Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare

Floor Warden Fire Dog Facts

Floor Wardens help during emergency evacuations

All of our training emphasizes how tenants and building management need to work together as a unit to ensure safety. In the event of fire or other emergencies, a fast and orderly evacuation can save lives.

Although our dog house evacuation is simple…grab the bone and run, buildings with tenants of 10 or more employees are required by OSHA to have an emergency action plan to help ensure tenant safety during disasters. The selection and training of Floor Wardens is an important part of any action plan.

Typical Duties of Floor Wardens:

  • Wardens and Alternative Wardens need to be familiar with every tenant and associated workspace location to ensure that no one is left behind in cases of emergency.
  • A clear understanding of the proper evacuation route and gathering place are essential for preventing panic. Your tenant’s Floor Wardens should practice walking the primary and backup emergency routes to avoid any mistakes that could result from stress. This is not unlike some of my canine companions who run around in circles chasing their tails when they’re stressed.
  • Floor Wardens will work with the building’s fire safety director to check off names of present employees and to note any who are missing following an evacuation.
  • Your tenant’s receptionists should keep logs of absent employees and visitors who are present and share the information with the proper Floor Warden.

Floor Warden Training:

  • Cross training of several tenant employees is important to account for Floor Wardens who may be absent during any given emergency or permanently leave their position with the company.
  • Special training or equipment should be given to Wardens who have tenant employees with disabilities that will require additional evacuation assistance. Your four-legged companions might find it difficult to descend escalators, for example. I’m not a fan of the things, myself, as my claws get caught in the tiny grooves.
  • Instructions should be given to Wardens on the location and usage of necessary equipment such as—flashlights, radios, whistles and rawhide treats.
  • Some tenants in large buildings might want to designate additional employees as stairwell and/or elevator monitors who will supervise safe and orderly evacuations. Floor Wardens should work closely with these monitors to keep track of employees and ensure they take the proper exit routes.

Benefits of the RJ Westmore Training System:

  • Our system offers real-time updates to Floor Warden lists, which can be viewed by building management
  • We send automatic annual reminders to each Warden for training renewal
  • Our system is fully integrated with the fire department to ensure Wardens, Fire Safety Directors and the local departments have the same occupancy data for every building
  • We record user training and testing for future reference.

While you can count on your pooch to bark before certain disasters like earthquakes and break-ins, fires and other emergencies often strike quickly and without warning. Through repetition of training and certification with our system, Floor Wardens will play an integral part in tenant safety by making sure no one is left behind in times of danger.

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 Disaster Preparedness, Uncategorized

If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck…retrieve!

If something doesn't look right, it probably isn't right.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, more attempted terrorist attacks against the U.S. have occurred in the past nine months than in any previous one-year period.

In our first two posts about terrorism-related issues, we covered the basics about dealing with the risks of terrorism and setting up surveillance networks. Our post today explores how individual tenants, building management and staff, and maybe even your pet can work together to identify suspicious activity.

As we often stress in our posts, safety begins with the individual. It is, ultimately, a matter of personal responsibility. For instance, for my canine friends, it’s not cool to pull your owner down the sidewalk while you chase a squirrel. The RJ Westmore, Inc. Training System emphasizes that everyone plays key roles in not only their own safety but also in ensuring the safety of those around them.

With the recent attempted bombing in Times Square, it was a T-shirt vendor who first identified and reported someone quickly walking away from a suspicious vehicle. According to the Department of Homeland Security, with more potential terrorists being carried out by Western operatives who are either U.S. citizens or here on visas, it is difficult for law enforcement to identify terrorist planning or “chatter.” Law enforcement officials are not omnipotent They need community involvement to help recognize red flags and suspicious behavior patterns. In my book, any gathering of two or more tabbies is suspicious activity; you never know what they could be scheming about!

Here are some examples of efforts that major metropolitan areas are using to engage the community in terrorism prevention:

  • New York City’s Operation Nexus is a nationwide network of more than 25,000 businesses that agree to share information about suspicious activity. Individuals at participating businesses agree to report the purchasing of materials or use of training that might indicate terrorist activity.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department’s iWatchLA is a community awareness program that encourages residents to identify behaviors that might indicate terrorist plotting:
    • Worrisome chemical smells or fumes located around important structures
    • Individuals asking for sensitive information such as VIP travel plans or building blueprints
    • Attempts to purchase potentially explosive material components, absent of proper certification or licensure
    • It’s not on their official list, but us pooches can be great alarm systems. Listen to us when we are barking like crazy!

What can you do as a building owner or manager?

  • Utilize RJ Westmore’s online training including its “resources” and “links” which offer a wealth of information about terrorism and dozens of other topics.
  • Encourage your tenants to learn the basics of identifying suspicious behavior (using community watch and DHS resources). Make sure they don’t hesitate when something doesn’t “look right.”
  • Set up protocols for tracking and reporting tenant or visitor alerts.. Any incident should be recorded and promptly shared with law enforcement. Sharing information is crucial to preventing future attacks.
  • Consider installing comfortable cedar chip-filled beds in sunny spots with accessible fresh water and a rawhide bar. Wait….what was I talking about again?
  • Consider the benefits of Universal Services of America, an RJ Westmore, Inc. strategic partner, who helps some of our clients with services including on-site and remote security systems as well as guards.

Visit us next week for the final post in our series about terrorism prevention. 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 Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized
Even amateur surveillance can reveal suspicious activity

This is Part 2 in a Series

Terrorism Surveillance: Keep Your Eyes Open

Our topic today is another serious one. So I’ll try to keep my tail in check and the dog-related puns to a minimum! A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security stated that attempted attacks on U.S. soil are at an all-time high. As a result, participation of private industry in surveillance has never been more important. The Obama Administration recently released its latest national security doctrine, which emphasized the need for monitoring potential threats to United States-based targets.

The installation of CCTV Security Systems is becoming more widespread throughout urban and suburban areas, creating a “net” of coverage to aid in both terrorism prevention and the speedy apprehension of suspects. CCTV of course means “Close Circuit Television,” which means you can’t watch Animal Planet on it. But, even so, as a property owner, you might consider installing a security system and establishing relationships with neighboring properties and law enforcement.

Our post today explores best practices for terrorism surveillance, including how to scan for and identify suspicious activity and what to do with the information you gather.

Security System Installation

  • Select a professional CCTV installation company, which can advise you on the number and location of security cameras.
  • New camera systems offer DVR, which affords clients with improved image storage and faster law enforcement review.

But the best camera system in the world is useless unless someone “knows what to look for.” Once your surveillance systems are in place, it’s important to educate your staff about how to identify potential threats.

Suspicious Activity could constitute “casing” of the building. Look for:

  • Individuals walking by the building repeatedly with no apparent purpose. Sometimes dogs do this. But it’s usually because we’re looking for a spot to mark.
  • Vehicles parked in unauthorized areas including loading zones or garage entrances
  • People trying to access restricted areas of the building

IT and information-related issues can be signs that your building is being targeted:

  • Terrorists who are scouting your location may do research. Be wary of:
    • Phone calls to your building asking for detailed tenant information or maps of the property
    • Website visitors from foreign internet connections repeatedly viewing your building’s website

Activities can indicate when an attack is imminent. Watch for:

  • Vehicles that come very close to the building past security barriers and then quickly depart
  • Individuals checking watches/cell phones frequently, and maintaining contact with other people who are located in various areas of the property

Cooperation with law enforcement and neighboring businesses:

  • Once security systems are in place, contact your local FBI office and police department to inform them of the system coverage and your willingness to help identify potential threats by reporting suspicious activity and sharing your surveillance footage.
  • Work with other businesses to discuss their surveillance tactics and share information about individuals or vehicles that have been behaving suspiciously.
  • If you correspond with the local fire department, put in a good word for me with their Dalmatian.

With any complex problem designed to identify and prevent terrorism, cooperation is key. The same goes with dog and owner. They cooperate by buying special treats, and we make sure we wag our tails when you come home! In the Times Square attempted bombing, a major lead about the bomber’s identity was obtained not from Times Square cameras but from shopping mall surveillance video that showed someone test-driving a suspicious vehicle. With a surveillance system in place, you can help foil terrorist attempts and play an important role in maintaining safety in your community.

Visit us next week for another post in our series about terrorism surveillance. 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 Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Power of Knowing Where to Go

New Mapping Features Aid RJ Westmore Clients

As the leader in emergency management training solutions, RJ Westmore, Inc. is continually improving its award-winning product. We have just introduced a new feature to our comprehensive program that assists emergency responders and improves tenant safety.

The integrated training system offers a dynamic home page for every commercial property owner who uses our product. The home page details important information for each property including:

  1. Required online courses to be completed
  2. Floor Warden reports
  3. Additional safety contact information
  4. Location of all nearby pet stores and dog parks (Well, at least I think that feature should be included.)

The latest feature on the building home page is our “View Map” link, which provides emergency responders with multiple views of an individual property and the surrounding area. The maps, of course, provide driving directions to the building. But, more importantly, they provide access to Google Earth 3-D views of the surrounding area. I could spend hours looking at Google Earth. Just last week I visited a jerky factory in Alabama and a tennis ball manufacturer in Guam, all from the comfort of my own doghouse!

Such detail prevents emergency responders from “flying blind” in emergencies. While en route, they will be able to assess the building’s best access points, so they won’t lose valuable time once they arrive. Access to real-time map information can also aid in running emergency drills. My version of an emergency drill includes a tree full of squirrels and…Never mind.

“View Map” Feature Available for Every Building

Emergency Personnel Have Access to 3D Maps While En Route

3-D View helps responders determine ideal tactics for dealing with emergencies and gives a sense of scale for the building and any surrounding structures. I have dreams for a 3-D model of my family’s new dog house. I envision multiple levels with flat screens, all tuned to “Animal Planet.”

This new map features is a perfect complement to other fire department integration features of Version 2.0 of our comprehensive safety training program.

  • Fire Departments have access to the RJ Westmore System clients in their particular city, viewable through an easy-to-navigate home page.
  • Department managers can monitor individual building testing and training of Floor Wardens and Fire Safety Directors.
  • I’m sure every firehouse dog peeks at the screen and barks his or her approval!

Additional Newer Features of Version 2.0

Real-time reporting with just one click:

  • Identify tenants who need special assistance in emergencies

Automated features:

  • The system automatically creates and sends certificates to each user
  • Annual reminders are sent to each user to ensure ongoing training compliance and optimal tenant safety

Improved confidentiality and system control:

  • Controlled information distribution, with multiple tiers of system access

The integrated map feature is the latest example of how the RJ Westmore Training System was built with dynamic flexibility. Online and integrated tools that bring together fire departments, facility management, and other entities, allow us to continually improve our system to meet tenants’ and property manager and owner needs. Now if only tenants would install doggie doors and tummy-rubbing stations, we’d be all set.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact the smart people over 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, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized

Terrible Twisters

Prepare so tornadoes don't take you unaware.

Few events put the power of nature on display like tornadoes. With the recent destructive tornadoes in the Midwest and South, it’s timely for all property owners to review tornado safety.

Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes appear quickly and do not follow any forecast-ed paths. Panic and confusion among tenants can set in unless prior planning and procedures have been established. Tornadoes are unlike other emergencies such as fires because tenants need to stay in the building during the emergency, and actually use the building for protection. My friend Scruffy says that his steel-reinforced doghouse is a good tornado shelter. I told him unless he plans to reenact The Wizard of Oz; he should probably go somewhere else…

Preparations Before a Storm Occurs

“Warning” or “Watch:” The first alert regarding tornadoes is a “tornado watch,” which simply means the conditions are right for tornadoes to form. A “tornado warning” means that a twister has either touched down or been spotted on meteorological radar. I’m waiting for a “bacon storm” to show up on radar one day, although that might just be an urban legend.

Warning System

  • Consider installing a warning system that works in conjunction with fire alarms. Make sure that tenants can easily identify the two types of warnings, so they can plan properly. Remember that outside sirens are not intended to be heard indoors. We pooches can hear them, but we don’t know how to tell you people to take cover!
  • Establish tracking and warning procedures so tenants have enough time to properly prepare for storms.

Physical Improvements

  • Shatter resistant glass, made of Plexiglass or acrylic substances, can greatly reduce the risk of flying debris including broken glass. This is especially important when tornadoes strike unexpectedly and tenants do not have time to move to the interior of the building.
  • Designate a building area as a tornado shelter. Make sure the area is large enough to accommodate all tenants including any pets. FEMA has guidelines on how to select the area in a building that is best suited for a shelter. If possible, investigate ways to reinforce the area through structural improvements, making sure to minimize the amount of materials/projectiles that are in the area.

During the Storm

Personal Safety and Evacuation:

  • Tenants should move away from windows and proceed to the interior of the building, moving to the lowest floors possible.
  • Instruct tenants to use stairs, as power to the elevators will very likely be out.
  • Tenants should be advised to cover their heads at all times in order to prevent injury from falling objects. I can’t really do this while trotting. Maybe someone could get me a hardhat?
  • Establishing safety procedures for employees who are physically disabled will save valuable time.

Lightning:

  • Tornadoes form around severe thunderstorms, which lead to lightning! If time permits, tenants should unplug sensitive computer and television equipment to prevent the risk of fire.

After the Storm

  • Listen to a NOAA weather radio or check websites to be sure there are no longer tornadoes or severe thunderstorms in the area. Remember you may be safer in a slightly damaged building than risking exposure to lightning!
  • Tenants should evacuate the building according to the designated evacuation plan.
  • Once outside, everyone should pay special attention to downed power lines and other dangerous debris.

For tornadoes and other emergencies, I always say that preparation is the first step toward ensuring tenant safety. Even though I try to lighten up my blog with jokes, I’m always serious about the need for planning for emergencies. Remember that proper respect for the power of nature can save lives.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact the smart people over 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 Health & Welfare, Uncategorized

All about OSHA

Building owners should view OSHA as an important partner instead of as an adversary.

Through the course of business, it is likely both tenants and building owners will eventually interact with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. While some employers or building owners might cringe upon hearing the word “OSHA,” most dogs don’t even know what it is. In any case, the agency offers benefits and safeguards for the workplace. In existence for 40 years, OSHA has played a critical role to ensure that workers are treated as important assets and are provided with reasonable safeguards from harm. In the fire dog world, our teeth provide us with reasonable safeguards from harm.

Building owners should view OSHA as an important partner instead of as an adversary. Most of my canine friends look at dog catchers as adversaries. But both agencies only mean to help. Compliance with OSHA regulations, even those that require capital spending, will result in tangible benefits. A clean compliance record can also be used as a selling point to help attract tenants who are rightly concerned about the safety of their employees. Most folks are weary about residing or working in a building that is known for receiving lots of citations.

History:

  • Established by Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970
  • Inconsistent enforcement during the administration’s early years resulted in criticism.
  • The agency first focused on enhancing the safety of physical machinery with retrofitting and other safety apparatuses.
  • During the Carter Administration, the focus was on hazards such as industrial chemicals.
  • The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush pushed to weaken the enforcement powers of OSHA, which included some voluntary compliance initiatives and other industry-friendly regulations.
  • The administration under President Clinton saw a marked increase in OSHA investigations and power.

OSHA’s Responsibilities:

  • Reviews ergonomic standards of businesses to prevent ergonomic-related injuries and stress such as carpal tunnel syndrome. I’ve never met a canine with carpal tunnel syndrome. Must be a human thing?
  • Conducts research and gathers data regarding workplace issues and tactics for minimizing safety risks.
  • Protects employees by alerting their employers about the existence of safety violations. In the neighborhood, we usually howl to alert neighbors about impending doom.
  • Performs inspections to ensure that employers are following health and safety regulations.

Benefits of compliance:

  • GAO studies on voluntary OSHA programs showed cost reductions in workers’ compensation premiums along with increases in overall workforce productivity.
  • Safe employees and office visitors are less likely to be injured at the workplace, resulting in decreased exposure to liability. Keeping folks and pups safe at the station is one of our highest priorities at the firehouse.
  • OSHA funds free consultations through many state agencies that will come to places of employment to identify safety risks.
  • Healthy employees utilize health care and insurance benefits less than those exposed to dangerous situations. Another option is to hire Dalmatians to work for you. We hardly ever file insurance claims.

Some criticisms have been levied at OSHA because of the low number of criminal prosecutions and severity of fines. It should be noted that many of the administration’s enforcement and penalties have been restricted in the past; however, recently, stiffer penalties were introduced. The Obama Administration is becoming more involved in investigations and working to keep pace with quickly emerging technology and processes used by a variety of employers.

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, 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.