Green Tips: Water Efficient Landscaping

To those of you who don’t already know, RSC is headquartered in sunny California. Right now, California is in a very serious drought, so this particular green tip hits close to home. Today we’d like to share with you a little more about how to help your business grow a little greener and take a step towards it’s LEED certification with Water Efficient Landscaping.

Requirements

This one is actually quite simple. The intent is “to limit or eliminate the use of potable water or other natural surface or subsurface water resources on or near the project site for landscape irrigation,” – aka reduce the amount of water you’re using on landscaping. Reduce landscape irrigation by different percentages will gain you varying points toward your certification

Source

 

In order to effectively do so, LEED has outlined three options for calculating water reduction:

  1. “Calculate the baseline irrigation water use by determining the water use that would result from using an irrigation system typical for the region using the mid-summer baseline case or the month with the highest irrigation demand and compare this with the building’s actual irrigation potable water use, which can be determined through submetering. Use the baseline and actual water use values to calculate the percentage reduction in potable water or other natural surface or subsurface resource use. More detail about completing this calculation is available in the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Operations & Maintenance, 2009 Edition.”
  2. “Calculate the estimated irrigation water use using the mid-summer baseline case or the month with the highest irrigation demand by determining the landscape area for the project and sorting this area into the major vegetation types. Determine the reference evapotranspiration rate (ET0 ) for the region and determine the species factor (ks ), density factor (kd) and microclimate factor (kmc ) for each vegetation type. Use this information to calculate the landscape coefficient (KL ) and irrigation water use for the design case. Calculate the baseline case irrigation water use by setting the above factors to average values representative of conventional equipment and design practices. Use the estimated and baseline case to determine the percentage reduction in potable water or other natural surface or subsurface resource use. Factor values and other resources for completing these calculations are available in the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Operations & Maintenance, 2009 Edition.”
  3. “If independent irrigation performance and ranking tools are available from local, regional, provincial, state, territorial or national sources, use such tools to demonstrate reductions in potable water or other natural surface or subsurface resource for irrigation purposes.”

Ideas

Source

Some ideas for water efficient landscaping include:

Reducing the amount of grass on your premises
  • Often times turf grass is the biggest “water hog.” It is often over watered and irrigation is set to timers that run at inefficient times or unnecessarily (e.g., how many of you have been to a park when the sprinklers have gone off right after it rained). Instead of turf grass, try artificial grass.
Stone, Pavers, & Tambark
Source
  • Strategically use stones or pavers to create a unique look around any plants, trees, or bushes you might have to give depth and character to your landscaping. Stones, pavers, and tambark also help release ground heat all while keeping the ground cool reducing your need to water.
Plant drought tolerant vegetation
  • Succulents are known for their ability to thrive in desert like conditions. They are a great optionif you’re still looking to maintain plants. Succulents come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Watering at night
  • Make the most of your watering! Rather than watering during the heat of the day, wait till it’s cooler and darker out to reduce the potential for water evaporation.
Have any tips? We’d love to hear how you help save water!
*All quotes are from the LEED website*

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Green Tips: Recycling

We are beyond excited to share our second installment of Green Tips! In this addition, we are sharing some great tips from LEED v4 for Building Operations Management. But specifically how implementing a recycling program can get your building closer to it’s LEED certification!

We all know the importance of recycling. But for those who aren’t green at heart, finding the time to properly recycle waste products can be tricky. A great option to help your employees recycle and keep our earth beautiful is to implement a recycling plan at your workplace! In helping reduce your carbon footprint, your efforts in establishing a recycling program puts your facility a few points closer to achieving LEED certification.

The purpose of LEED’s Ongoing Solid Waste Management Credit is to reduce the waste that is generated by building occupants and hauled to and disposed of in landfills and incinerators. Following these requirements will gain you two points toward your facility’s certification.

Performance

Maintain a waste reduction and recycling program that reuses, recycles, or composts the following:

  • at least 50% of the ongoing waste as specified in Materials and Resources Prerequisite: Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy (by weight or volume); and
  • at least 75% of the durable goods waste as specified in Materials and Resources Prerequisite: Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy (by weight, volume or replacement value).

In addition, safely dispose of the following:

  • all discarded batteries; and
  • all mercury-containing lamps.

There are many different ways to implement this type of system, most popularly being to install recycling bins in carefully and conveniently placed locations around your facility both internally and externally. Additionally, you can have “electronic waste days” where you set aside specific days to properly dispose of batteries, mercury-containing lamps, and any other electronic waste product.

How do you recycle in the workplace? We’d love to hear what works for you and your company. Comment below and let us know what you think!

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Green Tips: Promote Alternative Transportation

We at RSC know the importance and value of Environmental Sustainability. As such, we thought it important to begin a new series called: Green Tips! In it, we feature tools and insights on how to slowly transition your company to be more environmentally friendly and even earn some points toward being a LEED Certified Building.

The best way to promote alternative transportation is by installing bicycle parking. There are a variety of different forms including, but not limited to: bicycle racks, bicycle lockers, and bicycle shelters.  Additionally if you choose one of the choices outlined here, you will be taking a step toward achieving a LEED certification.

Not only does installing bicycle parking promote alternative transportation, but encourage a healthy lifestyle for your employees as well! And everyone knows that happy employees are more productive employees.


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All You Need to Know About Going Green: Pt.1

Interested in going green?  Not quite sure where to begin?  You’ve come to the right place! Today we’d like to share with you some key information and successful tips on going green with our very own Mario Sanchez-Palacios, a LEED Accredited Professional (AP).

It is no secret that going green is becoming more of a priority for everyone.  There are great environmental benefits as well as impacts on a company’s bottom line.  So why aren’t more companies taking that first step to go green?

Going green can be costly.  But it doesn’t have to be!  With a great IWMS, like ARCHIBUS and a hand to guide you, going green really can be simple.

What is LEED?

The United States Green Business Council developed LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, to help change the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated.  LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. It is the most widely recognized and used green building program across the globe, certifying 1.5 million square feet of building space each day. Over 130 buildings satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project.

A LEED AP is an accreditation that demonstrates that an individual understands the complicated LEED green building principles and concepts.  A LEED AP is capable of managing a LEED project and helping projects acquire the appropriate number of points to gain either certified, silver, gold, or platinum building levels.

Where to Begin

There are a few types of Rating Systems that apply to Corporate Real Estate:

  1. Building Design + Construction (BD+C)
  2. Interior Deisgn + Construction (ID+C)
  3. Building Operations + Maintenance (O+M)

Each rating system is made up of a combination of credit categories.  The number of points a project earns, determines the level of LEED certification (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum).

Since not all companies are ready to build, rebuild, do a complete interior fit-out, or do major renovation, the LEED Rating System easiest to start with is Building Operations + Maintenance.  O+M “Applies to existing buildings that are undergoing improvement work or little to no construction; includes Existing Buildings, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, and Warehouse & Distribution Centers.”  1

A few of the applicable credits categories with their corresponding credits for O+M include:

  • Location & Transportation
    • Alternative Transportation
  • Sustainable Sites
    • Rainwater Management
    •  Light Pollution Reduction
    • Heat Island Reduction
  • Water Efficiency
    • Outdoor Water Use Reduction
    • Indoor Water Use Reduction
    • Water Metering
  • Energy & Atmosphere
    • Energy Metering
    •  Refrigerant Management
  •  Materials and Resources
    • Waste Management
    • Purchasing
  •  Indoor Environmental Quality
    • Green Cleaning
    • Indoor Air Quality Management
    • Interior Lighting
  • Innovation
    • LEED AP
  • Regional Priority
    • Specific Credits based on location

A company can earn points for many, many things like: How close the building is to public transportation (BART, Subway, Bus, etc.)?; Does your building have bicycle parking?; Do your windows have reflective blinds?; Is your building eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR rating?; Are 50% of the products and materials your company uses (pens, paper, etc.) or 75% of furniture made from recycled material, bio-based materials, wood, etc.?;  Do you maintain your HVAC systems?; Do you use green cleaning products, materials, and equipment?;  Do you recycle?; Do employees have the ability to control the lighting in their work space? Survey employees/building occupants on their typical transportation patterns once every 5 years; Shade 50% of paved areas; use pavers instead of cement; Install a vegetated roof; Perform waste reduction and recycling program; and many more!


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ARCHIBUS NEWS: Top Strategies for a Greener Corporation

Are you interested in saving money, conserving energy, and reducing your water consumption and carbon footprint? Then you’re likely interested in “going green”, and ARCHIBUS can help.

This post is a summary of Top Strategies for a Greener Corporation, an article put out by Forbes, Kolmer, and Miller:

Environmental sustainability or “going green”, is one of the most important initiatives in the workplace today.  These increasingly common goals of reducing energy use and energy consumption can be accomplished in a variety of ways, all with which an effective IWMS system can help. Commercial building energy use accounts for 18% of all CO2 emissions.  These emissions can be reduced easily by better utilizing office space, which is what IWMS systems do.  Not taking advantage of your IWMS system results in wasted HVAC and lighting costs as well as over expenditures in operating costs (e.g., utilities, taxes, janitorial or maintenance, and physical assets).  By using simple vendor-neutral conservation strategies, your company’s carbon footprint and unnecessary expenses can be drastically decreased and potentially avoided altogether. The article outlines six different ways to accomplish your company’s sustainability goals:

1. Stop Wasting Space

Sounds easy, right?  Well, it is!  “The faster [companies] implement better space management the faster [they] gain the added environmental and economic benefit of lowering energy use and operating expenses” (2014, p.2).  If a company utilizes its space planning and management software by conducting space audits on a routine basis, operations are easily consolidated as vacant space is eliminated.

2. Alarm Your FM Department

Through the integration of a company’s BAS HVAC alarms to its building ops software, the location of problems can be identified on building drawings.  This integration will also “automate issuance of work orders when energy management systems detect performance failures of heat traps and other system components” (2014, p.2).

3. Manage Data Center Heat

Maintaining a balance between power and cooling is the greatest challenge for data centers.  Operational costs may eat up over 50% of some tech budgets on top of whatever it may cost to construct additional space to house these data centers.  To ensure company efforts are not being wasted, implement a “data center management software [that] provides easy graphical visualizations and automatic updates to sever rack inventories” or implement hot/cold aisles in data centers (2014, p.2).

4. Don’t Get Caught in an HVACcuum

Most offices and data centers are not in use 24/7. Too many offices receive round-the-clock HVAC support. Using IWMS software and building drawings, your company can reconfigure space and consolidate HVAC intensive data centers and other operations to reduce after-hour electricity consumption.

5. Telecommuting is Key

Embrace the power of telecommuting! Telecommuting is perhaps one of the greatest ways for a company to go green.  The article describes one company generating 29,000 fewer tons of CO2 emissions and savings of US$63 million in one fiscal year by cutting 6,660 office seats” (2014, p.3).  Furthermore, telecommuting reduces transportation-generated greenhouse gas emissions by reducing commuter traffic.

6. Use KPIs

Key Performance Indicators are the benchmarks against which progress is measured for sustainability initiatives, cost reduction goals, business process improvements and other activities.  “A well thought-out environmental sustainability strategy can deliver up to 10% — and possibly as much as 20% — savings and operational costs” (2014, p.5). As Forbes, Kolmer, and Miller describe, the role IWMS systems play in “going green” are key and the benefits of having a quality functioning system is clear.

Did you know that ARCHIBUS was recently ranked as one of the World’s Largest Software Companies by Software Magazine? That’s just one of the reasons why ARCHIBUS is the number one solution for real estate, infrastructure, and facilities management in the world.

What is your company doing to reduce their carbon footprint?  Need help achieving your sustainability goals?  Reach out to us here at RSC.  We’d love to help you create a greener tomorrow!


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