SFTool Blog

Welcome to the SFTool Blog. The Sustainable Facilities Tool (sftool.gov) helps you do more than learn about high-performance buildings and purchasing. SFTool helps you put this knowledge into practice, and assemble the people you need to help you get stuff done.

We’ve decided to share some of our experiences while developing SFTool. We’ll talk about interactions with the building community, challenges we’ve overcome designing the site, and other stories about putting high-performance ideas into practice.

Note: The SFTool blog may contain links to websites of public and private organizations, as well as references to specific products used in development. A link or mention anywhere on SFTool is not an endorsement of the views, products, or services provided by the mentioned resource or product.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Green Leasing: Coming Soon to SFTool!

On Monday, the General Services Administration accepted two awards at the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. They’ve got a great blog post  describing the awards they won, which included being recognized as a Green Lease Leader. Here at SFTool, we’ve had green leasing on our mind for a while, and are preparing to launch content that will help you figure out what green leasing is and why it has become so important. Our panel of industry experts spoke at BOMA's conference on Monday as well, and will speak again at Greenbuild in Los Angeles in October, so if you’re curious, come to the session! What we’ve learned is that tenants, both Federal and commercial, are increasingly requiring sustainability in their buildings, but a large part of their facilities are leased; GSA has more than 8,000 leases nationwide! Incorporating sustainable strategies into leases is necessary to successfully make the building you occupy more green and efficient. However, green leases are still not fully understood by everyone involved. Landlords, tenants, and brokers can all benefit from learning more about how green clauses impact a building’s performance and how they affect everyone’s bottom line. To this end, we are working on a Cost-Effective Upgrades Calculator to help building owners and tenants see what building upgrades or adjustments could be made and paid back during the life of a lease. The results are based on building size and climate zone, and can be bookmarked so you can always revisit or share with your building’s decisionmakers. On top of all that, you will be able to select individual building upgrades to learn about what they are, how they impact your building, and how to start implementing them. All of this will be framed by the information from our conference panels, so don’t worry if you can’t make it to LA. Look for the prototype on www.SFTool.gov in the next month or two!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sustainable Child Care Centers

Those involved in sustainability and combating climate change often cite a desire to leave a better world for their children as part of their motivation. Many may forget that there is plenty we can do for the kids right now to keep them healthy and get them started early on the path to living green. We recently released our Child Care Center module, which is loaded with everything you need to make sure a child care facility in your building is designed and operated sustainably, with the kids in mind. You can tour the different areas of a child care center, learning strategies and tips for making the spaces kid-friendly and kid-healthy.

There are many building aspects we take for granted as adults that affect children differently. For example, windows at a height acceptable for an adult might be too high for a child to see. Lighting fixtures should promote indirect lighting; the children will be looking up at the adults in the classroom and shouldn’t be looking into direct light! A lot of these seem like no brainers, but you would be surprised at how these little considerations come together to have a big impact on child care centers. Design from the child’s perspective.

Material selection is especially important for children’s facilities. It is no secret that kids spend a lot of time on the floor (and occasionally licking it!). Non-toxic flooring and furniture with VOCs well below the legal limit are important, as are any cleaning products used on the toys, furniture, and flooring. All this ensures that children are protected from anything that could harm their growth or intellectual development at this early stage of life.

You might be wondering where this all comes from. We’ve got you covered on that too. GSA has a comprehensive Child Care Center Design Guide, full of information and requirements for planning in GSA controlled spaces (but applicable to everyone). We’ve also curated a list of credits in major green building rating systems that relate to child care centers.

All of these efforts offer a golden opportunity to involve young children in sustainability conversations. If they grow up turning out the lights, using less water, and understanding their place in the environment, future generations will be well suited to protect and improve the planet when it is their turn.