Operations & Maintenance
- Instituting green O&M policies
- Actively managing solid waste
What is it?
Waste management systems are designed to encourage the minimization of solid waste that is sent to landfills and to maximize the amount of refuse that is recycled. Janitorial practices and routine maintenance are monitored to ensure they do not introduce toxic chemicals into the high-quality indoor environment provided by the green building. The objective of any village’s operations staff is “to keep all of the village’s assets (buildings, equipment and services) available for safe usage on a full-time basis.” This standard can live in harmony with the principles of green building management.
Why it is important
Once a public building is constructed, contractors for day-to-day maintenance are typically out-sourced. These contracts focus on the end product (a clean facility, a new paint job) and generally do not impose rules on how that function should be conducted. Although green products are available for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) functions, they are not used by the majority of contractors. Likewise, the objective of waste management programs is to remove all waste, the ultimate disposition of which is viewed as the responsibility of the hauler, not the waste generator.
Instituting green O&M policies. A building can hardly be considered “green” if its cleanliness is maintained through the use of toxic chemicals. Many institutions have implemented policies for green cleaning and integrated pest management. Green O&M generally covers the following:
Janitorial services: A green cleaning policy requires the use of specific janitorial cleaning agents for all areas of a facility including floors, glass surfaces, washrooms, and restaurants. Standard toxic products (i.e., bleach) would not be permitted.
Light maintenance (paints, caulks, sealants, adhesives): All buildings need periodic maintenance, but using products high in off-gassing chemicals (volatile organic compounds, or VOC's) defeats the purpose of a healthy facility. Green policies generally require using low-VOC products and may also mandate the consideration of materials that are reclaimed, regionally produced, and/or that have recycled content.
Integrated pest management (IPM): The first goal of IPM is to prevent pests from germinating, establishing a culture of cleanliness and order that will not support the development of pests (insects and varmints). Once pests have been identified for control, IPM will employ multiple methods of eradication before resorting to mass spraying of indefinite pesticides. Such control methods may include trapping or applying specific, natural chemicals to disrupt reproduction. An IPM policy generally applies equally to the indoor maintenance and outdoor grounds-keeping.
Actively managing solid waste. All waste generators must be considered to determine which types of sorting bins need to be located and where. With a thoughtfully planned system, communities can divert a majority of their solid waste to recycling and may be able to recoup a percentage of its disposal costs or negotiate lower disposal fees.