March 5, 2013

Behind the Scenes Tour of Alcatraz

Recently, a tour was given of scenic Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco chapter of IFMA. The purpose was to introduce the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (GGNPC) as the newest member to the chapter and familiarize the membership with some of what the Conservancy does. 
The tour was designed to focus on both the historical and current management of a facility such as Alcatraz. The Conservancy works in partnership with The National Park Service in a number of different ways to assist in the ongoing operational efforts of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. On Alcatraz, this includes visitor service functions, operational support, and project funding. Currently the Conservancy staffs visitor service for the audio tour and the bookstores, historical interpreters, a custodial team, and a small administrative team.

Operating a facility such as Alcatraz has always been, and continues to be, a significant undertaking. Alcatraz has all the same basic systems and items that have to be dealt with from a maintenance perspective, but what sets it apart is that it has no “hard” connections to the mainland. As such, everything that is needed to run Alcatraz has to be brought to the island, or otherwise collected or generated there. Therefore, the cost of running Alcatraz compared to other facilities is higher due to the cost of shipping everything that is needed to Alcatraz itself. The three main facilities concerns that were addressed in the tour were:
  1. The structures themselves
  2. Power
  3. Water
One of the biggest maintenance issues facing Alcatraz has always been the condition of the  buildings. A majority of the buildings are steel reinforced concrete, which are especially susceptible to the harsh marine conditions of Alcatraz. 
Spalling concrete is a real issue with which many of the structures on Alcatraz are faced. Currently the National Park Service is working to stabilize the Cell House. This includes repairs that will address the rust that is expanding within the walls, floors, and ceiling, and the repairing or replacement of areas where concrete has completely been lost due to spalling.

Power generation is another challenge area for Alcatraz. Until very recently Alcatraz has had to generate its own power. This has been accomplished by a few different methods over the years. Recently the National Park Service completed a project that installed solar panels in an effort to offset power that has been, thus far, generated by diesel-powered generators. The hope is that this new system will provide approximately 60% of the island’s power needs.

Lastly, the tour focused on water. One of the ironies that Alcatraz contends with is that, while Alcatraz is surrounded by water, it has no fresh water source of its own. Therefore, all fresh water has to be brought to Alcatraz. When the Gardens Conservancy got involved in the historic rehabilitation and preservation of the gardens on the island, a significant increase in water consumption was experienced. In an effort to help offset water usage for the gardens, a water catchment system was installed. The system collects water from the roofs of two separate buildings and runs it through a sand filter, then storing it in large holding tanks. This system collects, filters, and stores enough water to provide water for the gardens during the drier parts of the year with little to no extra water needed. Combined with waterless urinals and saltwater flushing toilets, this has reduced the amount of fresh water that has to be transported to Alcatraz for operational needs.

For more photos of the the tour, click here.

To learn more about Alcatraz and some of the topics covered in the IFMA San Francisco tour click on the the links below.

National Park Service Alcatraz
National Park Service Alcatraz historic preservation projects
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
The Garden Conservancy efforts on Alcatraz

Patrick McAllister
Director, Alcatraz Operations
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

August 23, 2012

Social Media for Facility Managers

As a Facility Manager, are you using social media in your role personally or for your profession? If not, why not take advantage of the free online medium? Sure it's a matter of time and perhaps a learning curve, but social networking can benefit your position, department or you professionally in the industry. Here's a quick recap on last week's roundtable held at Huntsman Architectural Group in San Francisco.

Facilities management means to effectively manage your facilities, promote employee productivity, comfort and safety while meeting budget goals, preserve corporate assets while adhering to local, state and federal regulations. Social networking is an excellent information forum to consume and communicate information to departmental and company employees. When used as a research tool, promote your department's service, improve internal communications or even find your next career.

Recommended social media platforms for Facility Managers and suggested uses are: 

Blogs - Showcase your expertise in your field. Blog about useful and educational content that other FMs, service providers and partners can relate to. Do's, Don'ts, How To's, Top 10 ____, Trends, Special Events, Announcements or provide a Checklist. For an example of IFMA San Francisco's blog, click here.

Linkedin - Optimize your profile with keywords. Use as a research tool. Join relevant groups, seek out other FMs and connect, share best practices, ideas, information etc. To join IFMA San Francisco's group, click here.

Video - Ranks highly for SEO and engages users/readers more than text. Use video to map out an emergency evacuation route. Take a photo of your company's ER kit location, etc.

Twitter - Another powerful research tool. Research industry events using a hashtag (#) and follow event updates. For example, USGBC's Greenbuild Conference coming to San Francisco in November's hashtag is #Greenbuild. Click here to follow IFMA National or Infuse Marketing.

Honest Buildings - Newcomer to the social media sphere. A hybrid of Yelp and Linkedin. Sound research tool to seek out a building's information on sustainability, walk-ability, building owner, etc. Once an account is established, users that occupy space in a building can review their space. Engage with building owners and operators to ensure that they maintain best practices in cleaning and maintaining their buildings.

Final takeaways for social media for Facility Managers is to listen, monitor online conversations and respond appropriately, provide useful information to consume and be transparent. Should you follow this rule, you will be thought of as an authority in your field!

PR Chair for IFMA SF, Carmina of Infuse Marketing (in red)
presents social media benefits to chapter members.

How have you used social media in your role as a Facility Manager? Let's hear your comments below.

Carmina Bacani
PR/Communications Chair
Owner, Infuse Marketing

June 13, 2012

Sustainable Landscaping ROI

Bay-Friendly | Eco-Friendly Landscaping Alternatives Lead to Cost Savings

You can save a considerable amount of building management costs by installing sustainable landscaping. By planting employee gardens, replacing turf with microclimate sustainable ground cover, using Bay-Friendly plant palettes, re-using green waste as compost and using advanced weather-based ET controllers when watering, you can save anywhere from 2.5 – 9% annually. On budgets of $100 million or more, that can represent savings in excess of $9 million a year! When you can show these kinds of cost reductions to your executive team that makes you as a facility or property manager worth your weight in gold.

In this video, ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance partnered with Electronic Arts in Redwood Shores to implement the following GREEN landscaping solutions:
  • Irrigation Retrofits
  • Sustainable Plant Replacement
  • Herb/Vegetable Garden Conversion and Creation
  • EA realized the following benefits and cost savings:
  • Total annual savings of 1,102,552 gallons of water
  • Reduction of 9,450 pounds of green waste per year
  • Production of 416 pounds of edible vegetables and herbs per year

If you go GREEN, you can expect your organic waste generated from landscaping to drop an average of 5% per year; gas costs based on sustainable tree pruning techniques to drop 2.5% per year on average and water consumption per square foot to go down an average of 9% a year. Depending on how aggressively you pursue green landscaping recommendations, you could enjoy even more resource savings.

Three Steps You Can Take Toward Sustainable Landscaping:

  1. Plant landscapes suitable to the micro climate or native to the area for greater sustainability
  2. Replace turf and energy-intensive plant materials with San Francisco Bay-Friendly and sustainable plant palettes
  3. Plant chef and employee organic gardens on site
Have you integrated a sustainable landscaping solution in your facility or property? Share with us any other methods we may have not covered.

Nada Duda, Sr. Vice-President
ValleyCrest Landscaping Management

May 1, 2012

Green, Sustainable, LEED Certified, Energy Efficient, Energy Star, Carbon Neutral = Green Paralysis

Green, Sustainable, LEED Certified, Energy Efficient, Energy Star, Carbon Neutral = Green Paralysis

Green, sustainable, LEED certified, energy efficient, Energy Star rated, carbon neutral, chemical free, and a million other terms have ebbed and flowed through the corporate real estate sector and in many cases have caused “GREEN” paralysis. This is when any “GREEN” idea goes in one ear and out the other, no matter how good it is.

I suggest you take GREEN out of the discussion and focus on how you can run a facility as efficiently as possible. Focus on energy, waste, and water reduction,increasing your efficiency per square foot, having a lower operating expense than your neighbor buildings, and getting your waste bills as low as possible. Then integrate energy star ratings or LEED which have both shown to produce increased rents of up to $11 and increased occupancy of 4% based on research by Co-Star.  

Resource efficiency can absolutely be a win-win without hitting obstacles from the outset because of a personal gut reactions to certain terminology like GREEN. Results are worth a thousand terms so produce results and everything else will fall into place. 

Want to learn more about how Green is the new black?  Some available resources:

Click here for upcoming classes and events listed from BOMA Silicon Valley on energy and sustainable issues 

What are you doing in your company to contribute maximize/increase efficiency and reduce operating expenses?

Ken Kurtzig, Founder & CEO

March 15, 2012

Be Smart - Save Money - Be Water Wise

Coming out of a dry winter, water conservation becomes more important than ever.  While landscape water costs are always an issue, lack of precipitation often leads to higher water rates.  In addition, water usage often increases due to the necessity of starting irrigation early.

Short and long term planning becomes essential for managing your water costs.  Develop a monthly ETWU - Estimated Water Use budget to establish actual water requirements and projected costs.  Some things to consider in creating this ETWU budget: size and type of landscape, local weather, soil type, and irrigation set up.  Check with your city/county water district for any possible rebate programs or over limit penalties.

Tammy Key, Business Development Manager
Gachina Landscaping

IFMA SF Programs/Education Chair
Irrigation Association

February 12, 2012

Managing Plug Load - The Next Challenge for Energy Efficient Buildings

"Plug load? Seriously? With all the things that I need to do in my facilities you want me to worry about managing plug load power use? It can’t be that big a deal."

Studies from many countries consistently show that “miscellaneous” load is a quarter to a third of power consumption in office buildings, and it keeps growing as facilities become “smarter”. When HVAC and lighting get more efficient, plug load can be 50% or more of energy use. Recent research from UC-San Diego shows that IT equipment accounts for more than 70% of electrical base load in “mixed-use” campus buildings that have server rooms. Managing plug load power use is a big deal, and gets bigger as we put more electronic equipment into every type of building.

Graphic source:

"So, what should I do?"
1Managing plug load is challenging, but essential … baseline measurement and analysis of the plug load.  You have to know what equipment is in a building, who is responsible for it, and what its power consumption characteristics are.

2. Kill the Zombies. In every building there is unused and unnecessary equipment … servers, printers, fax machines, copiers, UPS’s … that are using electricity but not doing anything. Clean house and get rid of unused equipment.

Next, you need a power management plan to turn off or turn down electronic equipment when idle. Desktop PC power management software can produce big returns. Energy Star power down settings need to be turned on and kept on for all equipment. Smart power strips or sensors can turn off peripheral devices and AC/DC converters. Even servers can be managed for variable power use.  If your utility offers it, take advantage of PG&E’s subsidy programs that will fund plug load power management technologies. 

Finally, get smart about what you buy. Work with IT and Purchasing departments to design, specify and buy energy efficient equipment and systems. The EPA now has Energy Star labels for not only office equipment and appliances, PC’s, and monitors, but for UPS’s, servers, and data storage systems as well.  

Energy Star is good as minimum standard, but with a little more effort your facilities can significantly reduce plug load power use, and your energy bills. A well thought-out plan for addressing “miscellaneous” energy use belongs on your to-do list for 2012.

Richard Hodges,
IFMA-SF Sustainability Chair

January 31, 2012

IFMA San Francisco Holiday Party at a Green Venue

2011 Holiday Party at the Intercontinental San Francisco

I want to thank Tammy Key, Programs and Education Chair of the San Francisco Chapter and the rest of the Board for choosing the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel for 2011’s holiday lunch. We appreciate your business and I enjoyed the opportunity to share our LEED EBOM story with you. 

In 2007, I wrote “Sustainability and The Triple Bottom Line,” a story for the Silicon Valley Chapter of IFMA. This was used as part of their World Workplace effort. It was a fun story to write and helped me focus on several aspects of the adventure of becoming LEED certified.

The reason I mention it in relation to my blog today is that through writing it, I realized how much of a community effort the process was and how all I really needed was willingness and commitment.

I am the beneficiary of the wisdom and enthusiasm I get from IFMA members like you reading this today and the wonderful community of professionals we all work with everyday. Of course I needed money and having support from PG&E, Lodging Savers, InterContinental Hotels and our local owners, Continental Development Corporation were fundamental. What I did was to join USGBC and attend meetings, make friends, go to IFMA meetings, make friends, and the apply those learning’s and relationships to the process that I was guided through by Jubilee Daniels LEED AP.

In the early going we worked with students from San Francisco State to winnow out the credits we could achieve from the ones that were not practical at that time. We established a “Green Team” in the hotel to assess, implement and educate on the various credits we pursued. I became infused with the pragmatism and practicality I found in the USGBC requirements. I was amazed at what I had been told was too expensive and dopey was really a return to many of the harmonies of the universe that had prevailed for so long before we were all enlightened by the industrial age and even the IT revolution. Not only did I get the religion of how sensible most measures were but I found that I could save money and improve profits along the way. The myth of the “Triple bottom line “was no myth at all and even I could realize the dream!

Harry Hobbs facilitating
a tour of the LEED Gold hotel
It is my sincerest hope that you will realize your “Green Dreams” too! 

Harry Hobbs, CFM
Director of Engineering
Intercontinental Hotels of San Francisco

SF IFMA Member