Here again is my Top 10 list:
My Top Sustainable FM Trends for 2014
- Energy Efficiency
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Water Conservation
- Workplace Management
- Waste Management
- Materials and Resources
- Sustainable Services
- Site Impact & Landscaping
- Sustainable Roofing
Benefits of Sustainability
- Financial F
- Environmental E
- Social S
Her’s my final four:
7. Materials & Resources – Efs
- Green labeling – ask your vendors for it – there, that won’t cost you a dime. Make sure that the green or sustainable material labeling is certified by a thrid party and is not just an industry “rubber stamp” to make their products look green. Also, be sure to ask for MSDS, which list all the chemicals of products before allowing them in your facility
- Travel distance – seek local sources. Ghandi said it was a sin to buy something from someone farther away then from someone nearby. Maybe, but it certainly is better for the environment and your local economy to procure items locally than from half way around the world.
- Embedded Energy – this one gets a bit complex and I honestly don’t know how one calculates the total energy used to produce and deliver a product. Therefore, ask your supplier. If they don’t know, then ask another one. The information is out there, you just need to look for it.
- Food – I could (and maybe will soon) write an entire article on food for the workplace. In brief, look for sustainably grown (organic if possibe) food that is mininally procressed and produced as local as possible.
- Small, Diverse suppliers– simply put, diversity is good. We’ve all seen pictures of mass produced buildings (think suburban sprawl in this country or fomer Eastern Bloc concrete apartment buildings. You wouldn’t want to live in any of those, so why whould you want your employees to work in one? You may pay a bit more when you give some of your business to small suppliers, but most of that money will stay in the community verses Fortune 500 type companies that usually don’t have that local connection and 90% of their money typically goes elsewhere. Check out this great book that I read late last year, “The Unwinding: an Inner History of the New America”, for more examples about the benefits of small local suppliers.
- Employment practices – so you found a great deal on office chairs made halfway around the world. OK, how are they treating their workers? Is it consistent with your sustainability goals or even your “good corporate citizen” values?
- Cradle to Cradle – Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart and William McDonough changed the way that I thought about all products, not just those for the workplace. Essentially, we need to determine what will happen to products at the end of their initial intended useful life – reuse or re-purpose or have them biodegrade quickly rather than dumping them into landfills or worse, scattering them around the globe, swept under the rug for someone else to deal with.
- Natural (virgin) vs. recycled – we usually think that recycled materials are better than new ones. However, there are times that a sustainably produced new product is better than a recycled one. For example, when considering copy/print paper, how much embedded energy is used to use recycled content? Also, what chemicals are used for each process and where does it come from? See Items 2, 5 & 6 above.
8. Quality of Services (Sustainable Services) – Sef
9. Site Impact – Ef
- Landscape maintenance – look at the plants in your landscape: are they compatible with your climate? Also look at how you maintain them. Eliminate in-organic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, including Round-Up. Ask your landscape maintenance contractor for MSDS sheets for everything they use.
- Rainwater run-off is getting a lot of attention with new projects where Bio-Swells are becoming more common and even mandated as a means to limit and reduce rainwater run-off into urban and suburban sewer systems
- Road, sidewalk & parking surfaces – hard surfaces prevent absorption of rainwater and allows the oil and pollutants from autos and vehicles to easily enter the storm drainage systems, which usually flows and pollutes rivers, lakes and seas. When possible, use more permeable surfaces, such as crushed gravel, which work quite well for sidewalks.
- Exterior lighting – Light pollution is gaining more attention and will result in more mandates for sensors to turn off exterior lighting when no motion is sensed as well as lights that direct down rather than upward or outward into adjacent properties where it may not be wanted.
- Traffic – even in these so-so economic times, traffic levels seem to be higher than ever. Facilities Managers are increasingly being tasked with helping their organizations reduce traffic and provide better alternative means for their employees to commute. Solutions to be considered are: ride sharing / car pool programs, shuttle buses, locating facilities near good public transit, bicycle lockers and showers and discount packages for public transit.
10. Sustainable Roofing – Ef
- TPO – Thermoplastic Polyolefin single-ply roofing have gained tremendous popularity in the past 10 years. See graph. And for good reason: the seam strength is reported to be 3 to 4 times stronger than EPDM, plus it’s white finish reflects abundant solar rays thereby reducing the “heat island effect” as well as keeping the building interior cooler than dark roof surfaces. Also, there are no plasticizers added and TPO does not degrade under UV radiation.
- PVC roof installations, meanwhile have barely gained market-share over the same 10 year period. One reason is that it is subject to “plasticizer migration”, which causes the sheets to become brittle. However, the most likely reason that PVC roofs have not gained popularity is due to the significant environmental hazards from the toxicity of the manufacturing process as well as the noxious compounds released in a fire such as hydrochloric acid fumes and byproducts including dioxin, a potent carcinogen.
- EPDM – Ethylene propylene diene monomeris a synthetic rubber most commonly used in single-ply roofing because it is readily available and relatively simple to apply. However it is one of the most costly to install and generally does not have the solar reflective qualities of TPO and PVC. Hence its popularity continues to plummet.
- BUR & Modified Bitumen – Once the most common new roof type, Asphalt BUR roofs have been around a very long time, but are becoming increasingly less popular (along with Modified Bitumen). If well maintained, these roof types can have extended lives by applying foam coverings, which also makes them more reflective. However, it’s been my experience that most of these roof types are not consistently well maintained and replacement becomes the only option available. When they are not well maintained, these materials tend to fail rather quickly. Lastly, when compared to other roofing systems, installation of asphalt roofs is more energy-intensive and contributes to atmospheric air pollution (toxic, and green-house gases are lost from the asphalt during installation), making this roof type a poor choice for the sustainably minded FM.
For commercial buildings, a few other sustainable roofing options exist, such as metal, shingle and tile roofs, but none are practical for large commercial buildings, typical in urban and suburban areas. Lastly, I’d love to see more solar PV and vegetative roofs, but the costs continue to make these choices no more than novelty installations as both require a sub-roof, generally one of the four common types listed above.