Category Archives: Sustainability

Encouraging “Green” Behaviors in Occupants of Green Buildings

Sustainability has become a global trend in facilities–both in existing buildings with upgrades and in new developments worldwide.  Truth is, however, no matter how advanced, innovative and environmentally forward these design plans may be, without tenant attention to their overall performance goals, achieving maximum performance is impossible.

In fact, in a study conducted by Lucid Design Group, they found that up to fifty percent of energy consumption in a building is directly linked to occupant usage, by what’s deemed “plug loads,” which is essentially energy that cannot be moderated by high-tech Building Automation Systems (BAS).  So what can facility managers do to encourage compliance among occupants?

ECO-CHARRETTES: In the design phase for new facilities, the design team works closely together to establish environmental performance goals.  Once these goals are fully understood by the team behind a building, it’s time to host an eco-charrette, bringing together the design team and future occupants to engage them before they take occupancy.  By clarifying goals, explaining BAS and helping occupants understand their building, they’ll be more likely to actively partake, subsequently working towards meeting consumption goals.

UTILIZE DASHBOARD TECHNOLOGIES: With sustainability trends on the rise, software gurus have designed innovative facilities management software that can measure real-time usage and project in a user-friendly dashboard that occupants can easily digest.  Lucid Design Group introduced their Building Dashboard program that provides a platform for measurement, engagement and social networking capabilities.

ENCOURAGE COMPETITION AMONG OCCUPANTS: By implementing dashboard technologies and connecting the social networking capabilities, facility managers can create and encourage ongoing competitions between occupants. That said, these competitions can be among individual users, offices, different floors of a high-rise, or even among entirely different buildings or businesses altogether.  The social network implementations allow for up-to-date tracking that can be compared instantly.

KEEP THINGS SIMPLE: Energy is an abstract subject to many; factor in measurements (kilowatts, etc.) and it becomes even more abstract to the common user.  By simplifying things and keeping them transparent, users are more likely to understand the role their behaviors play in overall consumption. It’s unfair to expect compliance where there’s uncertainty of overall goals.

HOLISTIC MEASURE ARE LASTING MEASURES: Josh Radoff, Principal at YR&G Sustainability, believes that implementing a holistic attitude in sustainability measures will offer lasting effects.

“There’s a mistake of focusing solely on energy and water. While they’re important for a lot of people, they’re abstract ideas.  It’s hard to get too far only focusing on energy,” says Radoff.

Embracing all facets of healthy living–sustainable supplies, healthy food options and even composting, where possible–are all ways to demonstrate to occupants, that a facility’s performance goals encompass all means of carbon footprint reduction.

By Ashley Halligan, a CAFM software analyst, at a Web-based advisory service

Image courtesy of John McStravick.