When you’re managing a facility, you have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. Chris Gardner knows; he’s managed plenty of commercial and residential facilities in his time, too.

While every aspect of facility management is important, for this Earth Month, we’re focusing on one particular issue: reducing waste from your properties to be the best environmental citizen you can be. Waste is a huge issue for many property managers, and it’s your job to ensure your properties are running smoothly and efficiently in all aspects.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can work on reducing the amount of waste that comes from your commercial properties — in turn, reducing costs on waste management and providing a greener footprint for your tenants.

So, for Earth Month, here are our tips to do so:

1. First, take stock of your current waste output.

Before you can reduce your waste output, you first need to be aware of the amount of waste each of your properties is generating. Like with any other aspect of facilities management, tracking your waste numbers is essential to proper management and helping your systems operate more efficiently. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

There are many existing systems in place to help you track waste output at your properties. Try the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, or sign up on sites such as WasteWise, the Food Recovery Challenge and others to enroll in their Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Data Management System.

You will want to make sure that your waste tracking breaks down the wastes from different floors or functional areas (if applicable) within each office. By identifying where the most waste comes from (and what kind of waste is being produced), you can then start thinking about how you will reduce that waste at the source.

2. Introduce recycling programs, or ramp up your existing programs.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the waste that your commercial developments produce is by implementing recycling options. Of all the garbage that Americans throw out, half of it is potentially recyclable material. To harness this potential, facility managers need to simply provide the option for recycling in their tenants’ spaces.

Many local municipalities today have public recycling programs, but you may find that a private recycling enterprise will work best with your properties. Do your research in the options available to you, and talk with your tenants about what will work best for their space. Facilities management is a back-and-forth between you and the organizations inside your spaces, so don’t exclude them from this conversation.

As much as you work to implement an efficient recycling regimen, it will be for naught unless your organizations provide thorough education about the recycling program. Otherwise, your potentially recyclable material will continue to be thrown away or be contaminated with materials that cannot be recycled. This is where your conversation with office managers plays such a key role; you can create a system and education program together that makes the most of your new recycling options.

Once your recycling program is up and running, don’t feel like you have to stop there! Consider implementing composting programs, too, to continue cutting down on your waste output.

3. Talk with your tenants about reusable options.

Another way of reducing the waste your commercial projects produce is stopping it at the source. It may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised to learn that many offices and employees rely on disposable plates, cups and silverware for their kitchens. Not only is this terrible for the environment and will increase your waste management costs, it also increases costs for your tenants, who are repurchasing these supplies over and over again.

When you’re a facility manager, your job is to present management options that will reduce your client’s costs and make their businesses more efficient. Propose that your clients purchase reusable materials and cutlery and invest in a dishwasher (or two) for their space. While it may be more expensive up front, help them understand it is much more cost-efficient in the long-term.

Once reusable options are implemented, make sure your clients are following the new regimen. They should limit any disposable items they purchase and emphasize to their employees to take advantage of the reusable resources instead. Remember, changing established habits are hard — but it’s your job to make this change as easy as possible for your clients.

4. Recognize your local donation network, and take advantage of it.

One of the biggest waste creators in the commercial industry is office-moving. Whether you are simply a facilities manager preparing an office for a move or directly supervising the office relocation process, think about how you can reduce waste during this time. Rather than throwing away unwanted furniture and supplies, find a local donation center. Places such as Goodwill and College Hunks Hauling Junk will likely accept your clients’ extra supplies and reduce the amount that goes to the landfill.

Even if your clients aren’t moving, they may produce supplies that can be regularly donated. For example, if an organization within one of your properties regularly holds parties and functions, create a plan with them for donating leftover food to community pantries and shelters. Doing so will save your clients storage and disposal costs.

Whatever kind of clients you host in your commercial real estate spaces, remember that there will always be specific waste-reduction techniques that you implement. Talk in-depth with your clients to create a plan for your property’s waste that saves them (and you) time, energy and money.

Want more tips on how to protect the earth during every month of the year, not just Earth Month? Schedule a consultation with Chris Gardner today to learn more.

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