Stop dollars washing down the drain…
By Australian Facilities Plumbing
…Invest in water and energy conservation strategies.
Commercial properties have become more energy efficient thanks to the introduction of new sustainability initiatives like the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) that provides energy efficiency information about commercial buildings to prospective buyers and tenants that occupy the premises. Better performing sites are seeing the benefits of such schemes, enabling them the ability to secure tenants or sales faster by disclosing meaningful information to parties about the facility’s energy efficiency. Or in the case of government owned properties (like defence barracks, gaols or hospital sites), the savings in energy have a direct impact on the state and federal budgets – not to mention the environment generally. It’s no doubt this is creating a strong market-based incentive for owners to improve their facilities with energy efficient upgrades that will increase their return on investment.
There is no substitute for vigilance when it comes to strategies fo r conserving the use of both water and energy. Toilets that continue to run after being flushed, those insignific ant drips from tapware and fixtures, condensation on uninsulated pipes and issues that may be considered by some as minor are clear signals that the money meter is on. New buildings that hold a certificate of occupancy that is less than 2 years old have been built to comply with these new standards of efficiency and owners and lessors reap the rewards as does the environment from lowered Greenhouse Gas emissions. For all other commercial premises, without a plan to curtail the consumption of water and energy, the monly choice will be to watch money go down the drain along with precious resources that we all have a responsibility to conserve.
It would be prudent to take the following steps to ensure your site moves toward reducing energy consumption and compliance.
Regular maintenance program
Lack of maintenance generally on equipment such as untimed tapware, equipment without electronic timing and equipment that consumes power naturally results in more inefficient power consumption. Toilet Fixtures, Hot Water Heaters and boilers, cooling units and HVAC all need proper maintenance to extend their lifecycles and operate efficiently. However, continuous improvement goes a step beyond having a comprehensive maintenance plan.
Upgrading for savings
A cost effective upgrade program is both complimentary and necessary for older sites to comply. Common upgrades include: sensoractivated electronic tapware; upgraded low-flow electronic toilet and urinal valves; waterless urinals and sensor-activated or low flow / timed tapware. It pays to research the product(s) chosen for any upgrade for recalls and also to ensure they are fit-for-purpose – and won’t negatively impact the function of the upgraded equipment or building infrastructure generally. This is easily done via a phone call or email to your trusted support team / contractor, or by searching the Internet for technical specifications.
Put efficiency on the agenda
While meetings and conversations can uncoverareas of energy inefficiency, it’s best to structure the conversation around efficiencies by setting it up as a regular agenda item surrounding a sound routine maintenance program. This will create a universal understanding of its importance to your team, allowing a forum for issues to be raised and for action plans to remedy those issues with a timeline and followup.
Engage site users to provide feedback
Another group of people who are intimate with your facility are those who occupy it during work hours. Tenants (or the workers on a site) ar e more likely to offer candid feedback on facility issues – particularly those areas they visit on a daily basis. Hotspots like food preparation areas, toilet areas, recreational spaces and personal workstations are commonly complained about for one simple reason – because they are high traffic areas and problems are impossible to ignore. Consider ways to obtain this feedback – through managers and supervisors, to enable immediate feedback on these issues. You may also consider digital channels to speed up the process, like a dedicated email inbox for maintenance issues and concerns. If you are really up for it – you could even leverage the power of social media, posting to the company Facebook page. As facility managers, it’s likely you have the ability to access the various stakeholders and experience to lead initiatives that prevent efficiency-leaks. Above all else, it’s important to engage your trusted contractor as part of your team such as Australian Facilities Plumbing to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to improving the site efficiency in accordance with local and national regulations.