Workplace transformation

It's the people dummy! How your employees can provide low-cost options for high-performance buildings.


With all the focus on high-tech solutions and new sustainable architecture, we would like to take the time to recognize the day-in and day-out occupants of our built environment. Their behavior is a key ingredient to helping organizations reach sustainability goals. In typical commercial buildings, occupants are responsible for 50 to 75 percent of energy consumed through their use of lighting, equipment, and HVAC. How can you harness the power of the crowd in your buildings? Try some of these strategies:


  • Print double-sided or print to PDF. 
  • Use less packaging (buy in bulk).
  • Use electronic documents.
  • Give employees resources to contact providers of direct mail to reduce junk.
  • Use smaller margins, font size, and leading in templates to lessen the number of pages per document printed.
  • Do not use a separate cover sheet when faxing.
  • Use interoffice envelopes instead of new envelopes where possible.
  • Encourage paperless and clean-desk policies to help eliminate clutter, reduce use of raw materials, and help keep the office dust free.
  • Instead of providing hard copies of presentations and briefings, have employees bring laptops to meetings to view copy of presentations.
  • Keep all paper dry as wet paper cannot be recycled.


  •  Eliminate fax machines and move to e-fax technology.
  • Turn off computer and monitor at the end of the day.
  • Enable standby mode on your computer during breaks.
  • Set monitor displays to shut down when not in use.
  • Unplug unused devices.



  • Reuse office supplies such as binder clips, paper clips, file folders, binders, and tape flags.
  • Collect reusable bags from conferences and other events and provide for use by office as needed.
  • Eliminate physical rewards such as certificates and plaques; instead provide gift cards or more sustainable gifts that do not add to office clutter.
  • Provide separate recycling for electronics, batteries, and light bulbs.
  • When office materials (including furniture and equipment) must be replaced, search for take-back and salvage programs.


  •  Collect plastic bags and provide for reuse by staff or for take home (they make great trash bags for bathrooms, pet waste bags, dirty gym clothes bags, etc.).
  • Before events and meetings, send an e-mail reminding attendees to bring mugs or reusable cups if beverages will be served.
  • Avoid purchasing boxed meals.
  • Use less bottled water.
  • Eliminate Styrofoam products.
  • Drain all liquids from plastic bottles.
  • Wash and rinse any food remains and pour away excess liquid before placing containers in the recycling bin.


  • Turn off lights.
  • Lower blinds when the sun is at its peak.

Education and Enrollment

  • Educate employees on office consumption (such as energy and water usage, trash generation, etc.).
  • Encourage the formation of green teams.
  • Post employee manuals and similar materials online rather than distributing paper copies.
  • Host in-office education sessions on how to engage in sustainable behaviors in the office.
  • Create joint-purchasing programs with other tenants in the building to buy supplies in bulk.
  • Encourage employee exchanges by setting up informal lending libraries for items such as books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs. Or, set up days for people to bring in items to swap; anything not taken at the end of the day could be given to charity.
  • Offer incentives for employee engagement in sustainable behaviors.
  • Support a casual dress code to allow comfort and greater temperature variation (wear boots in the winter and short-sleeves in the summer).
  • Encourage the use of stairs over elevators.
  • Provide clear signage on what should be recycled/composted/ thrown away.
  • Adopt health and wellness initiatives.


  • Provide bike share or car share options.
  • Provide bike racks and showers.
  • Provide rideshare information or carpool boards.
  • Subsidize transit.
  • Provide carpool/vanpool/energy-efficient car parking.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements or compressed work weeks to reduce peak-time commuting.

Travel Reduction

  •  Provide teleconferencing capabilities.
  • Use web meetings through mediums such as Live Meeting, Office Communicator, SharePoint, and TelePresence.
  • Travel only if essential for business purposes.
  • Opt for rail over air.
  • Select environmentally preferred hotels.
  • Rent a fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Use online conferences; limit conference attendance and have employees report back to the rest of the organization.

Single Occupancy Vehicle or Fleet Vehicle Protocols

  • Consider a partial- or zero-emissions vehicle.
  • Use a small car for commuting.
  • Tune up.
  • Fill air in tires.
  • Combine trips when possible.

Green Protocols to Consider as Part of Building Operations

Whether a facility is owned or leased, the size of a facility, the length of lease, and other factors determine the level of control a company has over the operation of a building it occupies. That said, consider the following as a checklist for affecting operations at the building or floor level:


  • Turn off the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system when employees are not working in space, i.e., from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day and on weekends.
  • Use programmable thermostats.
  • Install meters or submeters to track energy and water use.
  • Clean HVAC filters regularly.
  • Use high-efficiency hand dryers instead of paper towels.
  • In buildings with operable windows, ensure all windows (and storm windows, if applicable) are closed tightly.
  • Consider setting hot water heaters to lower temperatures (120 degrees Fahrenheit should be sufficient).
  • Purchase energy using renewables when possible.


  • Use potable water only when needed for health or safety reasons.
  • Use low-flow tabs or tab aerators.
  • Install dual-flush and low-flow toilets.
  • Install waterless or low-flow urinals. Ensure cleaning staff is educated in proper maintenance of waterless urinals.


  •  Provide recycling collection area.


  • Encourage cleaning companies to clean spaces during the day in order to reduce energy use during off-hours.
  • Use Green Seal certified cleaning products.
  • Add plants to the office to help clean the air (but be sure to keep them clean and healthy so they do not contribute mold spores or get dusty).
  • Implement integrated pest management.


  • Regularly audit facilities for leaks and other areas where energy and water might be wasted (such as dimmable light switches that get stuck just before the off position).
  • Engage in commissioning as part of project and beyond.
  • Consider third-party reporting.


These points are adapted from BOMI International's course High-Performance Sustainable Building Principles, part of the new High-Performance Program. Visit for more details.

The Nature of Work and the Workplace


The Final Report from the CRE&FM Futures Forum, put out last year by Zurich Insurance

Group, identified several trends likely to affect the nature of work and the workplace of the future:

  • The workplace will continue a transition to being a social hub that is the physical manifestation of desired cultural and brand values, as well as a place of production.
  • "The office" will remain the primary place to develop and maintain collaborative relationships, but such offices will increasingly be used for meetings rather than as a collection of workspaces for individuals.
  • Knowledge-based businesses will be the ones that provide the autonomy and the enabling tools for workers to decide when, how and where their work is accomplished collectively and individually, on and off company premises.
  • Rather than the legacy approach to space based on role or function, businesses will increasingly consolidate workplace concepts around activities-based and or competencies-based work models.



Source: fmlink

Micro Adaptive Reuse and the peer-to-peer revolution

couchsurfingI am on a flight to San Francisco to attend Greenbuild. I am not staying at a hotel, opting instead to take the plunge into "couch surfing", a slightly less scary option than hostels. Okay, so I am not exactly couch surfing, but I am staying in someone else's home and sleeping in someone else's bed... still pretty creepy by many standards. I used a matching service called Airbnb. Similar to the old music peer-to-peer services like Kazaa or Napster, Airbnb connects individuals with a marketplace for non-traditional lodging alternatives. Unlike many file-sharing sites, this legitimate service will not have the feds knocking on your door! I am exploring this phenomena as a real estate solution that is based on the concept of adaptable reuse... on a much smaller scale. I arrived in Oakland right on time and as a sustainable traveler, I took the Air BART to the BART to Powell Street Station. There I connected with my landlord, walked over to Mint Plaza and settled down with a cup of joe to wait. I did not have to wait long, as she arrived very quickly with the apartment keys. We walked upstairs and she showed me the basics, then left me with the key and a set of instructions. Easy peezy! I walked down a few blocks to Whole Foods and picked up groceries for the week. I feel right at home.

I have been here for two days now, and things are going great. I would suggest that if you go down this path for lodging, you be comfortable sleeping in someone else's bed and using another persons utensils  All in all, I am happy with this choice and look forward to the rest of the trip and future "couch surfing" opportunities. If you want to branch out on your own travels, here are a few sources to get you started.

  • Airbnb: an obvious choice, given the mention in this article. Airbnb is easily accessible on the web and through an app on your mobile device through the iOS or Android app stores.
  • VRBO: Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) is a site that I have used in the past. From impromptu trips to Europe to local accommodations for visiting family members, VRBO has been a solid experience.
  • Homeaway: Like VRBO (and co-owned), Homeaway offers vacation homes that provide travelers with hotel alternatives. The company also makes it easy for vacation rental owners and property managers to advertise their properties and manage bookings online.
  • Flipkey: Similar to Homeaway and VRBO, Flipkey specializes in vacation homes. It is owned by Tripadvisor and provides user reviews and commercially managed properties, as well.
  • Roomorama: Better for Europe and Asia stays, this is a good site for travelers headed abroad. 70 percent of the available properties are second homes that are handled by a management company. It also has features similar to Hipmunk, and allows owners to make offers based on ads from searchers. It also uses established security measures to raise the quality of experiences for both owners and renters.