Facility managers should never underestimate the value of their cleaning contractor when it comes to sustainability. Medallion has been working with many facilities helping them reduce water consumption, energy, and waste. Often, our cleaning staff knows your facility so well, they can suggest new ways to operate your facility in a leaner, more efficient manner, which invariably results in cost savings.
One way to do this is by reducing the amount of energy used for such things as powering electronics, copiers, computers, and space heaters. These items are all part of what is referred to as the “plug load.” Keeping these electronics up and running every day can represent as much as 20 percent of a facility’s total electrical consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Stephen Ashkin, a leading advocate for sustainablity in the professional cleaning industry, has put together a program that attempts to cut back plug load consumption, and it might just work for you. He suggests color-coding sustainability. It is very dependent on your cleaning contractor and the custodial workers in your facility because they are the ones that will make it happen.
Here’s how it works:
In the course of cleaning, custodial workers often find lights, computers, copiers, and other electronic devices still on even though no one has used them for several hours. Do they need to be on? If not, let’s turn them off. This can save considerable amounts in electricity costs and for some electronic devices, even extend their life expectancy.
We select four colors, let’s say red, green, blue and yellow, or whatever works for you. We now make small dots, which will be inconspicuous when placed on doors, light switches, or electronics.
A red dot would be placed on lights, equipment, and power sources that should be left on if found on at the end of each workday and on weekends.
A green dot would be placed on items that should be turned off at the end of workdays and on weekends.
A yellow dot on a power source or piece of equipment would signify that building management or a designated person should be notified that these systems are on. That person will then instruct the custodial workers on how to handle the situation.
A blue dot would indicate an item, such as a vending machine, should be turned off, but only on weekends or during holidays.
Color-coding systems are not new to the professional cleaning industry. In fact, they have been used for decades to designate the use of specific tools, equipment, processes in cleaning, and overall building operations. Using them to promote sustainability is just a new use of this concept.
When we realize just how large a role plug load plays in a building’s overall electricity consumption, turning these devices off when unneeded can prove to be a significant cost savings. Further, it reduces a facility’s environmental impact, making the facility operate more sustainably, and is well worth the effort.
If color coding is not your thing, how about automation?