In an article for the magazine, Sustainability Tool CEO Stephen Ashkin says placing small, inconspicuous colored dots on a variety of electricity-hungry equipment and sources that use water can guide custodial staff, usually the last ones to leave a building, on when to turn off different equipment, enabling significant energy and water savings.
Red dots placed on light switches, desk lamps, fans, space heaters, computer monitors and even vending machines will alert building custodians to turn them off at the end of each day. Yellow dots could mean they need to contact building maintenance or the personnel department for further instructions, while blue could signify equipment that needs to stay on during the week but can be turned off on weekends. Green dots, Ashkin says, could indicate sources that need to always be on.
The Sustainability Tool is an online dashboard that allows companies to measure and report on their sustainability efforts. Ashkin is also president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning industry.
Ashkin suggests that facilities managers can develop this color-coding system by forming a team with people drawn from management, custodians and other building users so that each group’s needs are properly understood and everyone understands the system’s importance. The team should then decide how to code each piece of equipment, conduct a detailed walk-through of the building and group different equipment into categories and colors.
Once that’s done, the team will need to explain the color-coding and what needs to be done for a red or green sticker to stakeholders that use the building. Ashkin stresses that it’s important to keep the system simple and easy to remember and use, and also allow for changes to be made as time progresses and usage needs change.
Sustainability color-codes are being implemented in other areas as well to reduce the use of resources, such as in printing documents. GreenPrint Technologies has software that codes printers in an office as red, yellow and green depending on its efficiency and how much it costs. If a user selects a printer coded red, the software suggests they switch the print order to a green-coded printer.