Why Choose LEED Certified Green Building Materials?

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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has become the standard for green building certifications. Their in-depth program looks at a facility from the planning stage all the way through everyday operation. It’s no secret that LEED certified buildings enjoy lower energy costs and other savings, which is why so many businesses are now interested in having a green-friendly building.

One of the best ways to earn certification is by choosing LEED certified green building materials. These materials are taken into consideration when a building is being scored for certification.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the benefits of choosing LEED certified materials.

LEED Certified Buildings Are More Attractive to Buyers

If you’re in the business of commercial real estate, you know just how popular green buildings have become. Facility owners and administrators are drawn to the potential energy savings as well as the positive environmental impact that sustainable design offers. Using LEED certified building materials can help your building be more attractive to buyers interested in an eco-friendly facility.

For more information, download our FREE eBook Sustainable Building Products: How to Make Your Facility Eco-Friendly from Top to Bottom.

Better Indoor Environment for Staff and Guests

Certain materials can be harmful and contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Poor IAQ has been tied to low attendance, illness, and other negative effects. Materials that are certified by LEED are approved for having low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. These emissions can be anything from dust particles to harmful fumes from heavy-duty paints.

By using these materials in your facility, you can improve the health of your staff, improve productivity, and reduce the rate of absenteeism.

Energy Efficiency = Potential Savings Each Year

One of the biggest draws of LEED materials is their ability to reduce a building’s energy and water consumption. This, in turn, can reduce the annual cost of operations, which means more money in the pockets of building owners, their projects, and their teams. But how exactly do these materials cause a drop in energy use?

Low-flow toilets, for example, use a fraction of the water with each flush as traditional toilets. Similarly, low-flow faucets help to reduce the amount of water wasted when guests wash their hands.

Meanwhile, materials like HDPE bathroom partitions can help to reduce the water, chemicals, and energy needed to clean the bathroom because the material resists graffiti, bacteria, and other concerns. Being easy to clean is a great benefit of the material in addition to its low maintenance needs.

Easier to Build and Sell

According to the US Green Building Council, “Green homes sell at higher prices and faster than comparable, conventional homes.” That’s about all the incentive that most designers need to shoot for LEED certification with their next build. Not only that, but the group also found that the cost to build one green home usually matched or was less than that of a conventional home. So as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to choose LEED certified green building materials.

Facility Design May Have an Impact on Human Error in Hospitals

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When most people consider the type of care they’ll receive at a hospital, they look to the qualifications of the doctors and nurses or the access to cutting-edge medical equipment. However, one thing that virtually no one thinks of is the design of the facility itself, which is a huge oversight according to scientific research that suggests facility design may have an impact on human error in hospitals.

In this article, we explore the research and discuss how you can utilize design strategies to effectively reduce the possibility of human error.

How Can Hospital Design Promote Human Error?

So you’re probably wondering, how can the design of a building actually lead to human error? While the answer could easily be covered by volumes of books on human psychology and cognitive ability, it would suffice to say that a confusing or unintuitive design lends itself more to cultivating erroneous behavior. This could be something as simple as designing patient room doorways that are wide enough for hospital beds to fit through so patients don’t have to be taken off the bed and transported by other means.

Another common design flaw is lighting. Having adequate lighting in treatment areas is important for doctors and medical professionals to diagnose and treat patients accurately.

Designing to Reduce Human Error in Hospitals

One way to design your hospital so it reduces the risk of human error is to create a well-organized and intuitive facility. Wide hallways, for example, make it easy for many different people and equipment to be moved without causing a blockage. Double automatic doors are also helpful for allowing patients to be moved in their beds from one section of the hospital to another.

Another important factor of design includes standardization, which can improve efficiency. Having rooms with a standardized layout and keeping medical supplies and equipment in the same places means that staff will be able to find exactly what they need no matter which room they’re in.

Facility Design

Designing with HDPE

Choosing materials for your hospital is almost as important as choosing the design plans. For many, the invention of high-density polyethylene has created a new standard for health-conscious building materials.

In addition to resisting dents and rust, HDPE is easy to clean and resistant to bacteria—big news for healthcare facilities. What’s more is that the durability of HDPE helps to keep annual operational costs low. Plus, many HDPE materials are LEED certified, so you can rest assured knowing that they’re safe for your staff and your patients.

HDPE is used in a variety of applications, but it’s most commonly used for lockers, bathroom partitions, vanities, and changing compartments within the healthcare industry.

To learn more about HDPE and bacteria in your hospital, check out this blog post: How Your Hospital Locker Rooms Could Be a Breeding Ground for Bacteria.

Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities

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Keeping your school looking and running in good condition is a full-time job. However, the job shouldn’t be left to one person but rather a team of dedicated employees who will help you see to it that the school is properly maintained year after year.

To make sure that your team is set for success, we’ve created this helpful planning guide for maintaining school facilities. By following the information covered in this guide, you’ll be sure to create a well-thought-out plan for your facility’s maintenance needs.

Planning for Success

If you’re going to build a maintenance plan that actually helps move the important projects forward, then it has to be part of the school’s master plan. This master plan discusses all the goals, objectives, and needs of the school, from new textbooks to new locker rooms.

Making the school’s maintenance needs part of the facility’s overarching plan is important for assuring that funding is received from the school district. It’s also the best way to make sure that maintenance needs are seen and reviewed by the decision makers of your institution. School facility maintenance plans can even help to enhance students’ education.

Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities

Who to Add to Your Team

Collaboration during the planning phase is an integral part of your school’s maintenance plan. Not only will you likely be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking, but you’ll also increase the likelihood that decision makers will buy into your plans by making them part of the process early on.

When deciding who to add to your team, consider any stakeholder with a sense of ownership in the facility. This might be members of the school board or the school district. Or it could be the school’s administrators or instructors. Oftentimes, the type of project you’re planning will determine who you’ll add to your team during the planning process.

Budgeting and Planning

Making sure that you budget for maintenance and any planned renovations or construction is important. Your school’s maintenance and operations budget will cover the expense of any existing facility or equipment. If you wish to construct an additional building or renovate an existing area, those funds should come out of capital project funding, not the existing operations budget. Otherwise, you run the risk of neglecting your current facility while resources and staff are channeled to the new construction or renovation project.

Using Data

Data is a powerful and often essential tool for maintenance planning. Otherwise, you’ll be mostly guessing what your school will need and how much it may cost to fulfill those needs. For example, by using real data about annual enrollment rates, you can properly plan for maintenance needs in the future as the student body either increases or decreases.

One example of how using data can be important for your school has to do with enrollment rates and lockers. By analyzing year-over-year enrollment rates, you can predict how many lockers your facility will need to accommodate all students in five or even 10 years. This gives you more time for planning and executing the plan before student enrollment exceeds the number of available lockers.

Follow these helpful tips when planning for maintenance at your school facility and you’ll be sure to create a successful plan.

School Building Conditions Can Impact Student Absenteeism

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Running a school involves a substantial amount of upkeep. Regular cleaning, HVAC system maintenance, repairing lockers—the list of work orders goes on and on. So it’s no surprise to find out that sometimes routine maintenance and repairs can fall to the wayside. However, it’s been suggested that school building conditions may directly impact student absenteeism.

Is there any merit to this claim? And if so, what do school officials need to know to keep student absenteeism down and school building conditions high?

Dirty Truth about Student Absenteeism

A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found a positive correlation between student absenteeism and the conditions of the school building. In fact, the worse condition a school is in, the higher student absenteeism will likely be.

One of the leading causes of short-term absenteeism is asthma, which can easily be triggered by poor air quality or negative building quality.

To keep students healthy and reduce the number of absences, it’s vital for school officials to maintain regular cleaning and maintenance procedures, not to mention use high-quality materials in the building’s design.

School Building Conditions to Monitor

Having your maintenance or cleaning staff keep a careful eye on building conditions is an important step in reducing the frequency of student absenteeism. However, there are specific areas that are more likely to be a threat than others.

The gym locker room for one can be prone to quick deterioration if left unchecked. Metal lockers have a tendency to rust due to the high level of moisture. That same moisture can also cause mold or mildew to form. Plus, if the room isn’t ventilated properly, high humidity and offensive odors can significantly impact the facilities indoor air quality.

School Building Conditions

To stay on top of such threats, cleanings should be carried out regularly, and alternatives to metal lockers should be considered. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), for example, is naturally resistant to rust as well as mold.

Using HDPE to Combat Student Absenteeism

HDPE isn’t new. Actually, it’s been around since the 1950s. Today, the durable plastic is used in a variety of applications, including school lockers. These plastic lockers have color throughout, so there’s no need for repainting, or danger of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

More than just for lockers, HDPE has also been used to create bathroom partitions. Not only do they resist rust, but the partitions also resist the spread of bacteria and can even deter graffiti and other acts of vandalism.

If your school’s bathroom or locker room is still using metal fixtures, it might be time to think about remodeling.

 

What is a LEED Building?

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When constructing a new building, architects hope to create something that’s both functional and an aesthetic addition to the existing landscape. But more than ever, designers are focused on creating eco-friendlier buildings as well, with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification being a top priority.

Continue reading to find out what a LEED building is and why using sustainable building materials is so important.

Definition of a LEED Building

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created LEED as a rating system to evaluate how green friendly a building is. The rating system is also used to help shift the design world toward more sustainable trends.

Buildings earn credits for each environmentally friendly component during the construction phase or thereafter. For example, buildings that have a plan in place for waste management during construction earn credits, or points. If there was no plan, the building would miss out on those credits.

In total, your building will need at least 40 credits to earn LEED certification. However, there are several certification levels available—silver, gold, and platinum—and each designation requires a different number of credits to qualify.

LEED Certification Levels

  • 40-49 Credits = Minimum for certification
  • 50-59 Credits = Silver
  • 60-79 Credits = Gold
  • 80-110 Credits = Platinum

Importance of Sustainable Building Materials

A green building, built through sustainable design, focuses on the efficient use of energy and materials. Reducing the impact that a building has on the environment by conserving water and energy is essential for an eco-friendly building to be successful. The concept of sustainable building design is important because your building can leave a long-lasting impact on the surrounding environment.

In the US, buildings account for nearly 40% of all energy use and almost 70% of electricity consumption.

To limit the negative impact that buildings can have on the environment, sustainable design strives to reduce operating costs and improve occupant productivity by limiting waste and reducing consumption.

The benefits of green building design range from improved air and water quality to protecting local ecosystems, so it’s obvious why many architects favor sustainable building designs.

Getting Ready for LEED Certification

To help your building earn LEED certification, you first must know what the criteria are for scoring. You can find the current LEED scorecard online. Although your building will be required to meet certain categories to be considered for certification, the rest of the categories in which you can score points is completely up to you.

Keep in mind, though, that the more points you accrue, the higher level of certification you can achieve.

Another important part of earning LEED certification is choosing the right materials. Using sustainable building materials, like HDPE plastic, during the construction phase will add points to your overall LEED score.

How to Make Your Facility LEED Compliant

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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one organization that has instant name recognition with building owners and managers. A compliant building is known to be green friendly, use less energy, and ultimately cost building owners less money in long-term costs. So it’s no surprise to learn that a lot of people with existing building are interested in applying for LEED certification.

Learning how to make your facility LEED compliant is the first step in creating a happy, healthier, and more cost-efficient building.

What’s LEED Certification?

LEED certification is acquired by earning points in 9 categories. Forty points is the minimum needed for certification, but more points can spring your building into one of the following LEED certification categories: Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

Here’s how the point ranges break down:

  • 40-49 points: Certification
  • 50-59 points: Silver
  • 60-79 points: Gold
  • 80+ points: Platinum

Your score card will be tallied and added to your LEED application, but first you’ll probably want to make some changes to your building so you can earn more points. So let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can increase your number of LEED compliance points.

LEED Certification Checklist

Although there are over 100 possible points up for grabs on the LEED certification checklist, 12 items are specified as being required for your facility to even be considered compliant. It’s imperative that you make an effort to meet these list items if you hope to achieve certification.

So what are these prerequisites?

1. Construction Activity Pollution Prevention

The purpose of this requirement is to help reduce pollution from the construction process. You’ll need to come up with a plan for controlling soil erosion, sedimentation, and airborne dust.

2. Outdoor Water Use Reduction

Reducing outdoor water consumption is required if you want your facility to be LEED compliant. To do this, you’ll need to either show that no irrigation is required or that reduced irrigation is being used (30% less than the calculated baseline during the peak watering month).

3. Indoor Water Use Reduction

The water your building uses indoors is just as precious as the water it uses outdoors. Reduce water consumption by 20% to achieve this prerequisite. Plus all new toilets, urinals, bathroom sinks, and showerheads will need to be WaterSense labeled or the local equivalent.

4. Building-Level Water Metering

This supports water management and helps you spot areas where you can further improve water reduction. Since most facilities have a water meter, you may be able to earn this credit without having to dish out any capital for renovations.

5. Fundamental Commissioning and Verification

Although a little more in-depth than other requirements, it’s still important to ensure that you complete these commissioning process activities. The purpose is to support a facility design, construction, and operation that meets your plans for energy use, water consumption, indoor air quality (IAQ), and durability.

6. Minimum Energy Performance

Your facility will need to demonstrate an energy reduction of 5% for a new facility or 3% for a renovations project. Not only will this help you earn certification, but you’ll also save money on your energy costs.

7. Building-Level Energy Metering

Similar to the water metering, you’ll need to have a meter that accurately measures your facility’s energy use.

8. Fundamental Refrigerant Management

Basically, this requirement specifies that your building can’t use chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants in the HVAC and refrigeration systems. If it does, a phase-out process must be implemented.

9. Storage and Collection of Recyclables

This is a no brainer. If you want your facility to be LEED compliant, you have to provide adequate methods for recycling glass, plastics, metal, paper, and cardboard.

10. Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning

During the building of your new facility or its renovation, you’ll need a plan for waste disposal. The plan needs to show how you’re limiting the amount of waste that will end up in a landfill by sending to recycling facilities.

11. Minimum IAQ Performance

IAQ is an important health factor for your building. You’ll need to demonstrate that your building has minimum pollutants and adequate ventilation.

12. Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control

Smoking must be prohibited indoors and designated smoking areas must be established outside. These areas must be at least 25 feet from any entrance, window, or air intake.

Using LEED-Compliant Materials

As part of your plan to make a LEED-compliant facility, you should consider what materials you use in your building. Certain materials, like HDPE plastics, can help you achieve certification because of their low impact on the environment and assistance in improving IAQ, among other benefits.

Learn more about HDPE and how to build a sustainable building by downloading our free eBook Sustainable Building Products: How to Make Your Facility Eco-Friendly from Top to Bottom

How to Cut Energy Costs in Your Facility

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Limiting your expenditures is one of the primary goals of virtually every business. However, cutting energy costs can be easier said than done. For many administrators and business owners, determining where potential issues or opportunities lie can be a lengthy process, which in turn allows more time for energy loss and expenses to accrue.

In this post, we’ll review a few ways that you can reduce energy costs in your facility, many of which you can put into action immediately.

Controlled Lighting

A large facility that runs 24 hours a day can use up a lot of electricity, especially when it comes to lighting. One method for reducing energy costs is to use controlled lighting to limit energy waste. This method specifies strategic lighting of the different areas of your facility when in use.

So if certain areas go unused at night when the day shift leaves, it’s recommended that the lights in this area be turned off either by the custodial staff, security, or some other employee. By only supplying light to the areas of the facility currently occupied, you can drastically reduce your energy usage.

Update and Repair Equipment

Broken or outdated electronics can use up a massive amount of energy. It’s important to make sure that your facility’s equipment is in good working condition and features the most recent advances in power-saving technology. Light switches, for example, can be equipped with motion sensor triggers so they turn on automatically when occupied and turn off when not in use.

Other updates include ensuring that adequate insulation is used to prevent energy loss through walls or windows. New energy-efficient windows, proper insulation, and other forms of retro-commissioning efforts can help your facility to achieve annual energy savings of about 16%, according to a study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Some energy wastes are more difficult to identify and diagnostic tools such as infrared imagers and electrical test equipment can be used to measure energy usage and detect unforeseen problems.

Involve Every Member of Your Staff

If you want to reduce your facility’s energy use, then you need to employ the help of everyone who uses the facility. That means communicating and coordinating with the members of your staff to keep energy waste at a minimum and developing an energy management strategy. This can be as simple as having your custodial staff clean at night, turning off all of the machines and lights in each room as they finish cleaning.

You can also speak with your staff to keep doors closed to limited energy waste or create incentives for those who come up with ways to cut energy costs. One place where you may be able to significantly reduce energy consumption is in your facility’s kitchen, if you have one. Some nonessential ovens and fryers, for example, can be kept off during non-peak hours or refrigerators can be set to the most efficient temperatures:

  • 37 to 40 degrees F for refrigerators
  • 0 to 5 degrees F for freezers
  • -10 to 0 degrees F for freezers storing ice cream

Another way to cut energy costs in your facility is to consider materials that are easy to clean and care for. Surfaces that are easier to clean take less time for your custodial staff to address. HDPE materials, for example, are bacteria and graffiti resistant in addition to being rust and dent resistant as well.

Maintenance Specialists vs. Cleaning Generalists: Why Specialists Make More Business Sense

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Mop Bucket

As the manager of a facility, it’s up to you to determine how your facility is maintained in terms of many different components. These components range from basic upkeep and repair to maintaining assets and developing preventative maintenance processes.

Because maintenance is so instrumental to your facility, it’s crucial that you select the right people to keep the building maintained properly in order to reduce drastic replacement and repair costs in the future.

So what’s the difference between a maintenance specialist and a cleaning generalist? One of the main differences could be your bottom line. According to an article by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the difference can also help you to maintain a positive image for your business.

Understanding Cleaning Generalists

You may hire a janitorial company, or several different companies, that specializes in cleaning various areas of a building. In doing so, you’ll receive the same set of services that they provide any business that hires them. Your facility will then be maintained the same way as any other building without any special attention to your unique needs.

For example, while you may have your set cleaning company doing general maintenance and upkeep, you’ll also call in a carpet cleaner every so often when you begin to notice that the floor looks dirty.

Cleaning generalists stick to a standard checklist and address cleaning the same way each time.

Understanding Maintenance Specialists

Maintenance specialists, on the other hand, use a little more thought when it comes to your overall maintenance strategy. The IFMA states that “maintenance specialists are true experts that focus on specific areas of your space – carpet, textiles, hard surfaces, etc. These are partners that consider the unique needs of your business and proactively look for ways to improve your building’s appearance and extend the life of your assets.”

This means that you may choose a carpet care specialist to work with rather than having a cleaning generalist and hiring a carpet cleaner every now and then. This carpet care specialist will offer maintenance solutions for your floor’s appearance and to extend the life of your carpet.

Making the Right Choice for Your Facility

Deciding between cleaning generalists and maintenance specialists comes down to your facility’s needs, and you’ll need to consider the long-term investment of your facility, which many managers seem to overlook. It’s common to be worried about initial costs, but while you may be choosing the less expensive route to begin with, it could add up over time and end up being costlier.

Looking beyond the initial purchase can have a drastic impact on your facility, whether it’s maintenance costs like in this case or products. When making your decision, think about the long-term costs and savings of each option.

If you need quality, sustainable products for your facility, click here to find out where to buy Scranton Products.

Are Your Building and Staff Fully Prepared for Emergencies?

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Emergency Evacuation Plan

One of the main responsibilities of a facility manager and his or her team is making sure that the building and staff are completely prepared for emergencies. While you always hope that you won’t run into any unforeseen issues that cause an emergency, the truth is that they do happen.

To eliminate the drastic effects of an emergency and minimize the fallout, it’s best to be as prepared as possible. It’s the facility manager’s job to protect the facility, the staff, and all those involved in the case of an emergency and to make sure that the business is up and running smoothly as soon as possible.

Learn more about how to prepare your building and staff for emergencies and how to deal with unfortunate events.

Know Your Building

When disaster strikes, it’s important to know the ins and outs of your building. In an emergency situation, this can drastically change the outcome. Understand the layout of the building, know where drains are and where fire extinguishers are kept, and make sure that everyone is aware of emergency exit locations. Be aware of sprinkler systems as well as valves and know how to turn them off if necessary.

Being aware of your building can help you in an emergency situation, but remaining calm is another key factor to properly handling it. If you’re calm during an emergency, you’ll be able to act quickly in order to save others from danger. For example, you may remember where the building’s valve shutoffs are located, so in the event of a flood, you’ll just need to navigate your way to them.

Create a Plan

It’s always necessary to have an emergency plan for your facility. Gather your team to create a detailed plan for many different scenarios. According to Facilities.net, you should break up the scenarios into two categories: accidental and purposeful. “Accidental includes incidents like fires, chemical spills or natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc.). Purposeful incidents include man-made emergencies, such as terrorism, workplace violence or assaults. If an organization has an emergency plan, chances are it will cover the accidental side of things and leave the purposeful man-made emergencies lacking. That’s because while facility managers are well aware of the risk of fires or storms, incidents like active shooters or workplace violence seem more far-fetched.”

Keep Your Plan Updated

Having several emergencies plans will go a long way, but for these plans to be the most effective, they’ll need to constantly be updated as the building and people within the facility change.

Emergency plans should be reviewed at least on an annual basis, and some codes and regulations even require them to be updated even more frequently. Make sure that everyone has access to these plans so they can easily be updated to reflect changes.

Make sure that your building and staff are fully prepared for emergencies by remembering these three main tips. Being prepared can make all the difference in these types of situations.

Building an Energy Management Strategy That Works

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Enegry Management

When you’re creating a plan for your building or facility, energy management is one of the most crucial elements. It’s important for you to keep energy low for cost-effectiveness and to adhere to the many requirements put in place by the government. The only way you’ll be able to successfully minimize energy costs and make sure that you stick to these standards is by developing a sound strategy.

Keep reading to find out how to build an energy management strategy that works.

The International Facility Management Association has developed a sound strategy that facility managers should adhere to when developing their own energy management plan. This strategy involves five key phases: planning, installation, operation, optimization, and renewal.

Consider Your Options

When you begin to develop your plan, consider the options that you have so you can create the best plan possible. To do so, gather a committee of facility operators and employees that each contributes to the plan with new perspectives and ideas that fit the organization’s objectives.

Make sure to schedule consistent brainstorming meetings where each person gets to express their own ideas, then continue to create different parts of the plan until you have a solid strategy in place.

Determine Installation and Suppliers

Once you’ve created your plan, the facility managers and other executives will want to negotiate terms with suppliers in order to be the most cost-effective and get the most for their investment. Energy prices are constantly fluctuating, and the cost of energy can drastically impact the facility’s profits based on this step of the planning process.

Energy Operations and Maintenance

As a facility operates and maintains energy management systems while controlling costs, the facility managers must be able to accurately measure their energy and resource consumption. This allows them to stay on track and determine if they’re meeting their goals or to understand where they’re going outside the plan.

In some cases, facility managers look into energy consumption devices to allow them to better determine where energy can be reduced.

Optimization

In the same way that it’s important to measure the amount of energy that’s consumed, it’s also crucial for facility managers to execute targeted efficiency projects with demonstrable ROI in order for the energy management strategy to be effective. By optimizing energy and resource consumption, organizations help to reduce costs, improve processes, and meet sustainability goals.

Renewing the Strategy

Facility managers must analyze the performance of their strategy and determine if it’s working with reporting capabilities. The key to an energy management strategy is being able to report progress, so an analysis of the performance and determining whether goals have been met is crucial to the process.

If goals aren’t reached and progress isn’t made, it’s up to the facility managers to determine what isn’t working and where the strategy can be improved.

Keep these tips in mind when developing your energy management strategy. If you need durable, sustainable products for your new facility, click here to find out where to buy Scranton Products.