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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  29 Jul 2010

ENVIRONMENT: Tips For Operating A Sustainable Building


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Design and construction usually spring to mind when the built environment talks about green initiatives. But architects and builders are just the first in a long line of professionals who influence a building's environmental sustainability over time.

The third Annual Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) Convention & Exhibition, sponsored by Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, scheduled for September this year, will be spotlighting some of the core professions that take over the green mandate from architects and builders, and propel a building's green principles into the future.

"Developing green building practices might start with design, but they extend all the way throughout the lifecycle of a property," says GBCSA CEO Nicola Douglas.

"Facilities management and property management are two of the disciplines which will be getting attention at this year's Convention."

It would be wasteful to design and construct a ‘green’ building, then follow with environmentally harmful management which contributes to wasting precious resources. The two disciplines, building and management, must work hand-in-hand.” adds Douglas.

Leading the discussion at the Convention will be US-based Teena Shouse, senior facilities consultant at Facility Engineering Associates in Kansas. She points out that design and construction costs only account for about 8 percent of the total cost of building ownership.

"Sustainable facilities management is about infusing smart, green alternatives in each and every area of operations possible," says Shouse.

"With a well-developed sustainability plan, a facilities manager can pick the ‘low-hanging fruit’ through behavioural or operational changes, replace building elements when they expire, or perform a full retrofit to maximize resources."

Shouse's philosophy hinges on communication, education and motivation - of both occupants and facilities management staff - about sustainability practices. She'll be sharing her top facilities management tips for operating a sustainable building at the Convention.

A complete facility condition or operational assessment is a key first step, says Shouse, as well as a thorough energy audit to identify priority areas.

In addition, a review of all service contracts is important to turn up potential changes that would positively impact on utility usage.

"Another tip is to communicate to building occupants clearly – and in practical terms – what they can do to support environmental sustainability,” she suggests.

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