Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Going Green, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Workplace Safety

Happy Building Safety Month

the house and rescue

Founded by the International Code Council (ICC), Building Safety Month (BSM) is celebrated during the month of May. So: Happy Building Safety Month from all of us at RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services!

A public awareness campaign offered each year to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create and sustain safe and sustainable structures, Building Safety Month was created to reinforce the important need for industry professionals to adopt modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce. I’m not sure if my doghouse was built to code.

Building codes are important safeguards designed to protect citizens from avoidable tragedies like fires, weather-related events and structural collapse. Model building codes are arguably the best way to protect homes, offices, and schools, manufacturing facilities, stores and entertainment venues. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Overseeing the introduction and implementation of such codes, the International Code Council is made up of a diverse group of professionals from industries including construction, design and safety. Corporations, government agencies, professional associations and nonprofit organizations support the annual May campaign in order to highlight the need for safe and sustainable structures where each of us live, work and play.

The ICC and its 50,000 worldwide members have made significant advances relative to the safe construction of building homes, apartment buildings, office structures and high rises—making sure that every new building is sustainable, affordable and resilient. I’m pretty sure my doghouse isn’t sustainable. On a hot day, I can smell toxic tar melting. This year’s theme is “Building Safety Month: Code Officials Keep You Safe.”

Throughout May, mini-themes will focus on particular areas of importance:

Week One / May 6-12, 2013
Fire Safety and Awareness (This theme holds a special place in my firedog heart.)

Week Two / May 13-19, 2013
Disaster Safety and Mitigation

Week Three / May 20-26, 2013
Backyard and Pool Safety

Week Four / May 27-31, 2013
Energy and Green Building

If you’d like to actively participate in BSM, there are a host of resources at your disposal; courtesy of the ICC. Resources include strategies on how to set up a Building Safety Month event, a fill-in-the-blank press release, a sample proclamation, kid’s activity pages, stickers, brochures, pencils and more. I wonder why they don’t give away dog bones. Just a suggestion…

Some resources are available for free download and others may be purchased from the ICC Store.

Here are some more ideas for active participation in Building Safety Month:

  1. Promote Building Safety Month in your community.
  2. Promote BSM through your Chapter activities.
  3. Set up an information booth at your city hall or a place of business such as a local hardware store.
  4. Visit a school and give a presentation about building safety.
  5. Post local information on your website.
  6. Send a news release to newspapers, and radio and television stations.
  7. Encourage local media to cover Building Safety Month activities.
  8. Send public service announcements to local radio and television stations.
  9. Public information officers, city managers, or mayors could also arrange to appear on a talk/community information show through local television or radio stations.
  10. Donate bacon to your local firehouse for the Dalmatian on duty. (I can guarantee you he or she will love it!)

If you’re about to embark on construction of a new building or home, try to remember that building codes are not arbitrarily established to make your life difficult. They are designed to keep you and everyone who visits your structure safe and sound.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in Going Green, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Version 2.5

What does it really mean to go green?

A hot topic among property owners and managers is “going green.” But what does that phrase really mean? Is Kermit the Frog’s song: It’s not easy being green about saving the planet? I’ve always wondered. How can you achieve the goal of practicing energy-efficient standards to protect and improve the environment? And can you “go green” without breaking the bank?

As a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), we at RJWestmore are committed to sustainability. So we would like to offer a few explanations and suggestions for property managers and building owners to help sort through all of the hype.

  • What does that phrase “going green” really mean? Is it anything like “seeing red?”

The folks at Earth Care say “going green” means using various alternatives to help save energy and the environment. This is a very broad definition because the practice of energy conservation and environmental protection is evolving. At first, just the invention of a few crazy hippies in the 1970s, the environmental movement is now big business. I have a few hippie K9 friends who rebel against conventions like dog collars and eating out of bowls. I’m more of a traditionalist myself…as long as someone is willing to fill the bowl, I’m in.

Consider a recent story in The New York Times, which compared government subsidies to the gold rush, since developers of large-scale clean-energy projects are encouraged to cash in on stimulus spending by adopting green practices. The article discussed a ranch in San Louis Obispo wherein one million solar panels will provide enough power for 100,000 homes, at a cost of $1.6 billion. But subsidies are not limited to large corporations. Even homeowners can benefit from tax incentives like rebates for solar window installation and energy efficient appliances. I wonder if I should have solar panels installed in the doghouse.

  • How can you achieve the goal of practicing energy-efficient standards to protect and improve the environment?

What would it take for the Average Joe to convert his own business and/or property to a facility that is energy efficient? Start small. Wherever you are on your sustainability journey, many options are available for improving performance. You needn’t hire a contractor to rip out all of your walls, ceilings and floors and replace the roof, lighting and parking structure all at once. Instead, find a sustainability consultant and ask what you can conservatively do to reduce your property’s carbon footprint. And while you’re at it, find out how to reduce your puppy’s paw prints. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

  • Is it possible to “go green” without breaking the bank?

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And so it goes with going green. Simple things like starting a recycling program or switching from plastic plates in the cafeteria to eco-friendly products will effectively help save the planet. Many such actions and products are so simple and affordable; you’ll wonder why you didn’t use them all along.

One of the best ways to get going in the right direction is to join existing groups that promote earth-friendly construction. The US Green Building Council is one such organization, which is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. The council’s community of leaders is working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation through programs such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which is redefining the way people think about the places where we live, work and learn. The only lead-generation I need is the scent of bacon and I’ll be on the trail.

An internationally recognized mark of excellence, LEED is a system which provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green-building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. What’s more, the LEED system is set up to evaluate new construction, existing buildings including operations and maintenance, commercial interiors, cores and shells, doghouses, schools, retail, healthcare, homes and neighborhood development. If you own or manage a facility that would benefit from a LEED-rating evaluation, contact the USGBC today.

When disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Going Green, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Second Line of Response

Cartoon Oil Dripping
Second Responders do a lot of the dirty work following disasters.

 

Throughout our disaster planning and prevention blog posts, we often focus on the safety and actions of first responders. For example, we suggest proactively working with the fire department when the schematics of your building change or to get their advice about the best way to implement cutting-edge safety measures. Understandably, first responders also get lots of press due to the inherent danger of their jobs. I’ve been on some four-alarm fire calls with these braves gals and guys. And it’s some serious work! Firefighters and EMS personnel rush directly into dire circumstances just as everyone else is racing out.

 

For large scale disasters, after the first responders do their high-profile jobs, significant hazards remain which must be dealt with, properly cleaned or contained, or even rebuilt. This is where second responders come in. From cleaning oil spills and radioactive waste to assessing the safety of bridges, second responders serve a vital role by bringing communities back from disasters.

Second responders face multiple challenges:

  • In many instances, the job of the second responder is considerably less glamorous than that of the first people to arrive on scene who are seen battling blazes and pulling people from piles of debris. It’s important to publicly recognize the work of second responders to be sure they feel appreciated. And just a pat on the head won’t cut it! These industrious folks aren’t pooches, you know!
  • Second responders who participated in Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts were met by the health hazards from standing water, including mold and bacteria exposure and hordes of insects. That doesn’t sound fun. My water bowl gets bugs in it sometimes; I just consider them a high-protein, low-carb snack.
  • After earthquakes, trained engineers need to enter precarious buildings to test structures to determine if they can be repaired or need to be demolished. For example, buildings in New Zealand are being used as test specimens to give an up-close view on earthquake damage.
  • Air quality issues are a considerable issue which harmed second responders following the 9/11 attacks, to Katrina, and the California wildfires. Second responders need proper filtration and breathing equipment in order to be safe.
  • Proper hygiene and disease prevention following emergencies are priorities for second responders who work to prevent outbreaks that are especially common when survivors are grouped together in cramped temporary quarters. Speaking of cramped, the guys went to Vegas for a week, and left me at a kennel. I had a terrible case of kennel cough when they returned because we had been packed in there like sardines!

Keep in mind that there are multiple types of people and jobs which fall into the “second responders” category. After some disasters, social workers and counselors are part of very important response units that can help mend broken families and allow people an outlet for expressing frustration or anguish. There are also categories of second responders who serve over a longer period of time. For instance, there is a group called the Lambi Fund of Haiti Earthquake Recovery which is a planning on civic rebuilding and growth of the nation after the major relief organizations have moved onto the next disaster.

A focus on second responders can be an eye-opening experience into the long-term effects of major disasters. It builds an understanding that there is more to emergency management than literally saving lives in the moment, but also a need to rebuild so those who are saved have a place to call home. On a side note, everyone deserves a good home, so donate to your local pet rescue facility today!

Proper planning and learning the “Do’s” are the keys to managing the situation when disasters strike.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Going Green, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Identity Theft, Influenza, Swine Flu, Travel, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Winter Weather Hazards

11 Safety Tips for 2011: How to BE SAFE in the Coming Year

 

road sign with with "2010" red-lined and "2011" with an arrow
BE SAFE in 2011
  1. Be prepared…for everything and anything! At home and at work, the most important step you can take to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of coworkers, employees, family and friends, is to prepare. For ideas, look to FEMA’s recently announced “Resolve to be Ready in 2011” campaign, which features several suggestions for disaster preparedness. What’s more, our own blog posts provide food for fodder. And, as everyone knows, I love food of any kind…fodder or otherwise.
  2. Drill. A timely example of how preparation is critical for saving lives occurred at a San Antonio CPS office building which caught fire on December 20.  According to news’ reports, all 400 of the building’s occupants were forced to evacuate the building before 9 a.m., at which point the company’s emergency evacuation plans were put into effect. No doubt benefiting from the safety plan and associated regular fire drills, preparation paid off as every employee escaped without injury. I’m a big fan of drills, myself. But the guys at the firehouse didn’t appreciate the Chinese Fire Drill I started when we were on a recent call.
  3. Protect yourself from cyber-terrorism. As we rely more and more on all things electronic, we must be diligent to guard ourselves against identity theft. Four out of five victims of Identity Theft encounter serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time. So protect your Internet passwords by creating them randomly and changing them frequently. This isn’t a huge risk for me, personally, since I don’t have opposable thumbs.
  4. Guard against health risks. Although the flood of sensational news’ stories about Cholera, the Swine Flu and SARS have ebbed, you still run the risk of contracting viruses and bacteria if you fail to take precautions to remain healthy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands (or paws, whatever the case.) Also, take advantage of vaccinations designed to protect you against illnesses such as Influenza or Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  5. Consider your location. Since different types of disasters occur depending on your location, pay attention to geography and history when you prepare for natural or man-made disasters. If you live on the coast, for example, plan for tsunamis. If you get snow, make winterizing a priority. If you live near a fault line, make sure you are ready for earthquakes. No matter where you live, you should probably stock up on kibble and rawhide chews.
  6. Heed storm warnings. While some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, come without warning, many others are relatively easy to predict. So, if you live in an area where hurricanes or tornadoes are common, follow forecasts. And when an event is anticipated, take necessary steps to ensure your own safety as well as that of emergency workers, who might be put in harm’s way if they have to brave the elements in order to rescue you. In other words, don’t sit on your roof in a flood. This is especially true if you live in a doghouse.
  7. Do the right thing. Don’t cut corners. Take a cue from the recent Shanghai Fire, which some believe resulted from contractors who cut corners. Applicable to all areas of life, doing what’s right will help keep everyone safe in 2011 and beyond.
  8. Go green. You don’t have to be a hippie to understand the importance of protecting our planet. Today, millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead. This practice puts us all at risk. So do your part this year to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. You can start by sharing your leftovers instead of throwing them away. Every little bit helps! So I’ll do my part to reduce the refuse.
  9. Travel safely. Try to be patient if you fly. While it might be inconvenient to take off your belt, shoes and jewelry at the security gate, and possibly undergoing a TSA pat-down, these safety measures are in place to keep us safe.
  10. Fight fire with fire prevention. The surest way to fight fire is to prevent it. The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week each year since the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago in 1871. This year’s push is to install smoke alarms. So if you haven’t installed them in your commercial property building or at home, do so today!
  11. Keep learning. Our corporate mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” The RJWestmore Training System 2.0 is a fully integrated system which allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

If you own or manage commercial property, by enrolling in the system, please consider our system, which trains occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. What’s more; all user training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. We hope you’ll allow us to do our part to help keep you safe in 2011 and beyond.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Going Green, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized

E-Waste Issues

It's an Electronics' World After All

Part 5 in a 5-part series

We have come to the fifth and final blog topic for our series about green initiatives for office buildings. Previously, we have discussed green roofs and living walls, implementing tenant recycling, enhancing energy efficiency of HVAC systems and the importance of water conservation. And as far as water conservation goes, I maintain the most important watering concern for anyone is keeping the dog’s bowl full at all times.

Today, we are going to explore environmentally-sound electronics practices in the workplace. We’ll cover the problems associated with discarded electronic waste and ways that you and your tenants can employ smart electronics usage practices to save energy and money.

The problem with e-waste

  • According to the EPA, more than 2.25 million tons of televisions, computers, monitors, keyboards, and peripherals were tossed into landfills. I just don’t get the attraction to staring at a screen. But humans seem to really enjoy it. My advice is to turn all of it off and go for a nice, long walk.
  • Electronics use precious materials such as copper, aluminum and even gold.
  • Millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead. See what I mean? Turn the things off!

The solution for handling e-waste

  • Team up with a reputable electronics recycling company and educate tenants on the environmental impacts of proper recycling practices.
  • Purchase products that do not have “planned obsolescence.” That is a fancy way of saying that you shouldn’t buy things that have a limited shelf life. Buy stuff that lasts.
  • Simplify. Making due with less is something our ancestors did out of necessity. Try to remember that the more you have, the more you have to take care of, store, clean and repair. Sometimes, less is more. The more my wife and I give our son, RJ, the more he has to bury.
  • Encourage tenants to turn off computers and printers when leaving for the day.
    • Electronics should be on a power strip with an on/off switch, otherwise electronics can continue to draw power when turned off as long as they are plugged into an active power supply. I once knew a Chihuahua who bit into the plugged-in cord for a curling iron. Although he survived the experience, the sight of him biting into a live wire haunts me to this day!
    • PCs and monitors have a finite life relative to the number of hours they are turned on.
    • Computers and other electronics produce heat, which can unnecessarily increase the cooling load of offices. I have found that this is true of practically anything in heat.
  • Use products that have been labeled with the Energy Star endorsement:
    • Encourage tenants to purchase energy-efficient computers and appliances.
    • Energy Star products use less energy. For even small-sized office buildings, this translates to substantial annual energy savings. The window-unit on our doghouse does a good job cooling our entire living space.
    • Note that no two products are identical. One Energy Star-certified product can use less than another Energy-Star model. Learn how to read labeling carefully so that you can select the most efficient products.
  • Cell phones:
    • Some tenants assign cell phone devices for every employee. Cell phone technology changes very rapidly and companies often end up swapping out old phones for models with the latest functionality.
    • Phones can be recycled with other electronics or they can be donated.
  • Toner cartridges:
    • Distribute information to tenants about the benefits of recycling printer cartridges. Improvements in manufacturing processes enable remanufactured cartridges to print images equal in quality to those produced by new cartridges.
    • Most toner ink is petroleum-based, and can emit volatile compounds when used. Encourage tenants to use soy-based cartridges to cut down on indoor air pollution. But shy away from the soy-based doggie treats. I prefer beef-based, myself.

When it comes to office electronics, it’s important to remember the green slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” By observing this practice, it is entirely possible to drastically reduce the amount of items used. Encourage tenants to delay purchasing new equipment as long as current electronics work properly. Reusing toner cartridges and cell phones puts less of a strain on natural resources. And recycling keeps electronic waste out of our landfills!

Thanks for reading our series about strategies for maintaining green commercial and residential properties. Remember that beyond the environmental and social benefits, green initiatives can result in real cost savings for building owners and tenants. And a penny saved is one you can put towards buying gourmet dog food.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Going Green, Uncategorized

Waste not, want not.

Every Drop Counts!

This is part 4 of a 5-part series.

So far in our series of green initiatives for office buildings, we have discussed the benefits of installing green roofs and living walls, implementing tenant recycling, and enhancing energy efficiency of HVAC systems. Today, we are going to take a look at what is arguably our planet’s most abundant and precious resource—water. I’m not just talking about the little metal drinking bowlful that I get! Buildings use a lot of water in many different ways!

As with other green improvements, focusing on water conservation might require considerable upfront costs. But these can easily be recouped. Simple fixes can pay immediate dividends. For example, a leaking faucet can release up to 1,000 gallons of water every week, which will add up to savings of $300 a year. A 10-story building could have 50-100 faucets. That wasted water really adds up!

For today’s discussion, we are focusing on water conservation efforts for tenants in “typical” office settings, instead of businesses that use large amounts of water in manufacturing processes.

Some water conservation changes could also potentially provide the extra benefit of tax advantages. Be sure to check with your accounting firm for information about possible state or federal credits.

Since most large buildings use thousands of gallons of water every day, let’s explore some of the ways that you can ensure you use those gallons wisely:

  • Piping and Water Systems:
    • Ensure hot water pipes are properly insulated for increased efficiency.
    • Perform an inspection of all water pipes to uncover leaks which not only waste water but can also cause problems such as rot or mold growth.
    • Check water pressure to make sure is the gauge is not set higher than necessary. Install water pressure regulators, if needed.
  • Bathroom Water Conservation:
    • Installation of low-flow toilets, which can reduce water requirements from about 4.5 gallons per flush to 1.6 gallons. I just “go” on the landscaping. Talk about reusing water!
    • Faucets should be continuously monitored for leaks. And tenants should be asked to report problems to their facility management team. Faucets can be replaced with lower-flow models which can save water without inconveniencing tenants.
    • Urinals can be changed to automatic flush models.
    • Close the lid unless you want Fido to recycle your toilet water, himself. Personally, I prefer unclaimed water.
  • Landscaping:
    • Choosing the right plants for your climate zone can reduce irrigation needs substantially.
    • Consider xeriscaping some landscape areas. This is particularly important for offices located in the Southwest, where large expanses of green lawn are water wasters! As much as we dogs love to run on grass, some sand is just fine. Just let us know in advance if you’ve planted any cactus.
    • Install rain sensors so sprinklers are turned off when they are not needed.
    • Adjust the irrigation schedule for seasonal sun and rain patterns.
  • Graywater Treatment Systems:
    • Systems collect untreated wastewater from bathroom and kitchen sinks and, in some instances, clothes washers.
    • Collected water is integrated into landscaping irrigation.
    • Proper signage is important to keep people (especially splashing children) away from recycled water. Maybe consider installing a fence to keep pooches out.
  • Train tenants and their employees to follow sound water usage practices:
    • Limit dishwasher usage by running only full loads.
    • If the offices have shower facilities, encourage employees to limit shower times.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance:
    • Instruct your maintenance staff to use sweeping or other methods to clean sidewalks or patios, instead of spraying water.
    • Cleaning crews should manage water usage properly.
  • Don’t wash your dog:
    • You know me and my pals hate the garden hose! Take us to the groomer or just leave us alone. A little dirt never hurt anybody.

Water conservation can be achieved through changes to physical processes and materials as well as adjustments to tenant and maintenance personnel behaviors. An important step in the process is to keep track of your water usage before and after changes are implemented, so you and your facilities’ team can see the long-term savings in actual dollars. I use a spreadsheet to track the critters I chase and a corresponding score for each critter type. It’s wonderful to see my long-term successes!

Visit us next week for the final entry in our 5-part series about strategies for maintaining green commercial and residential properties. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact the good people at RJ Westmore, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Going Green, Uncategorized

Going Green with HVAC

Go Green with HVAC

Part 3 in a Series

While we are not experts at HVAC, here are some basic tips. For more information, please contact your HVAC professional.

Woof! I’m sorry, I can’t contain my excitement when talking about all the ways building owners can help the environment!

In previous posts in this series about going green, we’ve discussed green roofs and recycling programs. Today we are looking at more “behind the scenes” ways you can reduce your building’s carbon footprint.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings account for 18 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. In a typical office building, energy use accounts for 30 percent of operating costs, which is the single biggest category of controllable costs.

Reducing energy usage can result in significant long-term reduction of building expenses, freeing up capital you could use for other improvements such as landscaping, painting, or doggy door installation.

Today’s blog covers ways you can improve your building’s HVAC and other systems to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Cut down on the need for heating and air conditioning:

  • Review building insulation and fill gaps with the most efficient materials.
  • Reduce the building’s “solar gain” by installing reflective roofing materials and tinted windows. These are especially important in buildings located in sunny climates.
  • Examine office equipment to make sure tenants use the latest technology that outputs a minimum of heat. Pay special attention to data centers which require substantial cooling. When I want to get cool, I simply run through some sprinklers, but I don’t think that works for server farms…
  • Simple solutions are best.
    • Encourage tenants to open blinds/curtains where feasible to let in warm sunlight.
    • Ask tenants to close/open windows to warm/cool office spaces before adjusting thermostats.
    • Can people pant? Not sure if that works for them?

Selecting and maintaining the heat and AC systems:

  • Review older systems against more efficient, modern units. For many buildings, the initial costs of a new system could be quickly recouped through energy savings. Talk to an HVAC specialist about potential savings. Now if I could just get a ventilation system installed in our doghouse…
  • Don’t purchase a system that is too big for your building. Your installer can do tests to make sure the “load” is met for recommended units in your building.
  • Consider dehumidification systems for humid climates and evaporative coolers in dry climates. As the saying goes, “It’s not the heat. It’s the humidity.” I personally contend it can be both – I do have a lot of fur and let me tell you; it doesn’t keep you cool!
  • Install quality control systems:
    • Programmable thermostats are important for reducing heating/cooling during off hours. Check with facility managers to be sure thermostats are set to the right temperature.
    • Multiple zones are essential for multi-room and floor buildings. Tenants have varying needs. Some might have 20 employees working in one space, while others might have only a few employees who work in small, individual offices. If you can “bring a pooch” to work, then you need to account for that extra body heat, as well.
    • CO2 sensors dynamically adjust heating/cooling by measuring CO2 amounts.

Proper maintenance:

  • As with all mechanical systems, proper maintenance can extend life and performance.
  • Replace air filters frequently with high quality filters.
  • Inspect all ductwork and piping for any leaks, which can contribute to heat/cooling losses.
  • Check thermostat function to make sure everything is performing as it should.

Beyond the benefits to the planet and your profits, improving your building’s HVAC systems will lead to comfortable, content tenants. This is great because no one likes to hear disgruntled employees complain about being too hot or cold. When JR gets just a chill, he starts barking up a storm! And an unhappy employer is a tenant who might not renew his lease in your building! Modern HVAC systems are designed to provide controlled temperatures at maximum comfort.

Visit us next week for part 4 in our series about strategies for maintaining green commercial and residential property.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact my pals at RJ Westmore, Inc. Their e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Going Green, Uncategorized

Get Tenants Involved in Recycling

Recycle

Last week we talked about literally including green in residential and commercial properties, with features like vegetative roofs and walls. Our topic today is one of the first things many people think about when they think about going green. And no, I don’t mean running in the grass chasing a Frisbee! I’m talking about recycling!

Helping your tenants recycle can be an important step in reducing your building’s carbon footprint. Why can’t they call it a carbon pawprint? The first step to take before establishing a comprehensive program is to realize that any successful, long-term recycling program will require consistent encouragement and ongoing education.

Follow these steps to get your tenants and residents on the road to recycling:

  • Determine the type of materials that will be recycled, given your type of tenant:
    • If you want, you can take it slow. Start by recycling paper products and expand the program over time. For example, if an employee has a puppy, why not let him take home some newspapers for potty training!
    • Choose a company to collect recycled materials:
      • You may need to enlist more than one firm if you have tenants who produce several types of refuse. Perhaps some tenants use pallets or unique packing materials that would require a specialty recycling company.
      • Establish recycling protocols and procedures:
        • Place bins in each tenant’s office
        • Bins should be situated near garbage cans and printer/document rooms
        • If tenants have a lenient bring-a-pet policy, then include a bin for treats
        • Tenants should be taught about which types of materials are recyclable as well as those that are not suitable for recycling.
        • Integrate document shredding:
          • Document security is essential for residents of apartment buildings as well as commercial property tenants. Offering commercial-grade shredding machines onsite will give everyone peace of mind about safeguarding important data. You could hire a group of canines to chew up your old papers, but think of the mess…
          • Make it easy to destroy sensitive documents and collect paper recycling at the same time. Tenants should educate their own employees about procedures for shredding data protection.
          • Encourage long-term participation:
            • Check in with tenant management frequently to ensure recycling procedures are being followed. Work together to offer new inducements to employees to reward their green efforts. Just like giving Rover a treat when he sits up!
            • Get management involved and excited about recycling:
              • Consider a tenant lunch to discuss the program.
              • Encourage commercial tenants to offer incentives to employees for participating in recycling efforts.

Establishing a tenant recycling program is not only environmentally-friendly, it can also be a selling point for new tenants that care about green practices. Implementing a variety of green initiatives can help you maximize occupancy and rental rates in a tight market.

Visit us next week for part 3 in our series about strategies for going green. Perhaps it will be an in-depth discussion on how felines are secretly trying to control the world economy?

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Going Green, Uncategorized

Greenscaping Office Buildings

Go Green Today!

It’s time to get “green!” This is the first in a series of blogs about how building owners and tenants can embrace green policies in a variety of areas. When I want to get “green,” I tear into a package of Greenies! They keep my chompers looking sparkly!

This week we will examine trends including green roofs and “living walls,” which are becoming popular for aesthetic and economic reasons.

Green roofs for commercial buildings have substantial vegetation and a growing medium planted over some type of waterproof membrane. For the purposes of today’s blog, we are talking about green roofs or living walls which have vegetation, not those with other  green feature such as solar panels or dog runs.

Green roofs are low maintenance as well as attractive (sounds like a canine I know…), whether the green space covers the entire roof or just a portion of a rooftop garden area. Through proper planning, a green roof can become a place for tenants to enjoy the natural environment in a private atmosphere. Some green walls also feature edible plants, which give tenants a free source of snacks and great conversation starters.

Your facility management team should work closely with the green-roofing installation team to ensure that the building—

  • Plantings receive adequate yearly sunlight
  • Roof system has enough structural integrity to handle the increased weight of plants, soil, and patio or structural garden elements. The company you select to install the plants should also account for the dramatic weight differences between wet and dry soil. I don’t mind the weight differences of wet and dry food – they are both satisfying!
  • Provides the best for the climate zone and amount of sunlight for the varieties you want to plant.

Benefits abound if you choose to plant vegetation on roofs and walls:

  • Increased air quality of the surrounding area. Some living wall structures can be integrated into a building’s air circulation system, effectively “scrubbing” the air.
  • Provides a natural habitat for birds and other animal life. Oh please, let there be squirrels I can chase!
  • Selling point for tenants who appreciate ecologically-friendly buildings
  • Storm water control, including a reduction in contaminants in rainwater runoff
  • “Greywater” can be used in some building-designs to water plants
  • Energy savings provide a buffer between the ambient temperature and the roof’s insulation. Living walls can also provide shade.
  • Life of the roof materials benefit from ultraviolet protection, allowing vegetative roof membranes to last longer than conventional materials
  • Wellness and aesthetic appeal – tenants will benefit from exposure to more natural surroundings. Why do you think I love going on walks in the park?

Admittedly, potential disadvantages to green roofs and living walls should be considered prior to installation.

  • Maintenance issues, such as pruning of vegetation and ensuring HVAC systems still function properly. Living walls require frequent attention to support structures and plant life.
  • Increased short-term costs, compared to traditional roofs
  • Nature might intrude too much. Vegetation could attract birds or harmful insects to the area. Just ignore those squirrels – okay?

Green roofs and living walls can provide tangible benefits for building owners and tenants. In this tight leasing market, offering green features could be what sets your building apart from property owners and managers who offer more traditional office space.

Visit us next week for part 2 in our series about green property strategies.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact some of the “greenest” folks I know, at RJ Westmore. Their e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.