Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness

Safety Considerations about Earth Day

Eco EarthKTLA News ran a story on Earth Day 2013 about the risks associated with recycling car seats. Dogs don’t require car seats. But I’ve seen a few canines use them, which is utterly embarrassing, if you ask me. Although ecological experts recommend taking steps to reuse whatever, whenever and wherever possible to protect the earth’s natural resources, there are several instances when safety concerns should reshape the desire to save Planet Earth. It’s great to reuse, restore and recycle. But make sure you recycle instead of reusing whenever safety is a concern. Here are a few items that require special attention for safe recycling:

Car Seats— a Wisconsin EMS Specialist Kathy Bruckbauer describes car seat recycling guidelines like this: “The older car seats tend to crack and break, making them unsafe for your children. If the car seat is over six years old, has been recalled by the manufacturer, has ever been in a crash, or has missing or broken parts, you should just recycle it and not use it.”

In Los Angeles County, 130,000 babies are born each year. And according to facts provided by The Dog Rescuers, eight million dogs and cats enter shelters in the U.S. each year. KTLA Reporter Gayle Anderson reports that a large number of old child safety seats are thrown away, when they should instead be recycled.  Recycling child safety seats will help protect the environment and keep large amounts of potentially toxic plastic chemicals out of local landfills.

Thanks to the Child Safety Seat Recycling Project, organized by SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., the Pomona Police Department, and TMC Horizon Inc. Recycling Center in Pomona, LA County residents can recycle old, damaged, or expired child safety seats, which may not provide the best protection to children during a crash and therefore, need to be destroyed rather than reused.

Batteries—common household batteries, such as AAs, AAAs, Cs, Ds and 9-volts are not thought to pose as great a threat to properly equipped modern landfills as they once were, thanks in part to the fact they contain far less mercury than their predecessors. As a result, most municipalities recommend throwing the batteries away with your trash.

Nevertheless, environmentally-minded consumers might feel better recycling such batteries, since trace amounts of mercury and other potentially toxic materials in each and every battery, no matter the mindset of the manufacturer. Some hazardous waste centers accept batteries which they send to be processed and recycled. Call your local trash collection center to find out if they take batteries. Or you can mail your old batteries to be recycled by Battery Solutions. Although I don’t eat old batteries, I’ve heard of some dogs and cats licking the acid off of old batteries at the dump. And that’s a really bad idea.

Light Bulbs—a story in the Los Angeles Times pointed out that light bulbs cannot be placed in standard recycling bins for curbside pickup. Incandescent bulbs, however, can be tossed into the trash bins, while fluorescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are considered household hazardous waste because they contain mercury or other hazardous materials, and must be taken to a disposal facility or S.A.F.E. Center because they may contain mercury and/or other hazardous materials. Again, not great for eating whether you’re a human or a dog.

To find out where you can safely dispose of light bulbs in your area, contact the waste management facility in your town.

Most important is buying cost effective recycling bulbs in the future. If you’re unfamiliar with newer bulb models, the lighting aisle at your local home improvement store can be a bit intimidating at first. Which bulb is the most cost effective? Which works better? And most importantly, which will save the most energy? For a quick tutorial about environmentally-friendly bulbs, check out this simple tutorial on the EnergyStar.gov website. I just use natural light in my doghouse. It’s cost effective and energy efficient!

Overall, when it comes to recycling anything, make sure that safety is your number one priority. 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, 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 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.