Feature Article - April 2011
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Maintenance Series: Eco-Friendly

Clean and Green
Eco-Friendlier Maintenance Practices

By Dawn Klingensmith

Shades of Green

Based in Branford, Conn., and Orlando, Fla., O,R&L Facility Services offers facility and property management as well as janitorial services, taking a sustainable approach to building maintenance wherever possible. "You need to have management's buy-in," said Doris Wasson, a company representative and the Orlando City Hall property manager. "Sometimes they're completely, 100 percent on the green train, and sometimes you have to push things forward slowly, proving along the way that green initiatives actually reduce operating expenses."

One of the first steps in going green, Wasson said, is setting goals and assembling your green team. "Your team cannot just consist of well-intentioned employees who have their own rain barrels and compost piles. You need a professional, preferably a LEED-accredited professional, who can navigate data and forms and calculations necessary to achieve improvement and lower energy costs," she explained.

An expert will also bring to the table knowledge about local and state codes as well as grant and rebate opportunities for green initiatives.

Sometimes the simplest steps toward reaching your green goals are also the most visible. "Start with 'low-hanging fruit' types of things, which thankfully are sometimes the most apparent to building occupants," earning you a halo effect as an early (albeit intangible) return on investment, Wasson said. "Change out paper supplies to post-consumer recycled content. Install high-efficiency hand dryers. Start a recycling program. Swap out landscaping in favor of native drought-resistant varieties. Change irrigation cycles. Capture rainwater for use in potted plants. Install bike racks and sponsor ride-sharing programs."

Resistance to eco-friendly bathroom tissue is on the wane, Wasson added. "Like any other technology, green technology actually gets cheaper as it gets better. Users used to think, 'Brown paper towel equals cheap.' Now, brown equals green."