Processes: Compliance is Everyone’s Responsibility

July 1, 2003
Maximizing Building Performance Through Environmental Strategies - PROCESSES
Arnold, MD-based BOMI Institute (, a leader in professional development and continuing education among professionals involved in commercial buildings, is bullish on environmental health and safety. So much, in fact, that the organization has developed a detailed course on the subject as part of its programs for obtaining the Real Property Administrator® (RPA®), Facilities Management Administrator® (FMA), and/or Systems Maintenance Administrator® (SMA®) professional designations.Process begins in the learning environment, and is further developed, tweaked, and refined through real-world experiences and continuous input. It seems fitting, therefore, to excerpt the following from the Environmental Health and Safety Issues coursework BOMI Institute provides to its students. Begin here, and then move forward …Today, environmental quality and health and safety are important to the quality of life and in creating an acceptable living and working environment. Building owners, managers, and employees must be aware of the conditions and circumstances that can adversely affect the environment of any building and its tenants and visitors. Problems arising from these conditions will have a negative effect on tenant satisfaction and occupancy, lead to extra costs, and have potentially serious legal ramifications – all of which could contribute to substantial economic costs and a lower bottom line.Familiarity with environmental and occupational health and safety law is critical for owners and managers. Statutes and ordinances require attention by responsible persons, such as owners or managers. Failure to comply with the law can result in fines and enforcement actions. Compliance with these laws can also help to maintain building values, because clean, well-repaired facilities are more attractive and salable.While rules dealing with the environment, health, and safety have long antecedents, increased awareness over the past 30 years of the effect of human activities on the local, national, and worldwide environment resulted in an enormous increase in laws, rules, and regulations that affect every facet of our lives. These are ignored at one’s peril.The quality of life is, in part, measured by a pleasant, healthful, and safe working environment. Almost everyone spends more time at work, shopping, and play in buildings managed by third parties than at home. To be successful, those managing these buildings must comply with the many laws and regulations that seek to protect the land and the buildings in which we live, work, and play.Water $en$eHow much water does a typical hospital use?
Ask Thomas C. Gormley, vice president of design, construction, equipment, and engineering at HCA, the Nashville-based healthcare leader with a 60 million-square-foot portfolio of hospitals and surgery centers, and you’ll discover that the answer is, “a lot.” For example, Gormley points to one of HCA’s hospitals in Tampa, FL, with annual water usage of approximately 37.5 million gallons and sewer costs exceeding $300,000 per year. It is in instances such as these where HCA’s water conservation program makes sense. “Our goal is to reduce our cost and water usage by 20 to 30 percent without impacting the quality of care at our facilities,” says Gormley.However, given the challenges that all hospitals are facing with capital needs, facilities professionals have to find creative ways to finance such ventures. “One size doesn’t really fit all, as far as the approach you need from a financing standpoint,” explains Gormley. “In a large capital project, we’re looking for a net present value of maybe 1.1 to 1.2. With something like this – water that really isn’t our core business – hospital management wants a fairly quick payback and turnaround. Do we put in a new MRI that’s going allow us to treat more patients and generate earnings and admissions, or do we put in water conservation? There’s always that press for capital.”At HCA, several steps were taken to reduce water and sewer costs. Among them were:Installing water control systems on gravity and vacuum sterilizers to reduce water used to create vacuum and temper steam condensate.Recovering and reusing air-handling condensate and other water used for cooling equipment in cooling towers to supplement make-up water requirements.Installing water control systems on X-ray film processors.Replacing old water-cooled ice machines with new air-cooled efficient units.Installing water flow control devices on kitchen equipment, such as dishwashers and disposals.Providing spigot flow restrictors on all sinks in patient rooms and public and staff restrooms.Providing new 1.6-gallon-per-flush toilets with new flushometer valve diaphragms.Recycling or reusing reverse osmosis reject water.Gormley points to several factors that impact the potential return for investing in a water conservation program. These include:Water sewer rates – generally these need to be above $5 per 1,000 gallons.Significant water usage – generally it needs to be greater than 15 million gallons of water per year.The age and type of HVAC and other systems – generally they need to be greater than five years old; systems with a cooling tower are more appropriate, notes Gormley.The demographics of the community – generally high-growth areas have increasing demand and rates.The local climate – coastal or desert environments generally provide opportunities due to limited water supply and/or sewer water disposal issues.

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