Facilities Toolbox: Sustainability Tools
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What cost-effective sustainable practices improve operations and maintenance?

Photo of the interior of the Fenn Ranger Station visitor's center.

The sustainably designed Fenn
Ranger Station visitor center is
relatively inexpensive to
operate and maintain.

Forest: Nez Perce
District: Moose Creek
Region: 1

New buildings are always less costly to maintain than older buildings, because things haven't had time to fall apart. However, operations and maintenance funds are always scarce, so it's worth considering what can be done during design and construction of new buildings to ensure that operations and maintenance costs won't bankrupt your unit after a few years. It's also worth considering the effect that operating a building will have on the environment over time. When designing new buildings, look for opportunities to use more durable, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient equipment and systems and less toxic products, as explained in the sections on land use and site development, quality and durability, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and resources, and healthy indoor environments.

For existing buildings, check out Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users). This report explains how thoughtful maintenance choices and small changes in operations practices can improve the sustainability of existing Forest Service buildings and sites. Making cost-effective sustainability improvements can save money over time. Another good source of information is the Forest Service Sustainable Operations Web site.

Simply purchasing sustainable and less-toxic products makes a big difference. GSA has a Web site that makes sustainable purchasing easier. The Forest Service issued a PCMS Green Purchasing Help Guide in 2007. Information about environmentally preferable cleaning products is available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Also check out these tips for Green Cleaning, Green Cleaners, and Green Carpet Care.