leaving it to contractors to deal with the waste will not always solve the problem since some of them are not aware of the compliance issues buildings face.  This happened to one major national department store.  Their mistake landed them in legal hot water and they faced huge fines as a result.

3) Connect with tenants

Promoting building-wide sustainability is a two-way street. Building owners and managers need tenant buy-in for their sustainable programs to work. Unless there is 100% automation throughout a building, even the best green technology will fall short. So visit your tenants to find out how they work, and if they have any problems or questions about the building’s sustainability programs.  Tenant sustainability efforts add up to increased overall building sustainability and efficiency, and that’s a win-win for everyone working under the same roof. Related: Promoting sustainability through tenants.

4) Metrics

Review and analyze your energy and water use, and waste and recycling results to see where improvements can be made. Having a good set of metrics will give you a clearer idea of how your building is operating, and what your goals can and should be. Remember that data is also needed to file for ENERGY STAR and other certification. You may need to gather additional your data from various sources and vendors, including tenants, who might contract for their utilities separately.

5) Review your sustainability policies

Policies often get created and then ignored. For example, review your waste management policy each year to ensure your staff is following procedures correctly and that any tracking methods are being maintained.  If there has been a change in your operations in the past year, it may very well impact your waste streams and require edits to the policy. Or you may find that procedures in your policy may not be working as intended or goals are not being reached. Reassess those goals and procedures at least once a year to ensure that your operations not only maintain a high green standard but also keep improving based on lessons learned.

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