Hey, it’s Earth Day! So, what does that mean for your and your building?
For you: We know you can never turn down an animated doodle, so go check out Google’s cycle of all four seasons seen below.
For Your Building: Use this week to highlight your efforts to minimize environmental impact. This can be a great time for building managers to take some simple steps that could make their properties a little more environmentally-friendly. Small actions can make a huge difference over the life of a building, and the Environmental Protection Agency offers some helpful tips on where to start.
Check your utility output
Developing sustainable practices has a number of practical benefits. An Energy Star certified building emits 26 percent less carbon than a typical office building by reducing the amount of energy required to heat or cool the facility. Poor fitting doors or windows create a lot of space for heat to escape the building. Tracking utility costs could indicate how much energy is being lost due to old construction. Monitoring energy consumption and comparing various facilities can help identify areas where improvements can be made. Utilities are often a major expense in the maintenance of a large office building, and small adjustments to lighting equipment or window seals may greatly reduce the cost of running a property.
Check water consumption, drainage
An article by the Los Angeles Times draws some attention to the scarcity of water around the world. Citing research by Unicef, the source notes that nearly 4,000 children die each day from unsafe drinking water. In the U.S., public water systems bring clean water directly to homes and businesses, but capturing rainwater for use in landscaping could reduce water and sewage bills. Building managers should check their local state laws before attempting this, as in some arid Western states it is illegal to block the flow of rainwater.
Plant a tree
Trees are a valuable tool in maintaining the local environment. They produce oxygen, helping to remove harmful gases and making air cleaner while creating shade that reduces air temperatures. A few areas with properly-sized trees in parking lots can provide shade that help keep visitors’ cars cool and improve the visual appeal of buildings.
A separate option for building managers is to create a green roof. These rooftop gardens provide insulation for the buildings beneath them helping to lower energy bills. Studies have shown that green roofs can benefit entire cities, improving air quality and lowering the average temperature during summer. A green roof is easier to make than most people realize. Best suited for flat areas, it takes just a few planters and some trees to shade a portion of the building.
Earth Day initiatives usually involve recycling programs. Building managers can help tenants reduce waste by helping to organize waste management initiatives. To relieve some pressure from overburdened dumps, some cities provide tax incentives for companies that improve their recycling efforts. Software tracking programs can be used to analyze building activity to find ways to manage recycling programs and minimize waste.