Eliminating Desk Side Trash Cans in Your Office

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In a LinkedIn Facilities Management Group discussion, we discussed how companies are cleaning up the individual workspace garbage in exchange for centrally located garbage collection areas. Whoa, you might say. You mean the employee would actually have to tend to disposing of their own garbage? It sounds incredulous, but it also sounds smart, and may save money too.

The theme is if your staff can walk to deposit sensitive documents in centrally located bins, walk to a central printer, or get a cup of coffee, they can certainly empty their own trash.

One method described is to implement a “four channel waste disposal system.” Your staff can have a very small can for immediate waste and empty them as part of their regular walk around the office. Your strategy should be based on the size of the office, number of workstations, and staff density.

Central waste stations are placed in traffic areas for ease of access. This utilizes existing staff traffic to dispose waste and allows sorting of waste at the source of its creation.

  • Blue recycling bins hold “clean” paper
  • Yellow bins are used for “mixed recycling”
  • Green bins are for compost
  • Red bins are for regular trash.

A very small can stay at each employees desk and the employee empties their trash at the end of the day. The custodial crew picks up the trash from central areas nightly or depending upon the frequency you have set.

Savings are achieved by less custodial time having to go to each desk to collect the trash; no new liners per bin per desk, saves money on waste hauling fees and the recycling companies may pick up the recycling for free. In some cases they may even offer a rebate which in turn offsets waste hauling fees and janitorial labor.

One facility manager describes the keys to success as:

  • To have enough bins that they are not far to walk similar to a pantry or print station
  • The bins should blend with the overall office design e.g. enclosed in a cabinet
  • Signage is clear for the various types of waste

Removing individual desk bins is one of the easiest wins in terms of reducing your cleaning and waste management costs. As one FM mentions, it can save 10% of the labor required for daily office cleaning.

For new spaces and relocation’s, if the policy is set Day 1, the buy in is almost guaranteed. In an existing space, you may be met initially with “you want me to walk how far for what?”  But if you inform your staff ahead of the change along with educational material describing the reasoning, it should not be difficult to implement.

As mindsets have changed and people have embraced recycling concepts, the question now is often “Why do we not centrally recycle?” If the staff already get up multiple times for coffee, tea, bathroom and cigarettes breaks, taking their trash with them should not be a difficult task to require.

Richard Neuman is an Owner’s Rep and Move Consultant with NY based Relocation Management Solutions, Inc. www.relocationmanagement.com

Power to the People! – errr – Cubicle


powerDid you know that in NYC and many smaller municipalities like Garden City, LI, power strips are illegal in commercial offices?  You are not permitted to extend the number of receptacles beyond what is hardwired. If you need four outlets in one location, then you must install two duplex or a quad electrical outlet.

Now, walk around your office cubicle areas and take note of how many people abide by the no power strip rule.  Probably nobody. In fact, unless your facility or office manager does a visual inspection and confiscates them, power strips are used in abundance, and you’re the one who probably ordered them for your staff.

I recently performed inventory of a client who will be relocating. Their existing panel system has only two duplex receptacles per cubicle and here’s what I came up with:
(1) PC
(2) Monitors
(1) Printer
(1) Scanner
(1) Pencil Sharpener
(1) Label Maker
(1) Radio
(1) Fan
(1) Cell Phone
(1) Tablet or Laptop

That’s (11) devices for four receptacles. 

So what do you do? Well, it’s a Catch-22. Many cubicle systems may be pre-wired with only two (2) duplex outlets or four (4) receptacles.  The corrective action for existing systems furniture is to add cubicle power harnesses, which may require additional branch circuits to the electrical panels. But rather than pay for the hardware and an electrician, companies find it more cost-effective to take their chances with illegal power strips. They pin their hopes that the building inspector or fire department will neither visit their offices during their ten year lease, or if they do, that the officials will turn a blind eye.

Of course this can be easily rectified during relocation and many question what is considered “standard” these days? Some will advocate for three (3) duplex outlets; other’s will say four (4) duplex receptacles. It really depends on your needs. The key is taking a detailed inventory, consolidating devices like printers and scanners into central locations, and being creative.

It’s no secret that panel system electrical technology lags behind what is available for everything else. For instance, my inquiry about quad receptacles revealed it is not available as common hardware of the four manufacturers my client is considering. Furthermore, an outlet with dual USB charging ports would remove two power supplies which is now common for standard wall outlets.  But the manufacturer’s reps glaze over at the mention of it for panel systems.

Three things we are considering:
♦ Wiring harness with two (2) duplex outlets at baseline and two (2) duplex at beltline for a total of eight (8) receptacles.
♦ 2-port after-market USB charging/single outlet station for the cell phone and tablet. Beware, you’ll likely engage in finger pointing as to who is responsible for installing them, the furniture installer or the IT folks.
♦ Power and USB receptacle’s in the monitor arm (which seems to me to be an extension cord, but shhhhh)

Whatever configuration you choose, make sure your MEP (Mechanical Electrical Plumbing) Engineer is fully cognizant of your plans early because this will impact the electrical design and circuit panels.

Richard Neuman is an Owner’s Rep and Move Consultant with NY based Relocation Management Solutions, Inc. www.relocationmanagement.com

35.5 Post Construction Peeves from Owner’s Reps


peeveAs project managers, we strive to deliver our client’s commercial interior space free of defects. But trades and vendors still have minor work prior to relocation and don’t often share our vision for perfection.

Jerry Maffia, Senior Project Manager at LPCiminelli in NYC says he sees lots of complaints about some big and some small issues and suggests if there is something specific that he wants a bidder/subcontractor to do (or not do) he writes it into the scope of work. This includes for example, “subcontractor to assure that all doors are closed at the end of the day; clean wire insulation from finished floors, etc.”.  He continues, “Assure that the things that are important to you are called out as a line item in the schedule of values. You now have a vehicle for withholding payment or back charging the offenders.” ail it in, so will the people who you are being paid to oversee.

Brian Bott, Construction Manager from the Hawaiian Islands suggests you perform “Management by Walking Around”. When a topic comes up, you don’t just have to refer to a report, you can refer to “I was there, I saw it myself an hour ago, here’s some pictures.”

Christina Flynn of the Coconino County Facilities Management Department in Flagstaff, AZ says “I instill that carpet, walls, ceiling, elevator and even the rest room facilities will look better than they found them. I put in the contract “site to be left to facility management standards”.

So I’ve asked my colleagues in the LinkedIn “Owner’s Representatives” group to share some of their peeves, along with mine, so you can take note of what to look out for.

Here’s our list of Top Post Construction Peeves

1. Scuffs caused by leaning ladders up against freshly painted walls
2. Moving ceiling tiles with filthy hands that leave marks
3. Sliding ceiling tiles on the grid which causes gouges and scratches on the tile
4. Leaving coffee cups and bags of half eaten food on window sills expecting someone else to clean up after them
5. Electricians and cable pullers who strip wire for systems furniture and wall plates and leave the casings and wire strands all over the new carpet. You just can’t get those strands up.
6. Furniture installers and movers who take furniture off of dollies and use their body against the wall as leverage causing scratches and scuffs

from Wayne Brown, CRE Project Management, Dallas/Fort Worth
7. Carpet installers that scuff the bottom of freshly painted doors and walls during installation, and claim innocence
8. Painters using custom colors that don’t leave the formula behind and/or no touch-up paint left
9. Electricians that leave troffler fixtures dusty or with fingerprints on them
10. LV techs that use desk tops and work stations in lieu of ladders or scaffolds, and disturbed insulation above the tiles
11. Millwork with sawdust in the drawers; pulls or handles poorly fastened/quickly lost.
12. Plumbers that leave sewer P-traps dry before the water is on inside.
13. Landscapers that put topsoil or mulch above weepholes at foundation (not TI, but annoying and problematic!).

from David Harrier, David Harrier – Architect LLC, Dallas/Fort Worth
14. Plumbers that leave the valve and faucets open and the water closets disconnected when they call to have the meter installed and water turned on.  Particle board cabinets can swell 2″ when completely saturated over night, and all due to a main water shut-off valve having been left open.

from Brian Bott, Construction Manager, Hawaiian Islands
15. Clients themselves coming and deciding they want to move walls around, not understanding costs involved to the HVAC zones, sprinkler piping and power/data

from Bob Mitchell, Construction & Development Consultants, LLC, South Boston, VA  
16. Appliances and/or equipment left with the water/power source turned off or disconnects left in the off position
17. Cabinet & drawer keys left inside the drawers/in the doors. Or non labeled and strung on a wire or ring
18. Door hinges being sprung during last minute due to door handles being stuck into the hinge to hold the door open
19. Inadequate mechanical piping labeling
20. HVAC filters not being changed at the end of construction
21. Areas the painter touched up which was not detected until the light hit it different way

from Johnnie C. Morgan, Owner’s Rep with M.A. Center, Hermosa Beach, CA
22. Leaving spaces that seldom get visited, like attics, crawl spaces, mechanical spaces, filthy
23. Not protecting finish surfaces and working over top of them

from Patrick McGarry, Civic Projects Manager at City of Carlsbad, CA
24. Not protecting the data outlets from getting drywall dust in them. When the IT folks go to plug in the phone and computer, the dust impedes a proper connection, making it difficult to understand why the devices do not work. I advise my IT crew to use a can of compressed air and blow out any dust prior to connecting the devices.

from Jerry Maffia, Senior Project Manager at LPCiminelli, New York, NY 
25. Project Managers who do not buy adequate cleaning and protection prior to move-in

from Shawn Tyler, Tycor, Little Rock, AK
26. Air balancing for the HVAC.  Just taking the time (before the end user moves in) to run the system for a couple of days to make sure that every office / break room / file room / etc is equally comfortable. Regarding money savings in design, be careful to understand the comfort that is sacrificed if you decide to save money by not providing returns in each room; especially if it has a door that can be shut.

from Steve Arden, Capital Projects Manager for Mount Vernon Nazarene Univ, Ohio
27.  When contractors prop doors open when the A/C or heating is running and they don’t go back and close them when they are done. The GC does not police this well since the owner usually pays the utility bills.

from David Rigsby, President at Rigsby Project Management, Inc., Roswell, GA
28. Any penetrations in a rated wall that are not sealed properly.

from Roland Wong, Project Manager at Clark Construction, Los Angeles, CA
29. Water infiltration into the building through the cladding/skin
30. Water infiltration through the roofing membrane.
31. Water infiltration through roof mounted HVAC ducts

from Todd Allen, Managing Principal, The ForeSight Partners of Culver City, CA
32. The tenant’s IT pro staring at me on moving day when he/she realized that when the phone company said there were “circuits in the building”, they meant that they’d drop and tag them within the MPOE in the basement, not on the 17th floor.
33. Not getting 100% permit card sign-off because the low voltage vendor didn’t pull a permit or didn’t get ceiling inspection
34. Having the fire marshal stop the final walk-through because the furniture systems are installed but the marshal didn’t grant permission to load the floor with combustible materials
35. Getting money calls for retention payments before I’ve received close-out packages
35.5. Received close-outs from design-build MEP & sprinkler subs with no as-built modifications

Thank you to the members of Owner’s Representatives Group on LinkedIn (moderated by Patrick McGarry Civic Projects Manager at City of Carlsbad, CA) for their contribution to this article.

I’m renovating my office, does the existing bathroom need to be ADA Compliant?


For offices undergoing construction, the general assumption is that all bathrooms, whether newly constructed or remodeled, public or common, be usable by people with disabilities.

Tenants who are renovating their space often believe that ONLY public use restrooms are required to be ADA accessible while Common use toilets do not.  That assumption is incorrect. ADA rules stipulate each public and common use restrooms shall comply with ADA laws. Public use bathrooms are those that are made available for use by the general public and Common use restrooms are provided for two or more people including offices that do not see the general public.

Other restrooms such as for the sole use by an occupant of a private office shall be made “adaptable”. An adaptable restroom requires clear floor space and minimum door widths.  Other items such as grab bars, accessible faucets and plumbing fixtures can be installed later when needed.

Existing bathrooms are not grandfathered by the ADA.  Even if alterations are not made, an existing public use restroom must provide for accessible features when feasible.

An alteration is defined as:

A change to a building or facility that affects or could affect the usability of the building or facility or portion thereof.  Alterations include, but are not limited to, remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, resurfacing of circulation paths or vehicular ways, changes or rearrangement of the structural parts or elements, and changes or rearrangement in the plan configuration of walls and full-height partitions.  Normal maintenance, painting or wallpaper, or changes to mechanical and electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or facility.

In bathroom alterations, an altered fixture must be made accessible. For instance, if you are replacing a faucet, it must be replaced with an accessible faucet. And altering one item does not necessarily require compliance for existing items.

Bathroom Before Compliance

Bathroom Before Compliance

Bathroom After Compliance

Bathroom After Compliance

Even if there are no restroom alterations planned, renovations to the surrounding area served by the restroom may trigger ADA compliance.  This is referred to as an alteration to an area containing a primary function.  Offices and conference rooms are considered primary function areas. Therefore, if they are altered, the restrooms serving that altered area are required to be made accessible.  Hallways, restrooms and break rooms would not be considered primary function areas.

Options for Existing Restrooms and exceptions for achieving compliance include:

  • A single accessible unisex restroom can be provided if it is determined that compliance in the existing restrooms is technically infeasible. The unisex restroom must be provided on the same floor and in the same area as the existing inaccessible restrooms.
  • In a multi-user restroom, smaller accessible toilet stalls may be allowed if it is technically infeasible to provide the standard accessible stall or if a reduction in fixtures (to provide a double-wide stall) is not permitted by the plumbing code.

It is also permitted to use a single unisex accessible restroom when compliance for the existing restrooms is technically infeasible, but it does not allow the use of the alternate accessible toilet stalls. Technically infeasible is defined as something that has little likelihood of being accomplished because existing structural conditions would require removing or altering a load-bearing member that is an essential part of the structural frame; or because other existing physical or site constraints prohibit modification or addition of elements, spaces, or features that are in full and strict compliance with the minimum requirements.

Where multiple single-user restrooms are clustered at a single location, at least 50 percent but not less than one room for each use at each cluster shall be accessible.

For more information see ADA Standards for Accessible Design

Paper towels or hand dryers in your bathrooms?


Are paper towels less costly to your facility than running and maintaining a hand dryer? It’s a tricky question, especially if you are a tenant verses an owner.

The debate is usually based on carbon footprint and costs, but for infection control (hospital type environment ) hand dryers have a tendency to be less hygienic than paper towels. There have been experiments carried out and under ultra-violet light the spread of germs caused by the air-flow can be quite extensive.

But both methods have their benefits.  Paper towel probably has a greater environmental impact than hand dryers especially when you consider papers towel’s production (water and energy consumption), packaging (energy consumption), transportation (fuel energy consumption) and storage (energy consumption). You should also consider the labor required to replenish the hand towel, removal of the waste from the bathroom, and then the disposal of the waste from site.

With government legislation requiring buildings to be energy rated, especially the new Local Law 87 in NYC which requires energy benchmarking, having hand towels installed means that as a tenant (typically) you won’t pay the electricity costs that would otherwise be passed on if you had hand dryers installed. Increased energy costs will obviously impact on either your tenancy or buildings rating performance.

A LinkedIn contributor conducted a trial and installed dryers vs. paper towel.  While the dryers appeared to be the better solution (Dyson were the preferred choice), they observed a small increase in their energy costs. As they were looking to reduce overall energy consumption (and thus carbon footprint) to improve our energy rating, they are now considering staying with paper towel.

From a hygienic point of view, the paper towels are more effective as the paper is fresh and clean. The dryers recirculate air within the bathroom and are therefore not hygienic.  Airbone fecal matter is recycled through the air intake, filtering through the filament and germinating until someone starts the dryer again where it is transferred onto your hands.

There are products on the market that are extremely cost effective and energy efficient such as the Dyson airblade which studies show will pay for itself within a 26 month period. They are extremely energy efficient and require little maintenance.

Paper towels can contribute to a significant amount of problems from people putting them into toilets and causing blockages needing to be cleared etc, along with this they are also a fairly costly item that are replenished on a highly regular basis.

The environment should dictate the equipment or facility used or be viewed in such a way as to cover all aspects of the situation and requirements.

How do you deal with Graffiti at your facility?


Graffiti is everywhere; it is unsightly, costly to business and ruins public spaces.  These “taggers” consider themselves graffiti artists and not property defacers. The important thing is to remove any graffiti as soon as it appear, otherwise it becomes an open invitation for others to add to.

What steps you take to maximize protection on the business premises you maintain.

There are actually two issues, that being indoor and outdoor graffiti. For outdoors graffiti, you can use environmentally friendly graffiti removal solutions that are applied over the tag, let it sit and keep it from drying on by reapplying if required (application time is the most important step for good results). You then use high pressure hot water to wash it off.  The hardest removals are porous surfaces which often leave “shadow” effects. The solution dissolves the graffiti and the hot powerful spray gets in at it.

Indoor (primarily bathroom stalls and walls), you’ll want to use less aggressive products trying not to cut into the existing surface paint on walls. Some FM’s report they have had success with surface sealers that repel graffiti, however this makes resurfacing of the area (repainting) difficult. There are other products which is applied on the existing surface that can be peeled off (like a skin) when covered with graffiti.

There are also some very good anti graffiti paints on the market which make it much more easier to remove graffiti.

Here are some product suggestions from FM’s:

Graffiti Armour is a product that provides a clear coat protection to any masonry surface and if anyone tries to graffiti a surface protected by Graffiti Armour it just wipes off with water.
Graffiti Stripper removes graffiti from any unprotected surfaces.
Dymon’s “Scrubs Graffiti Remover” towels

The best approach is probably a combined proactive and reactive approach. Use something like the Graffiti Armor for initial protection and then respond quickly with regards to removal.

Update – November 30, 2012
Mary Arabia-Galgon, Senior Property Manager at Century 21 Advantage-Gold in Philadelphia contributed the following information via the BOMA LinkedIn Discussion Group: “Try as well to contact local graffiti removal community groups. In Philadelphia, we call the Center City District, they come right out and remove graffiti at no charge.

Mary is indeed correct. I did a quick search here in NYC and they have a similar program via the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit called Graffiti Free NYC. It offers free graffiti removal to properties throughout the five boroughs. The program will only remove graffiti from private property below the second story. Barring special circumstances, this does not include lampposts, sidewalks or signage.

How often should you replace the belts of the roof fans?

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Part of routine maintenance is to replace the belts of your rooftop fans regularly. A basic routine might be simply walking past the equipment on a monthly basis during good weather for a visual and audible inspection that may identify developing problems such as chipped belts or bad bearings. Taking the cover off once a year to inspect the bearings, motor and mounts will provide long life and assure the cover removal will not be a 4 hour job if you need to. Also, removal of the cover properly will help correct it. Don’t forget to re-install it so winds do not blow it off the roof.

There are many factors affecting the belts’ lifetime and a number of factors should be taken into account:

• Climate – hot, cold, humid, damp etc.
• Running time
• What the equipment feeds
• Condition of the pulleys
• Pulley ratio
• Motor and drive type
• Quality and type of belt, pulley, motor
• Cracks in belt

Many times it is better to undertake condition based or business critical maintenance in order to identify the best type of maintenance required. Inspections might be performed at best quarterly and minimally, semi annually. Cracking and glazing would warrant change out, although you should be looking at any causes for failure such as pulley misalignment, bearing problems or over and under tensioning.

The first time you replace the belt, measure the diameter of the adjustable sheave and replace it with a proper sized fixed sheave. Adjustable sheaves are “belt eaters”. You should be able to skip a winter visit when the roofs are dangerous if you check the rest of the year.

If you are breaking belts on a regular basis, when the fan is on a time clock start/stop, then try to step up your belt profile. If you are changing belts twice a year for the sake of it, on a 24/7 fan, its time to get yourself a decent Fitter who can adjust your belt tension, and not give it a walk by test. Stock levels of belts should be inline with the amount you use and if you have a few different types of belts on site, try to standardize your belt sizes so that you don’t need to stock many.

A laser tool can be used to ensure alignment on the semi-annual preventative maintenance and when new belts are installed.

Most drive belts only last about one year. It is, therefore, a good practice to change them annually. If you do not do this, they often end up breaking and creating downtime and a service call. Some exhaust fan belts can break without anyone initially noticing until odor control becomes a problem.

If the belt supports a very critical safety function like a hazardous materials fume hood, you should check it more often to make sure it’s not out of adjustment or any other part of the ventilation system is having problems. And replace the belt at the first sign of wear, or perhaps even yearly even if it looks good just to be safe.

TV Studio Flooring – How do you get those smooth Camera Moves?


A television studio client of ours faced a flooring problem in a recently acquired turn of the century building (the one before last). How do you take a rough, rotted, timber plank floor and make it level and smooth suitable for television cameras and pedestals to glide easily on? The photo above depicts a typical smooth studio floor (photo credit: Ronacrete).

Television and film stages are unique in that floors have to be hard enough and dent resistant so the weight and constant use of sets, equipment, ladders, scissor lifts, audience risers and audiences, lighting trusses and day to-day demands of carpenters don’t cause the floor bonding to sink in. They must be smooth so the wheels of a camera pedestal will glide or truck around smoothly without bumps, dents and vibrations that would cause the camera lens to shake.  Camera “dollies” or “pedestals” in TV and production studios need floors that are seamless and super-flat simply because cameras must track smoothly during taping or filming. They also need some acoustical value to mitigate sound transmission in what should be a quite box.

I was general manager of NYC television studio and faced similar flooring challenges.  One 3,600 sq ft stage had resin over vinyl tile and the tile warped causing the top coat resin to buckle. This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72IITaox0FE shows a similar situation where the studio floor disintegrated in spots. The problem here was over coat disbondment.  The solution was to remove the existing surface and resurface with epoxy build system and coated with high definition chemical resistant coating.

There are several solutions that studios deploy that were discussed in a LinkedIn discussion group.

1. Double overlayed plywood floors floated on a hard foam base.

2. Plywood and gypsum sandwiched floors.

3. Concrete can be used but of course the weight becomes an issue.  A structural engineer should be consulted to calculate the load and approve its use.

4. Topping the wood with self-leveling resin that is super tough on a busy TV studio floor is the most popular solution.

Ardex makes self-leveling portland based concrete toppings that are often specified for TV studios. K-500 can be applied 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 in thick and can be tapered down to 1/16 inch for thresholds. Mixed with pea gravel it can go up to 5 inches thick. K-500 can be coated with a quality floor paint/sealer (see recommendations) in 24+ hours. SD-T is the “fast track” version and can be applied 1/4 inch to 2 inches thick. SD-T can be coated with recommended floor paint in about 2 to 4 hours. Prep, prime and let dry, pour the topping and let it cure, then cover with appropriate floor paint.

Each new studio set may potentially require floor repainting so the floor screed must be able to withstand this constant paint application and removal.  A good high chemical resistance paint should be applied for this purpose.

To reduce the noise in a studio floor, an EVA rubber floor underlayment can be used to mitigate noise transmission if you aren’t using big pneumatic pedestals. EVA stands for ethylene vinyl acetate. It’s a plastic foam material and does not actually contain any rubber. This material is also known as acetate.

Another option is TV Tiles which are made in large 36 inch squares that provide a flat, smooth floor for television studios.

What have you used?

What Have You Done For Your Tenants Today?

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Publisher’s note: Many tenants just don’t feel the love from their landlord. They are sometimes treated as if the landlord is doing a favor by allowing them in their building. You hope the property manager’s primary concern should be all about customer service, tenant satisfaction and retention. But often that isn’t always the case. Here’s what every tenant wishes to tell their landlord.  Enjoy, Richard Neuman

By Linda Day Harrison, CPM, CCIM, Contributing Columnist

If you think being a Property Manager is about maintenance, utilities, contracting, technology advances or troubleshooting, you are sadly mistaken. Property Management is about “Customer Service” first. The entire purpose and being of a Property Manager is about tenant satisfaction and tenant retention. There is nothing else it is about.

With each maintenance item, utility bill, new technology and contract signed, it is about the end result: Customer Satisfaction and Service. It is probably the last thing you hear folks talk about or plan for or think of, and it should be the first! Each day you are on the job you need to start your day with: What have I done for the tenants today? If you ask that question and honestly address it, you will be an excellent Property Manager. Remember, if the tenants are happy, the building owner should be happy.

Now, I know there are some building owners who are never happy and will never care if the tenants are happy. There are always a few bad apples in every batch, but for the most part, savvy building owners who really care about the bottom line do get it. It is really the naive building owner who does not get it. Quite simply, tenant retention is everything about Property Management.

With times being so tough it forces many to realize that their treatment of their tenants will surely rear its ugly head if the tenants have not been considered first. When you think about it, this just makes good business sense. Why would any business operate against the customer? Why would any business plan its operations around annoying customers? It makes you wonder sometimes when tenants are treated badly or ignored. That is absolutely insane. Why would you not answer the phone with each ring or respond like a lightning bolt with each work order request? I say it is pure training and education. Most folks who are trained or mentored are not always taught the importance of being nice and the simple rule that the customers come first.

Today it is paramount. It is not optional. The tenants must be considered and respected or they will move. It is that simple. When you look at the massive effort it takes to find a NEW tenant! OMG, you are lame if you do not treasure the tenants you have. If a tenant moves, that should be like a knife in your heart and it should hurt really bad. Nobody wants to lose a tenant today.

Now I realize that there are tenants who go out of business; but I am talking about a tenant who moves to another location. You must avoid that at all costs! You should never let a tenant leave your building. All of the staff must have that drilled into their heads. It must be the #1 thing they eat, drink and sleep, literally. It should be like propaganda on everything they use or work with. Make it your tag line and make it stick. Put it at the bottom of every timesheet, email or on every work order ticket. No matter what you do, every single member of the operations, housekeeping, security, contracting, suppliers and so on, must know this is your entire reason for being.

Once you are sure each member of your team is committed, the next thing is to create your program each year. Literally walk through each month of the year and create a theme or program or whatever you can do. It must involve everyone. That means, contracting services, staff members, and any other groups who touch your tenants must be on board with the plan. Include your contracting service vendors in the events and in sponsoring the events. The motto must be – We are in business because of the tenants and we appreciate the business very much!! That can be said in a ton of different ways, but you get the drift. Create a code word that equals your message.

If you come to the building every day with that message in your head, it will make a difference. Just think about being in the tenants’ shoes. How do they see the building, the staff, the contract service vendors? Do they see a group of folks they are proud to work with or do they see sloppy and messy or rude folks? All of that makes a difference and can make a tenant move as a result.

There is no room for error here. The Property Manager is the leader of the team and the leader must think of the tenants in every project, every thought, every maintenance plan, etc. How you ask? Well first of all communication is the #1 thing. Today there is so much technology you can use for free, especially email. Be sure all of the occupants of your property know what is going on. That is the most effortless and basic thing you can do. For instance, if you are doing anything to improve the building, tell them about it. Also let the tenants know what to expect. That is the most basic rule of customer service. Hang signs, hand out flyers, whatever you can do. Plaster it in the restrooms, whatever works for your configuration or building traffic flow. Nobody wants to walk in to the office and ask, what is going on. They should already know. Give all tenants advance notice!! Do not wait until the last minute. Why? Because that tenant may be planning a big event themselves, or they may have VIP visitors coming to town. Encourage them to tell you about their significant visitors or meetings. Why? Because you can help to welcome those visitors as well. You can spread the word to the staff to be on the lookout or to help people get into the building with boxes or whatever. It is jumping through hoops and making them feel special.

There are so many ideas on tenant retention and most of them are truly common sense and not rocket scientist level stuff. They are old fashioned and traditional courtesies or ideas that show people you care. Your goal is to have the nicest and friendliest staff in the world! If you can create a powerful team, you have it cinched. If you have cranky or ornery folks among you, they will have to go if they fail to follow your leadership. I am sorry to say, but you will have to hire nice people who can deliver the best customer service possible. Do not compromise that point. You can always give folks a chance to change, but if they do not change, they must be asked to leave.

Just remember to ask yourself – What have I done for the tenants today? – and if you do that simple thing each day, you will be on the road to excellent Property Management and superior Customer Service which all lead to high levels of tenant retention that you can count on at your property.

Written by Linda Day Harrison, CPM, CCIM. Linda founded theBrokerList.com in an effort to create efficiency and streamlined operations for the commercial real estate industry, including, property and facility management, leasing and brokerage.

66.5 Best Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Office or Facility


Having a good Energy Philosophy will reduce energy consumption in your office or facility. Here’s some of the best recommendations from professionals who discussed the topic in a LinkedIn discussion group.

1. In the 1980’s it was called Management by Walking Around. Get out and peek into those nooks and crannies of your buildings. The messier the mechanical spaces the more likely inefficiencies hide there.
2. Look for puddles, piles of fallen insulation, and clouds of vapors.
3. Listen for cycling boilers, screeching belts, and thumping bearings.
4. In the morning, drive around your complex looking for plumes of steam, melted snow, water, ice, any anomalies.
5. Identify champions for specific topics (e.g. monitoring energy efficiency of small office equipment such as printers, kitchen equipment, PCs etc); switching lights off overnight (obvious but how many buildings are still illuminated at 10pm!).
6. Identify an ‘out-of-hours’ working area Create an energy efficiency profile.
7. Review your utility billing history and watch for unexpected use patterns. Once that is completed, have a supplier provide a thorough retro-commissioning study and be sure that your existing equipment is performing to design specification. Don’t even think of considering new equipment or systems until this is done!
8. Negotiate a better deal with your utility provider – this will not reduce consumption but will reduce cost.
9. Determine whether your supply of lighting and HVAC match the needs of the users.
10. Become familiar with EPS’s Energy Star. This is a free web site that provides a great benchmark for you to evaluate where your building stands as compared to others. The web tool takes into account your weather pattern, building type, age, etc. so it is normalized in the comparison.
11. Find an Energy Broker that can put your Electric use out to be bid on by several energy suppliers so that you can procure the best rate.

12. We all like to think our mechanics catch things. Do not assume. Take time to read work orders even if you have assigned their approval to a supervisor. Many times end users resign themselves to inefficient conditions after repeated calls.
13. Always watch for the “schmoozer” mechanic who visits, talks, blames management or poor engineering, and never does anything.
14. Schedule equipment operation for business and non-business hours.
15. Deploy Variable Speed Drives VSD’s (aka VFD – variable frequency drives) for Motors in HVAC system 3hp and above. At a minimum they can be used for setback, saving energy at times of low load. At a maximum they can be controlled in various variable flow situations to use the absolute minimum energy required to meet your requirements.
16. TXV (Thermostatic Expansion Valves) systems should have their TX valves checked and adjusted periodically. Correct TXV adjustments are critical to system efficiency.
17. Optimize utilization of BMS (Building Management Systems) for HVAC operation.
18. Conduct performance audit of all the equipments and, if required, replace the old equipments with energy-efficient one’s wherever required.
19. Increase your cooling water set point a few degrees. Control the room temperature ranges tighter and be sure that every BMS point is performing as designed.
20. Hire a trusted contractor to perform a level 2 or 3 Energy Audit.
21. Deliver the right amount of energy to HVAC systems – static pressure in the ducts, % of outside air, filtration, air changes per hour, ect.
22. Shut down the AC for the weekend(s) unless specifically requested.
23. Adjust IT room temps to 69 or 70 where possible.
24. Proper building pressurization will affect how your process burners operate, as well as have an impact on your chiller and other compressor systems in the building.
25. Every 5 years check the ductwork and air handling units to see if they need cleaning.  Clean them if they need it.  Clean the coils and cooling towers every year or more if they need it.
26. Make sure that any heating you are using is as energy-efficient as possible – modern boilers use much less energy than old ones, and are far better for the environment. Make sure that the heat and energy they produce is not lost though bad insulation, too! Make the heat you pay for count.
27. Where feasible, HVAC air balance and HVAC secondary pumping system saves money.
28. Deliver the energy just in time.  If no one is there don’t run your air handlers/lights. If no one is in the lab, cut back the Air Change rate from 6 to 3.
29. Install ambient control on chiller starts and staging of chillers.
30. If you have economizer controls on your air handlers, are they working correctly?
31. If you have a large campus, consider connecting the buildings heating and cooling so that you can operate as a central plant with redundant equipment, instead of separate stand alone building systems.  Even if you have only 3 buildings and each has its own chillers and boilers, there will be many times when you can support all three by only firing the equipment in one building up and few times when you can’t support the load by running two instead of three. When they’re not connected you practically always have to have each buildings equipment like chillers, running, all the time even if the load is extremely light.  That not only uses a lot of expensive electricity, it also makes it hard to service any one building during business hours.  When they’re connected you can do practically anything you want including replacing equipment, during normal business hours, and all of your buildings can still be up and running.
32. Don’t have big chillers running at min capacity 24/7 to support very light loads, like computer rooms in huge office buildings.  It there are a few small 24/7 loads in a much larger environment that only needs to be on 12 hours a day 5 days a week, install separate smaller equipment to support that load. When chillers are running, they consume a tremendous amount of power, even if they’re just supporting a bare minimum load.  It’s much better to have one fully loaded chiller, than 2 supporting light loads and even better to shut the big stuff off and run a small A/C unit to keep your computer room cool when the building is empty.

33. Upgrade your inefficient lighting to energy-efficient fixtures. If you upgrade your lighting you can reduce the number of fixtures and remove real demand from your load.
34. If you retrofit to a Digital Lumens LED Intelligent Lighting System, you can save up to 90% on your lighting bills.
35. Install lighting timers.
36. Replacing T12 fluorescent bulbs with T5’s or LEDs.  Installing LED lighting can give you an ROI of 1-3 yrs saving 75% on the lighting portion of the electric bill.
37. All parking lot lights do not need to burn all night in some areas.  Only a few security interior and exterior lights should burn after closing depending on location and security needs.
38. Retrofit all Neon signs to LED’s.
39. Install Motion Sensors for rooms that don’t need the lights on all day – including closets.
40. Turn lights out when not in use, like the board room. If there is no one in a section, floor, area then turn off the lights.
41. Go past your building after dark and see if its lit up like a Christmas tree.
42. Use daylight instead of turning on office lights, where you can.

43. For retail operations, have the janitor(s) come into the store in the a.m. with the early stocking crew. Clean the sales floor first.  If the sales area is tile, have the closing crew sweep the floor the night before so that the janitor moves out onto the floor with the scrubber prior to customers coming into the store. Both the stocking crew and the janitor can work with half lights.  The rest of the cleaning chores can easily be done with customers in the store.  If your a.m. customer foot traffic is high reverse the order of chores and have the scrubbing and buffing done at or just before closing.  It usually takes the closing crew 20 or more minutes after closing to get out of the store, this is an ideal time to run the buffer.  The janitor goes out the door with the closing crew.  (The janitor does not take the trash out, have one of your employees do it.)

44. If you are in need of roof repairs, or replacement, look into cool-roofing / cool-wall solutions which helps reduce energy usage from air conditioning. Cool roofing allows you to reduce your cooling costs by 20-30%
The Department of Energy has also put out a cool-roof calculator to show the energy savings that you can realize from these systems. Most states and even the federal government offer rebates if you install a cool roof. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/facts/CoolCalcEnergy.htm

45. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! Identify your areas of intensive energy use and get them metered. Feed the data into a central monitoring and targeting software system to track any deviations from optimal performance.
46. Benchmark performance against other similar buildings within your portfolio, audit the best performing sites to identify best practice and then audit the worst performing sites to apply the lessons learned and adopt further no cost, low-cost or capital cost improvement projects that may extend to involve some of the solutions outlined above.
47. Use infrared video to document areas of heat loss or excess heat.
48. Add CO monitoring in underground parking so ventilation only runs when air quality is threatened.
49. Good on-line monitoring and energy analysis software that allows you to: (1) Benchmark all your facilities, helping to decide where to focus your budget. (2) Use whatever hardware (meters) you have already installed in your facilities. (3) Integrate with your BMS variables, controlling them when it’s necessary. (4) Alert you in non-energy-efficient uses (5) analyzes your load curve and gives you automatic recommendations.

50. Conduct water audits, installing smart meters, reducing bills, finding the best tariffs and best times to buy etc.
51. Install water aerators in taps.
52. Most people think only of water savings when replacing old shower heads with more efficient low flow.  But, the energy to heat the water must be also be considered when calculating overall savings.  Low flow heads generate savings from the reduced cost of heating the water.
53. Water used for Urinals is one area where many facility managers give a pass. 40% of water bill is contributed by usage in Urinals. There are Eco-Cubes which can be used in Urinals which minimises the usage of water in Urinals.


54. Demand Response programs pay larger users of electricity significant dollars for their commitment to reduce electric usage during periods of instability on the electric grids.

55. Planned preventive maintenance is regular, repetitive work done to keep equipment in good working order and to optimize its efficiency and accuracy. This activity involves regular, routine cleaning, lubricating, testing, calibrating and adjusting, checking for wear and tear and eventually replacing components to avoid breakdown.


56. Replace old hand dryers with energy-efficient units as they can use 80% less energy.

57. Look into high-efficiency transformers for loads that cycle significantly. “Right” sizing, a transformer minimum load, whenever it is powered, is about 1.5% of its rated capacity. This is independent of the plug load. Utility rebates, where available make this a very cost-effective approach.
58. Consider double ended load centers; if the load is no longer critical or the utility has combined the A&B feeds both transformers would consume 1.5% .
59. Closing the tie bar and shutting off one feed on a typical industrial load center can save about $3,000 per year.
60. Install a power factor correction unit at main incoming electrical supply feed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_factor. Payback is usually 2 years
61. If Line Loss is a concern for your business due to the amount of motors generating your equipment, look into a new Inductive Capacitor. Upgrading from an old capacitor greatly reduces the amount of electricity lost by recycling the escaping electricity. Businesses usually see a 20%-40% reduction in electricity.

Note: The introduction of Power Factor Correction capacitors is a widely recognized method of reducing an electrical load, thus minimizing wasted energy and hence improving the efficiency of a site and reducing the electricity bill. Beginning January 2011, New York State’s large electric customers, for example, have begun paying for reactive power via a penalty payment. Improve your facility’s power factor and you can reduce or even eliminate the reactive-power costs. The payback is impressive and will provide many indirect benefits as well including LEED points, increased system capacity and improved power quality. Power Factor Correction Devices stores excess power until needed, that if unchecked, would have been wasted as heat, by air conditioning compressors, fans, pumps, appliances, machinery and other inductive motors. Power factor correction can be an important part of utility cost control but know that power factor correction has real value only when the utility has power factor penalties that are applicable to your facility, (not everyone will benefit).   A discussion with your local utility provider is always advisable to determine if correction is warranted (and to what level) to maximize the ROI on your investment.

62. Depending on the facilities, Solar is good way to off set peak energy usage.  Depending on the requirements and the building, you can effectively supplement your energy usage with solar cells.  They are able to get cost down to 7 years on ROI and effectively hedge a specific portion of your energy costs over the long-term.

63. Conventional vending machines can use an average of 3000-4000 kilowatt-hours (Kwh) per year per machine.  They may also use older style refrigeration units that produce heat, which contributes to higher air temperatures in offices etc, increasing the running costs of AC.
64. Savings of up to 50% can be achieved on energy usage when changing to new machines running on ‘flash boilers’, efficient refrigeration and LED lighting.
65. There are proximity switches which put the machines in ‘stand by’ when not in use and can switch them off altogether overnight in an office where they will not be used.
66. Water filter units for hot drinks machines, will reduce lime-scale in hard water areas, allowing the boilers to operate to maximum energy efficiency.
66.5 Remote intelligent media modules can allow a machine that has a fault to report its own problems, which calls an engineer out or allows online maintenance to be completed.

Why does this list end at 66.5?  Because this is simply a primer for opportunities to make your office or facility more efficient. There are dozens more but this should get you started.

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