Considering a building’s operating and maintenance issues during the preliminary design phase of a facility will contribute to improved working environments, higher productivity, reduced energy and resource costs, and prevented system failures. Encourage building operators and maintenance personnel to participate in the design and development phases to ensure optimal operations and maintenance of the building. Designers can specify materials and systems that simplify and reduce maintenance requirements; require less water, energy, and toxic chemicals and cleaners to maintain; and are cost-effective and reduce life-cycle costs. Additionally, design facilities to include meters in order to track the progress of sustainability initiatives, including reductions in energy and water use and waste generation, in the facility and on site.

Building resiliency is the capacity of a building to continue to function and operate under extreme conditions, such as (but not limited to) extreme temperatures, sea level rise, natural disasters, etc. As the built environment faces the impending effects of global climate change, building owners, designers, and builders can design facilities to optimize building resiliency.

Building adaptability is the capacity of a building to be used for multiple uses and in multiple ways over the life of the building. For example, designing a building with movable walls/partitions allow for different users to change the space. Additionally, using sustainable design allows for a building to adapt to different environments and conditions.

No matter how sustainable a building may have been in its design and construction, it can only remain so if it is operated responsibly and maintained properly. The use of toxic cleaning products can deteriorate indoor air quality; failure to test sensor control points on a regular basis can compromise energy efficiency; and poor training can lead to early system failures. Sustainable O&M practices primarily focus on building occupants and encompass safety, security, health, comfort, and productivity with an understanding of the next generation’s need to reuse and recycle building components. In the design and construction process, to the extent possible, select systems that are easily maintained. Ensure operation and maintenance personnel are part of the project planning and development process, including the establishing of commissioning criteria at the onset of a project.

Throughout the building’s life cycle, operations and maintenance should seek to:

Train building occupants, facilities managers, and maintenance staff in sustainable design principles and methods that will minimize system failures;
Purchase cleaning products and supplies that are resource-efficient, bio-degradable and safer for both janitorial staff and building occupants, and thereby improving indoor air quality;
Test sensor control points on a regular basis to ensure energy efficiency is not compromised;
Use automated monitors and controls for energy, water, waste, temperature, moisture, and ventilation;
Reduce waste through source reduction and recycling to eliminate off-site disposal;
Minimize travel by supporting telecommuting programs and enabling a mobile work environment;
Perform scheduled energy audits and re-commissioning of systems; and
When updating a facility or its systems, choose higher efficiency equipment, durable materials that will withstand storms and other natural events, and improve the tightness of the building envelope if feasible.

Train Building Occupants, Facilities Managers, and Maintenance Staff in Sustainability Principles and Methods

Implement a comprehensive, preventive maintenance program to keep all building systems functioning as designed. See WBDG Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM).
Install utilities meters and track progress of applicable energy, water, gas, and waste systems to ensure the optimum performance levels possible. It is not possible to benchmark whole building performance without mapping utility meters.
Provide logistic support and tools to facilities managers and maintenance crews to calibrate, operate and maintain facilities to the extent of the design intent.
Engage building occupants through surveys, education, clear signage, and incentive programs.
Maintain a Certified Energy Manager® (CEM®) on staff to monitor systems, energy costs, and energy conservation initiatives, when cost effective.

Purchase Resource-Efficient and Safer Cleaning Products and Maintenance Services

Use safer cleaners, such as EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) labeled products to maintain or improve indoor air quality.
Look for products that are concentrated, using less packaging.
Use integrated pest management (IPM) practices in facilities and landscaping to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides. IPM has been mandated on federal property since 1996 by Section 136r-1 of Title 7, United States Code, and is cited in Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations (102-74.35) as a required service for agencies subject to the authority of the General Services Administration (GSA).
Use non-toxic pest control for indoor spaces and plants.
Keep air ducts clean and free of microorganisms through a structured program of preventive maintenance and regular filter changes.
Janitorial staff knowledge and training are important to meeting IEQ goals. Janitorial Service Contracts should meet ASTM E1971-05(2011) Standard Guide for Stewardship for the Cleaning of Commercial and International Buildings.

Use Automated Monitors and Controls for Energy, Water, Waste, Temperature, Moisture, and Ventilation Monitors and Controls

Use schedule, occupancy, or luminance sensors to control lighting and other functions. In the absence of sensors, turn off lights when not in use.
Use timers for heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
Turn off computers and equipment when not in use.
Enable power-down features on office equipment (e.g., Energy Star® computers).
Turn off computer monitors when not in use.

Reduce Waste through Source Reduction and Recycling

Develop and implement a waste management policy for building operation, including an initial waste generation and recycling assessment, targets for recycling rates, occupant incentives, and verification on an annual basis as to whether reduction goals are being met. The following materials should be targeted for recycling in the policy: consumer products (e.g. computers, electronic equipment, office supplies, plastics, glass, paper, aluminum); routine maintenance items (e.g. fluorescent and HID lamps) and items from renovation (e.g. acoustical ceiling tiles, carpet tiles, and furniture).
Use on-site composting of organic materials.
Adopt green meeting practices. Evaluate potential hotel and conference center venues that are sustainable in that they recycle, purchase recycled or recyclable items, use nondisposable food and beverage service, have bottle deposits, a plan for leftover food and meeting materials, and practice water and energy conservation.

Support Practices that Encourage Sustainable Transportation or Minimize Travel

Install sufficient bike racks to meet demand.
Designate shuttle/bus stops in safe and accessible areas close to the facility.
Provide sufficient parking spaces for carpools/vanpools.
Support teleconferencing and videoconferencing through proper operations and maintenance of communication systems.
Support telework (aka telecommuting) programs by providing hoteling spaces (flexible and well-equipped office spaces that teleworkers can use when they come into the office) and properly operating and maintained telework centers.