The concept of eco-friendly buildings and plants is not new. As the interest in better environmentally friendly practices continues, maintenance managers must play their part as well. The way we use our facilities has continuously played a major part in environmental pollution. As of June 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that CO2 emissions from buildings had risen again after flattening between 2013 and 2016, with the highest levels ever recorded in 2019. We can do better. Here is what maintenance managers can start doing today to make a difference.

1) Change the Culture 

You could invest in more eco-friendly equipment and assets all you want. Yet, if those responsible for monitoring and maintaining the building do not understand eco-friendly principles and methods and why these changes are necessary, you will record short-lived results at best.

Before rushing into anything, take a step back. Get your team and other building users to understand and embrace the new operational changes and why these changes are required. Doing this will save you a lot of time and effort later on. You could formulate a specific training program tailored to your building or introduce your staff to online resources like the Energy Star website for a start.

2) Better Waste Management

The waste generated from your building presents an often overlooked opportunity for establishing impactful eco-friendly practices. Some ideas you may want to explore include:

  • Reducing waste at the source by reusing materials for as long as it’s safely possible, then evaluating your recycling and composting options.
  • Using recycled construction and demolition (C &D) materials when next you’re embarking on a renovation project. You can find various materials including concrete, metals, wood, and cardboard, that are still in very good condition. Doing this helps reduce construction waste in local landfills and could save you some money as well. In addition, this helps with energy conservation since you are helping to reduce the natural resources that would have been expended while extracting, manufacturing, and transporting new building materials and the inevitable greenhouse emissions released during all these processes. 

3) Better Energy Management 

Among other factors, the IEA report quoted earlier identified electricity and heating in buildings as the main contributors to direct and indirect emissions. Therefore, an area you must look into is electricity and energy consumption in your building. To know where to focus your energy management efforts, start by using simple energy tracking tools to monitor consumption. Then procure and use more energy-efficient assets like tools, spare parts, lighting, and HVAC systems.

Here are a few recommendations to help with energy management in your facility:

  • Use more energy-efficient equipment such as Energy Star rated products. Although they may come at a higher upfront price, since they consume less energy, you should begin to see some reduction in your electricity bills thereby justifying their cost in the long run. 
  • In your eco-friendly endeavors, one area that you certainly cannot afford to overlook is your building’s lighting systems. If you still use standard lighting products and fluorescent lights, devise a plan to phase them out and replace them with LED lamps gradually. LED lights produce much less heat and are known to use between 75 and 80 percent less energy than incandescent lamps. Additionally, LED lights last many times longer than most standard lighting products. Again, this reduces the electrical trash coming from your facility.
  • Another area to watch is your heating, ventilation, and cooling systems (HVAC). Ranging from industrial-sized boilers and chillers to smaller air-conditioning units, these assets can easily account for 40 percent or more of your building’s monthly energy bill. But by optimizing these systems, you can expect a noticeable drop in energy usage. There are several tools that you can use for optimizing HVAC units. Popular ones include real-time energy tracking software and apps, temperature sensors, flow meters, and power meters.

4) Encouraging Environmentally Friendly Practices

In addition to all the above, there are several practices that you could introduce into your day-to-day facilities management to make your building greener, such as:

  • Depending on how large your operations are, you could end up saving tons of paper waste yearly by going from paper-based to digital operations like the city of Spokane, Washington did.
  • Reducing unnecessary movement, transportation costs, and fuel consumption by using mobile devices to communicate. For instance, with a mobile CMMS, your maintenance team can remotely assign jobs, receive notifications, and even guide other team members working out in the field.
  • Curbing water wastage and overuse through installing water-efficient sanitary ware and appliances. Also, consider planting drought-resistant plants if your facility is located in a drier region. 
  • Using eco-friendly products and chemicals for major activities especially cleaning and fumigation. Check that the products used in your facility are environment-friendly and biodegradable and that they are as safe as possible for indoor use because of air quality concerns. You also don’t want to use products that increase the risk of groundwater pollution. A good place to check for more information on this is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safer choice standard.

5) Promote Adequate Preventive Maintenance Management

Another way that you can make your operations more eco-friendly is to implement a preventive maintenance program. Your buildings and equipment will last longer if they are kept in optimal condition. However, note that preventive maintenance should be just right – not too little or too much. 

Maintenance that’s done too frequently means more spare parts and materials will be used and wasted, while inadequate maintenance means that assets are prone to accelerated wear and tear through frequent breakdowns, thereby not reaching their full expected lifespan. In both cases, you’re spending more money than necessary and wasting materials. 

The best way to achieve the right balance between both extremes is to adhere to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) instructions, implement a preventive maintenance program, and deploy computerized maintenance software to streamline and boost your efforts. If that is an option, consider implementing condition-monitoring technology so you have real-time overview on the health of your assets. This will ensure you are doing maintenance only when it is actually needed.

Final Thoughts

While eco-friendly facilities are not a new idea, some maintenance managers avoid it thinking that it’s going to demand more of their time. Others believe that it’s expensive to make the required adjustments. They fail to see the big picture – that the initial costs of going green eventually pays off in the long run, it benefits the facility itself, the occupants, and the environment at large.  

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations. Contact him via LinkedIn at
Image: Tekton on Unsplash