Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 8th 2014 Contents BG16 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 2014 • WEEK TWO
n the realm of facilities maintenance
and management, sustainability refers
to the process of reducing the impact
of the built environment on the envi-
ronment. This impact includes our
dependence on fossil fuels mainly
through the use of electricity, the usage of
water and the overall use of consumable prod-
ucts daily to operate our businesses. Given the
dynamics of our society and culture, how do
we encourage companies to implement sus-
tainable or “green” initiatives?
Our buildings and their surroundings con-
sume large amounts of electricity for lighting,
air conditioning, pumps, as well as all of the
electric and electronic equipment. In the con-
text of T&T, we tend to take this for granted
since our electricity costs are subsidised and
are very low compared to most countries.
While the most talked-about methods for
reducing dependence on fossil fuels include
the use of solar power or wind turbines, these
solutions are still very expensive and not fea-
sible in our scenario. How then can we encour-
age companies to focus on reducing electricity
usage without incurring huge costs?
We have already witnessed the move away
from incandescent bulbs to compact florescent
lights in the home, significantly cutting power
consumption. In commercial spaces, the most
popular lights are linear florescent bulbs, which
are already fairly efficient, but there are oppor-
tunities for improvement. Many buildings still
use old technology, utilising magnetic ballasts
and inefficient tubes.
Retrofitting your lighting can often reduce
consumption and will invariably increase the
quality of light and reduce ongoing mainte-
nance costs; new electronic ballasts do not
need to be changed regularly. LED tunes have
also been introduced, reducing cost further.
However, the cost may still be too high for
most people’s pockets.
Let’s look at all of the commercial buildings
whose lights remain on all night. Is it that we
do not like to turn off the lights? Occupational
sensors, essentially motion sensors, can be
utilised to eliminate this practice. When the
building empties at night, the sensor will
switch the lights off. If it is necessary to leave
a portion of the lights on for safety purposes,
these can be wired so they stay on. Other
inefficient light sources, such as sodium-
vapour lights used in warehouses and car-
parks, have also been changed to florescent
or LEDs in many cases, reducing power
Day-lighting techniques utilise ambient light
to reduce the need for electric lights. In some
cases, at least for part of the day. Skylights
and windows that light common areas are
provide economic solutions.
Air-conditioning systems are also high users
of electricity. Dirty filters, ducts, and vents,
worn bearings and belts increase the power
demand considerably. Consumption can be
managed by properly servicing units regularly
and insisting on a proper preventative main-
tenance plan be put in place and monitored.
There is the added benefit of improved air
quality. Good temperature control systems
also help to manage electricity usage.
The most common complaint in facilities
management by tenants is temperature control.
Many companies reduce the temperature too
much, insisting that employees dress appro-
priately in order to manage.
Reducing the overall heat-load of the build-
ing by planting trees near to buildings is a
viable and inexpensive addition.
The shade keeps the surrounding areas cool,
improves the air quality and encourages bird
life as a bonus. There is a line of trees on the
pavement on Park Street in Port-of-Spain
and, in the late afternoon, they are alive with
hundreds of birds.
When we consider the use of water, we are
generally very complacent, however, water is
not an endless resource, even in T&T. Signif-
icant additions to the nation’s water capacity
will only be possible through the use of expen-
Water-reducing devices are fairly inexpensive
and include aerating faucets and water-efficient
toilets. Run-off water can be captured and
stored in tanks and cisterns for use for land-
scape watering and non-potable uses.
Recycling is not a large part of our lives
either. Much of the recycling work done in
T&T comprises only part of the recycling cycle,
namely collecting and compacting waste and
then exporting it to large recycling plants (the
main exception is glass, which is recycled fully
here). Companies and households can still
play their part. There are companies who will
collect and even shred your used paper and
will collect plastic and glass waste.
Avoidance of waste is a little more difficult
because it requires encouraging employees to
change their mindset and behaviour, but it is
being done. Using the reusable five-gallon
bottles of water instead of smaller disposable
bottles is a start.
Changing to water filters installed in the
faucets goes a step further to reduce con-
sumption. Instead of using paper, electronic
records reduce consumption and the need for
extra storage space.
These initiatives can all be implemented
fairly easily and will generally save companies
money. It is important to build a corporate
culture that embraces environmentally sus-
The best place to start is with the low hang-
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Practical approaches to cost saving
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