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This issue centers on the "Green Mindset" and on developing a culture of sustainability within your organization.

Share your story with us and let us know how you and your team are Going Green.
Green for Green's Sake
"Going Green" means different things to different people.
To some, it's a lifestyle change; biking to work, driving a hybrid vehicle, and recycling. To others, it can be an accounting exercise where investments or donations to green initiatives are used to offset one's carbon footprint.
To those in real estate, construction and facilities management, green often means trying to achieve a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification for one's building. As you will recall from some of my past newsletters, the LEED program is administered by the US Green Building Council and has several levels of certification attained via a point system. The more points achieved by a project in the areas of sustainable sites, materials, energy/atmosphere and other categories, the higher the LEED rating.
The LEED process is applicable to both new construction projects and significant alterations of existing facilities. But what about everyone else? How can a facility or organization that is not undertaking significant renovations or building a new building begin to apply green principles to everyday operations in a way that will have a lasting impact? The answer is, one step at a time...Do what is readily achievable.
This is similar to the approach former Mayor Bloomberg enacted in New York City. When the New York City Building Code changed in July of 2008, the Mayor did not legislate mandatory LEED compliance. Instead, he chose to implement green building requirements that could be put in place relatively easily and which would have an immediate impact. He mandated that owners and developers plant street trees in connection with most building projects.
Some of the Mayor's other green initiatives require developers to set aside bicycle rack space in new apartment buildings and require the construction of landscaped bio-filters at the perimeter of parking lots to treat storm water and reduce overall flow volume to treatment plants.
So how do you apply this approach to your facility? Forget about LEED points and go green for green's sake.
You are always cleaning, painting and caulking, so make sure you are using solvents, paints and caulks that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOC's) which will improve indoor air quality.
Ask your purchasing department to buy recycled paper and other materials with pre-industrial and post consumer recycled content. Buy from vendors within a 500 mile radius of your facility to reduce the environmental transportation burden (fuel and emissions). If the vendor's source materials (metals, minerals, etc.) are also extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of your facility, that's even better.
When you do remodel, stay away from petroleum based products like plastics while favoring rapidly renewable and highly recyclable materials like ceramic tile & linoleum. When buying wood trim and furnishings, look for product lines that use Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber from rapid growth forests.
"Green" is a mindset and by taking a lot of small steps, you are building a culture within your organization that is in itself sustainable. Those future LEED certified building projects will be a natural outgrowth of that culture.
Do you have questions or feedback about the information provided or regarding your property or building that we can answer?  Contact us and we will be happy to provide you with any additional information you may need.  We want to continue to offer content that interests you, our readers. Please drop us a line and let us know what topics you might want to learn more about. As always, we love hearing from you.
John W. Baumgarten, RA, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Principal & President