Why You Should Consider Maintenance Costs When Designing a New Building


It’s easy to overlook maintenance costs when designing a new building, but it could end up hurting you. That’s because administrators, contractors, architects, and other building officials are under constant pressure to keep costs down and stay within budget. However, choosing the cheapest materials or building methods can have expensive maintenance requirements.

In this post, we take a closer look at why it’s important to consider maintenance costs when designing a new building as well as the difference between initial cost and life cycle cost.

Understanding Initial Cost and Life Cycle Cost

When you create a budget for a new building design, you’re looking at the initial cost. The budget specifies how much of the allocated funds will be used for each component, including supplies and labor. Although it’s true that every project relies on this number for approval, shooting for the lowest initial cost isn’t always the best decision.

For example, when purchasing building materials, the least expensive option might be of the poorest quality. In most circumstances, you pay more for higher quality and longer material life span.

Life cycle cost, on the other hand, is a way of budgeting that considers the entire cost of a material over the course of its life span. This includes any anticipated repairs, replacements, or maintenance. For example, let’s say one lamp cost $100 and another cost $200. The first lamp is cheaper, but the life expectancy of the second lamp is three times as long.

Thus, you’d spend more money in the long run by purchasing the $100 lamp since you’d have to replace it twice before you’d need to replace the more expensive lamp.

Calculating Maintenance Costs

Now that you’ve learned the difference between initial and life cycle costs, it’s easy to see why buying for life cycle costs is the smarter choice. But how exactly do you know if a material or building method will help to lower maintenance costs? Here are a few ways to help you make the right decision.

Is It Easy to Clean?

Clean materials tend to outlast those that aren’t, so opting for materials and products that are easy to clean and care for is a great idea. But not only might the material last long, it could also save you money on cleaning costs since less cleaning materials will need to be used.

Maintenance Costs

Does It Resist Damage?

Being durable is a good sign that the product or material is going to help cut your long-term maintenance costs. The good news is, products that are resistant to damage like dents, scratches, or graffiti will usually showcase that aspect as one of the primary features of the product. If you’re not sure, talk with your architect or contractor.

What Kind of Regular Care Does It Need?

Lights will need to have their bulbs replaced, HVAC systems will require routine maintenance, but it’s important to know these things before you make a purchase and factor that into the life cycle cost. For example, HDPE bathroom partitions are colored throughout and don’t require painting or repainting, whereas metal partitions do.

As you can see, it’s vital for you to consider maintenance costs when designing a new building. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to building a cost-effective facility.

How to Cut Energy Costs in Your Facility


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


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?


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


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.


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.

What Is the Living Building Challenge?


Building Plans
About the Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge “calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture.”

Those who take the Living Building Challenge must ensure that building projects meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months.

Performance Areas

The Challenge is made up of seven performance areas that are referred to as “petals”: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. Each petal is divided again into 20 imperatives that focus on a specific sphere of influence.


Building projects are eligible for three types of certification: Living Building Certification, Petal Certification, or Net Zero Energy Building Certification. Each project path adheres to three different steps: Registration, Documentation + Operation. and Audit + Certification.

  • Registration: When registering, the team will outline the project details, including the Typology (renovation, infrastructure + landscape, building, community) and Transect (natural habitat preserve, rural agriculture zone, village or campus zone, general urban zone, urban center zone, urban core zone). The team members join the Living Building Challenge Community, which gives them access to resources within the challenge.
  • Documentation + Operation: A team can begin submitted documentation regarding their project after the registration process has been completed. The documentation process continues throughout construction and the operational phase, which is 12 consecutive months of operation. During this time, project performance data is recorded. Once the operational phase is complete, teams can submit their data to be audited.
  • Audit + Certification: The institute first must verify that the team has submitted all necessary documentation. An independent auditor will then perform a review of the documentation and conduct a site visit. The auditor creates a final report, which is reviewed by the institute. The institute then notifies the team of the results and certifies the project, if appropriate.

Red List Building Materials

Red List materials contain harmful components that affect living creatures and the environment.

A Living Building Challenge Red List contains materials used in construction that don’t meet the challenge’s criteria. According to the International Living Future Institute, the list is made up of materials that should be phased out of production because of health concerns. It’s continuously updated as new items emerge. The list includes both chemicals and chemical groups. This Red List falls under the Materials petal of the Living Building Challenge.

The Living Building Challenge “is a tool for regenerative design. It is not a net neutral program; it most decidedly is about creating a pathway and vision for a truly sustainable, regenerative living future. Nature doesn’t do zero—it is net positive in energy, food and flows.”

Scranton Products believes in equipping your facility with sustainable products to reduce harmful emissions. Click here to find out where to buy Scranton Products.

The Advantages of Keeping Building Energy Performance on Your Radar


Light bulbs In a recent article regarding building energy performance policy, The Institute for Market Transformation revealed that “the building sector is the single largest user of energy in the United States, accounting for roughly 40 percent of total energy consumption, more than industry or transportation.” This article also stated that the US spends over $400 billion on energy for our buildings. Most buildings use much more energy than is necessary, which is largely due in part by the fact that buildings were constructed before energy codes were in place. However, the owners of these buildings need to upgrade their buildings to be more sustainable. Many are misinformed or don’t have the financial incentives to upgrade, but by raising awareness about this matter, we can save money for both consumers and businesses. In addition, we can see fuel economic growth, while also reducing carbon pollution for a healthier environment. Understanding your building’s energy performance and keeping it on your radar will provide a multitude of benefits. Find out how benchmarking can help your building stay aligned with energy use and cost-effective operations.

Why should I use benchmarks?

  • Energy benchmarking measures your building’s energy use over time so you can be aware of its energy performance and identify areas to eliminate the energy being wasted. You can also compare your own energy usage to that of other buildings’ to get a better read of where you can be more energy efficient.
  • By sharing this information with your city or state, policymakers can analyze the data and determine whether the intended results were achieved. From there, they’ll be able to use resources more appropriately and develop infrastructure plans accordingly.
  • Being transparent with your benchmarking data allows stakeholders on a larger scale work together to achieve a common goal. Others will recognize the effort and understand the importance, which can in turn prompt action on their part.

How can benchmarking help energy efficiency?

As buildings release information about their energy use on a large scale, building owners can stay competitive with each other to be the most energy-efficient.

  • Energy and cost savings: Energy waste is draining millions of the economy’s dollars. Benchmarking can lead to implementing cost effective measures to reduce this spending.
  • Job creation and economic growth: According to the Institute for Market Transformation, 77% of Philadelphia’s commercial building need upgrades, which would generate more than $600 million in local spending, while also supporting 23,000 jobs.
  • Improving utilities: Determining what utilities need to be improved in order to be more energy efficient will raise the performance of all buildings.

Energy benchmarking offers a range of benefits that are crucial for building owners, consumers, and the environment overall. Scranton Products utilizes High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) for all of their products. This material reduces environmental impact and offers both initial and long-term improvements to the indoor air quality of your projects. Click here to find out where you can buy Scranton Products.

Sustainable Building Products

Harnessing the Power of Deep Energy Retrofits in Your Building Projects


Enegry Efficiency As energy efficiency continues to gain more attention and the energy efficiency retrofit market develops, the benefits to architects continue to improve. According to The American Institute of Architects, building operations account for more than 75% of all electric use, and buildings are responsible for more than 40% of all U.S. carbon emissions. Because this is such a large percentage, the U.S. can’t address the energy and climate challenge without altering the way our buildings are designed and operated. American businesses are improving their operating conditions with plans to upgrade energy efficiency in their building. While this is a start, it’s more important that building owners see energy efficiency as a core business priority. But to do this, they must fully understand the benefits that it offers.

What is deep energy retrofitting?

A deep energy retrofit is a process that is performed in order to achieve large energy savings than conventional retrofits. For example: creating energy efficiency in most buildings is achieved by upgrading old systems with newer, more efficient technology. This is a standard retrofit, but it’s limited. It could prevent a building from even more efficient technologies with even greater savings. Designing a new approach for higher energy savings is called deep energy retrofits and aims for a savings of 50%. Deep energy retrofits are effective in cutting energy use, saving building owners money, and providing business for architects.

What are the existing trends used to improve energy efficiency?

Why should architects take advantage of this opportunity in the market? The energy efficiency market is a growth opportunity for architects. The architect community has engaged in multiple efforts to reduce energy waste by incorporating more energy efficient building design and construction. Deep energy retrofits reduce energy waste for a more sustainable environment, save building owners money to possibly create more construction for the economy, and can also be a source of business for architects. Other incentives for considering energy retrofitting include long term savings for building owners, the economical demand for energy efficient buildings, as well as incentives from the financial community.

What are some examples of sustainable products used in construction?

When designing and constructing a building, the products that you install into a facility are important. You want to make sure that you’re not adding products that are made up of harmful material that could be hazardous to a person’s health. Scranton Products bathroom partitions, lockers, showers and dressing compartments, and vanities are made up of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). This material reduces environmental impact and offers both initial and long-term improvements to the indoor air quality of your projects. Made from recycled materials, HDPE plastic resists mold and mildew for improved air quality and is one solid color throughout, so you’ll never have to deal with harmful emissions from paint. Be sure to take these ideas into consideration as an architect for a more sustainable environment. Click here to find out where to buy Scranton Products.

Sustainable Building Products

How the 4 Phases of Emergency Management Should Guide Education Building Plans



Duralife Locker - Blue

When you build your school’s facility, it’s crucial to focus on emergency management, for the safety of the students who walk through the doors every day. Nobody likes the thought of an emergency taking place in a school, but it’s important to consider. You have to be as prepared as possible in order to take the right actions should an emergency occur. Emergency management should be at the forefront of your education building plans. The US Department of Education has broken emergency management in schools down into four separate parts. Learn more about what you can do to make sure you’re ready.

  • Prevention-Mitigation: When creating the school, utilizing strategic design techniques can prevent or reduce damage. This can include making it more difficult for intruders to enter, or designing structures that can’t be damaged by the elements of weather.
  • Preparedness: Safety features are necessary when building a school, such as a school-wide communication system. This can alert the school, faculty and students of an emergency and allow everyone to act accordingly.
  • Response: This includes accessible floor plans that can make it easier for emergency responders to navigate the school site and reach people or areas in need. It can be difficult to figure out the layout of a building, especially one that’s large with reoccurring hallways. This could save a lot of time, as well.
  • Recovery: In the event that there is an incident, the school must remodel and adapt in a way that addresses the issue and ensures that the same problem will not occur again.

Planning for Safe Products

Another way to ensure that your school is safe is to utilize safe products and materials throughout the facility. Learn more about what types of products will be safe for your students. HDPE Plastic: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) reduces environmental impact and also offers initial and long-term improvements to the indoor air quality of your products.Materials in your facilities can also be damaging to your respiratory system and cause even more health problems in the long run, especially in young children. Choosing eco-friendly, sustainable products will improve the air quality rather than polluting it like other materials. HDPE plastic is also resistant to bacteria and mold growth which can be harmful to students’ health as well. HDPE exhibited no microbial growth during a 21 day testing period. Solid HDPE plastic materials do not absorb moisture, making them resistant to mold and mildew. The surface is non-porous so the growth of mildew cannot be supported. HDPE plastic partitions are also fully power washable and steam cleanable, so you can wash them without the need for harmful chemical cleaners. In addition, HDPE plastic materials are one solid colored material throughout. This means you don’t have to worry about painting. Your HDPE products deliver no VOC emission and are GREENGUARD GOLD During the construction process, make sure that safety is accounted for. Click here to find out where to buy Scranton Products for a safer school.

The Environmentally Friendly Secret Weapon Every Building Should Have


When designing or remodeling a building, facility owners are faced with many challenges. The two most common needs for a building concept are aesthetically pleasing designs and durable features, but a commonly forgotten yet important aspect is a strong environmental impact. But how can you build a facility and incorporate sustainable materials at the same time?

While unknown by many building owners or facility managers, there’s an environmentally friendly secret weapon that every building should have. You can read on to learn about the sustainable benefits of HDPE plastic materials.


The recycling loop works at its highest level when buildings purchase materials made from post-consumer recycled products but are also recyclable so they can be disposed of in an efficient manner. This process helps to reduce industrial waste, but not all facility and building materials are able to contribute.

HDPE plastic materials are available with up to 100% post-consumer products in order to provide facility managers with the ability to support the recycling loop. And with 100% recycling material, you can dispose of these products in an environmentally friendly way when you’re remodeling or renovating. HDPE secretly provides this added sustainability while other common building materials, such as phenolic or solid color reinforced composite, do not.

Non-Chemical Dependent

Many facility owners constantly experience a need for expensive chemical cleaners in order to efficiently clean their building materials. This is especially common in restrooms, where germs are frequent. However, these harmful cleaners usually have concerns surrounding their production and impact on indoor air quality.

Thankfully, if you choose materials made of HDPE plastic, you won’t need to worry about these harmful chemicals. HDPE plastic can be power washed or steam cleaned. And since it’s built with a solid color throughout and scratch resistant, facility owners won’t have to reapply chemically infused paints to cover up fading or marks.

Free of Urea-Formaldehyde Resins

While you may not be able to see them, many facility and building products have added urea-formaldehyde resins worked into them. While used to increase durability, this type of resin can be harmful for the air around your building. Your patrons will be in jeopardy of moderate to severe allergic reactions that could result in anything from a runny nose to difficulty breathing.

While HDPE plastic helps to improve and maintain an environmentally friendly and healthy air quality level by staying free of added urea-formaldehyde resins, other building and facility materials, such as phenolic, do not.

HDPE is an environmentally friendly secret weapon that every building should have. Not only is the material customizable for design and durability, but it also features a number of sustainable benefits that facility managers have the opportunity to take advantage of.

Scranton Products features a number of HDPE plastic materials near you that you can add into your building. You can also take a look at our continuing education courses to learn more about the beneficial environmental impact of HDPE.