Best Practices- Maintenance
National Recycling Day - State of Recycling and Multifamily Real Estate
by Christin D. on 11/12/2019 11:32:00 AM
National Recycling Day is November 15th!
This year, National Recycling Day (America Recycles Day) falls on Thursday, November 15th, and encourages communities and their members to spread the word about recycling. America Recycles Day is a “Keep America Beautiful” campaign program focused on educating, motivating, and encouraging recycling, with the goal of engaging and promoting participation in practices to reduce the amount of non-recycled waste. To that extent, many multifamily communities have been hosting events and educating residents about recycling, and best practices to help reduce the environmental impact caused by waste produced at their community. In addition, multifamily I recycling initiatives have evolved substantially since the early days. Below we will take an inside look at multi-family waste management practices, recycling initiatives, and additional benefits created through best practices.
2001: EPA multifamily specific study
In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) embarked on a study focused primarily on the discovery of the extent to which the multifamily industry was employing recycling programs across the nation. Prior to the EPA study, multifamily did not have a clear definition of recycling practices due to falling under a commercial real estate classification. The EPA study sampled 40 communities across the nation and compared single family to multifamily community recycling practices, and their success and shortfalls. The EPA then defined what a successful recycling program should look like in the multifamily business, and how this was accomplished in what was called the “Multifamily and High-Rise Recycling Assessment”. The results of the 2001 survey brought about significant adjustments in multifamily recycling requirements to various jurisdictions throughout the country.
2016: State of curbside report study
In 2016, the State of Recycling report was published by The Recycling Partnership, which analyzed single family and multifamily best practices and effectiveness for recycling. The findings yielded some of the original challenges the EPA uncovered in the 2001 study, primarily due to a large portion of local governments not defining multifamily outside of the commercial sector. In the 2016 study, 465 communities comprising about 36 million residential units (Single family homes and multifamily units) were considered, and the study found that only 25 million units were eligible for curbside collection including recycling as an option. This means that 11 million units of multifamily were still not included as a part of curbside recycling program. Since that point in time, many local jurisdictions have started to require mandatory recycling in multifamily.
Benefits of recycling
Why does our country donate so much time into supporting recycling as an initiative on so many different levels? A plethora of benefits are realized when communities choose to recycle rather than toss waste into landfills. The practice of recycling conserves natural resources such as water, saves energy, prevents pollution, and increases economic security, including the development and creation of jobs available in the manufacturing and recycling industries in the United States. The Recycling Economic Study done in 2016 revealed that 1.57 jobs and $76,000 in wages were generated per 1,000 tons of materials recycled. Recycling also saves the number of trees that need to be cut down to make new paper products when paper is recycled by households. A 2015 survey discovered that 25% of municipal solid waste is due to paper products alone, while plastics accounted for 35 million tons and glass 11.5 million tons of waste. Reducing the amount of waste from these 3 materials alone would have a substantial impact on the environment if more households practiced recycling as a regular activity, especially those in the multifamily sector.
Challenges in Multifamily recycling
As previously stated, multifamily recycling programs have been ambiguous and difficult to measure due to data captured. This is due to multifamily properties being defined as commercial property in many local municipalities, although that is not the only challenged faced. Multifamily communities have little control over what type of waste is thrown into community trash compactors, and the addition of a recycling receptacles beside waste containers and compactors has created confusion for residents. Recycled materials often wind up contaminated by those who don’t know how to recycle properly, or by utilizing inappropriate containers with or without realizing it. Another challenge faced is the practice of encouraging multifamily households to designate a separate container to just recycled materials, often in smaller living spaces. The monitoring of any of these challenges is difficult, and multifamily communities often end up spending more on recycling without seeing high success.
Challenges in U.S. recycling
Until recently, the United States had been sending most recyclable materials to China to be manufactured into goods such as plastics, clothing, and other products. In late 2018, China began restricting recycling imports of certain types, including paper and most plastics, two of the largest recyclable materials in the United States. Unfortunately, waste management companies are now being forced to raise rates, and municipal governments are faced with either paying the higher rates or throwing the recycling away as waste instead. This has left many communities without a choice. As a result, carbon emissions and methane released by recycling decomposing in landfills, and plastic being burned is having a large negative environmental impact on the ozone layer, propelling the environment into an even further undesirable direction.
What is the solution?
It seems like recycling is a thing of the past after researching and realizing the restrictions and costs now imposed on municipalities and consumers. So how can we do our part and continue to recycle? The first step is to be more conscious of the waste we are producing in the first place. Shopping bags, straws, and water bottles are 3 easy items to stop supporting, and by adopting re-usable options instead. Be more conscious of what is going into the recycling bin! Aluminum cans, foil, steel and tin cans, corrugated cardboard, office paper, and #1 and #2 plastics such as water, juice, and salad dressing containers are still encouraged if they must be used. The second part is to be more conscious of how the goods are when thrown into the bin. Cleaning recyclables of all debris and waste such as food residue is key in the expense of processing recyclables, making it a requirement for consideration.
Though there are many who are pessimistic about recycling and take and all or nothing approach, educating yourself and others on the facts is key to continuing any progress in our recycling initiatives, whether it be in a business or multifamily community environment.
Published by: Christin Daniels for Buyers Access® residential multifamily purchasing experts. To connect with Buyers Access and obtain a complimentary purchasing analysis, visit us at www.buyersaccess.com or email us at BASales@buyersaccess.com.
EPA (November 2001). Multifamily Recycling: A National Study. National Service Center for Environmental Publications (EPA530-r-01-018). Retrieved from https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/10000OV5.PDF?Dockey=10000OV5.PDFGreenblatt, Alan (Dec. 2018) Under China’s New Rules, U.S. Recycling Suffers. Governing: The States and Localities. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html
EPA.gov. How Do I Recycle? Common Recyclables. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html.
Cold, Flu, and You: Promote Wellness this Season
by Christin D. on 11/5/2019 4:00:00 PM
Flu Season and You
Flu Season is upon us and protecting yourself against contracting a cold or the flu is a high priority this time of year. From consistent hand-washing, to guzzling vitamin C, most of us do whatever we can to prevent ourselves from contracting the influenza virus. As multi-family industry professionals, we should consider the action items and steps that we can personally take to protect ourselves and others in the community. Below we will discuss some statistics of flu season, steps to take personally and professionally to prevent contraction and spreading of the flu virus, and ideas you can take to implement prevention.
Statistics on flu and cold season
Each year, cold and flu season is responsible for 44 million “sick-days” in the United States called, in by 11 million employed adults spread throughout the country. This statistically accounts for about a $9.5 billion-dollar financial burden on businesses, and even considers that 39% of the workforce will still report to work even when ill. Aside from work being the 3rd most likely place for individuals who have the cold or flu virus to frequent, according to the CDC, other locations that are highly frequented by sick individuals include local drug stores and grocery stores.
Where germs live
The flu and common cold are most contagious during the early onset. Unfortunately, this is also when people still may not realize there is anything wrong. They still feel well enough to go out in public and therefore can spread the virus without realizing the severity. As multi-family industry professionals, we work and operate where “home” is for many of these 11 million adults who do call in sick. This increases our exposure to their germs even when the resident opts to stay home to avoid spreading the virus. Since our place of work is their home, we must take extra caution to avoid getting sick. Below are some common places to consider taking extra precaution around when trying to avoid contracting the flu and common cold:
- Building entryways- including elevator buttons, handrails in stairwells and access points, door handles to common spaces in a community.
- Public restrooms in the gym or other common areas
- Hospitality and snack areas, such as a coffee bar or resident appreciation event gathering
- Common areas such as the local game room/tv lounge, business center, or conference room
- On-site fitness centers, weight rooms, or spin/yoga studios
How to protect your community
As multi-family professionals, we have a responsibility to create an atmosphere of safety and cleanliness when possible. Though we can’t guarantee the effectiveness of our efforts, it is part of our responsibility. There are a few recommendations that property teams can do to help protect the visitors and dwellers of a community, and by directly making a few adjustments on-site during this time of year:
- Supply paper towels instead of air dryers in common area restrooms to help reduce the number of bacteria left on hands after washing thoroughly with soap and water.
- Install hand sanitizer stations at entrances, stairwells, common areas, and restrooms to make sanitation easier for residents and team members on the go.
- Make microfiber cleaning cloths and sanitation wipes available to staff members so they can wipe down surfaces regularly with minimal additional effort.
In addition to the above recommendations, there are also other easy and fun ways to communicate and educate residents about flu season’s best practices. They may even create a heightened sense of resident satisfaction as you demonstrate your commitment to their community. Here are some ideas that may help spice up flu-prevention at your property:
- Host a pre-flu season event. Invite a local flu-shot vendor or offer flu-shot passes with an incentive to residents. The incentive can be small and often stores will partner and provide a “perk” to those residents that show up and get the shot! Think a discount on “Emergen-C” or “Airborne”.
- Include education in the monthly news letter for residents to read prior to the start of flu season. You could even announce the above pre-flu season event in the publication at the same time.
- Have resident care packages in the office or distribute them in an appropriate fashion for your specific community. Vendor partners and Buyers Access team members can offer great ideas and resources to do this if you have a tight resident-appreciation budget to work with.
What to do if you get sick
Even taking all the right preventative steps, you can sometimes still wind up sick. Once contracting a virus, it’s time to look at measures that can be taken to protect yourself and others while it runs its course. Remember, the flu virus is stronger in the beginning stages and can spread easier during this time. Staying home from work may be a good idea to have minimal contact with others. If you must report to work or engage in regular activities on some level, follow the below recommendations to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
- Wash your hands
- Invest in a protective dust-mask to wear outside of your individual space to avoid airborne germs from spreading
- Wipe down everything you touch with an antibacterial spray or wipe and allow it to dry naturally so it has ample time to kill bacteria and germs.
- Drink plenty of fluid and use paper cups or personal drinkware that won’t be washed and re-used in the office or public area.
- Rest more than you think you need to. Your immune system is already weakened substantially once you do get sick so this extra TLC can speed up recovery. If you reported to work and start to feel worse, re-evaluate your attendance and communicate any concerns to your workplace supervisor.
Getting sick is no fun and nobody ever wants to get sick. It’s important to remember the seriousness of the flu virus and consider that even mild strains can cause serious complications. Spreading bouts of sickness around the office or community can be decreased by following some of the above suggestions and preparing for the flu season accordingly. Buyers Access, and our supplier partners, are always available to help equip your team with the supplies needed to create an uninviting environment for germs associated with the flu virus and other bacteria. One of the best parts about being a part of the Buyers Access program is that you have an abundance of additional resources and extra sets of hands to call on when you need them. Contact our sales department at BASales@buyersaccess.com to get this support. If you are already a member, your account manager and the member services team can quickly help you get prepared by sourcing the best products and lower prices with additional savings on mass quantities when needed. Email email@example.com to reach out to your team of support and make your property safe this flu season!
October is Fire Safety Month in Multi-family
by Christin D. on 10/14/2019 5:34:31 PM
Welcome to Fire Safety Month
The month of October brings about some of the Fall seasons best comforts, as the leaves turn and the temperature drops. This can mean more pumpkin spice latte’s, or s’mores nights, social gatherings over delicious home cooked meals, and maybe throwing a few logs on the fire place. With the increase in heating and cooking during this time of the year there also comes the increased risk of fire. Because of this, October is known as Fire Safety Month. Whether you are a service provider, CEO, or on-site team member, as multi-family professionals, we all play a critical role in the area of fire prevention, precaution, and safety. So, what are some of the industry’s best practices in terms of fire safety?
Causes of Fire in Multi-family
Residential fires made up 29.1% of total fires by property type in some of the most recent data available, making it the second most common fire type behind outdoor fires. Closer living quarters and adjoining walls in multi-family structures increase the risk of fire. Fire in these structures can also impact more people and cause damage on a larger scale at a more rapid pace due to the co-existence of many in a single building.
Cooking fires made up 51.6% as the leading cause of all residential fires, with heating being the second most prevalent. The kitchen and bedrooms are also statistically the most common places for fires to start in residential homes. Residential buildings that include baseboard heaters, space heaters, electric stoves, and fireplaces heighten the risk of both instances occurring. For all these reasons and many more, ongoing fire safety and preparedness is extremely important for multi-family sites during October, the colder months, and throughout the year.
Provide Information in Advance
What things can we do as multi-family professionals to decrease fire risk? One of the most important things we can do is provide residents and teams detailed and easily understood fire information for education, training, preparedness and prevention. Furthermore, property management teams should have detailed working knowledge and training on how to respond to these emergency situations. Partnering with local fire departments, or Buyers Access vendors such as Cintas, is a great source to conduct fire safety training sessions with employees and residents at community gatherings. Get everyone as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, and be proactive!
Drafting a Property Specific Fire Safety Guide
When developing a fire safety guide to provide residents and team members, include a building diagram that marks the location of fire extinguishers, evacuation routes, stairwells, and fire pulls. The diagram should also identify designated exterior meeting areas for residents, vendors, and staff when evacuating the building. Other things to include are alternate routes for evacuation, additional stair access, tips for handling various emergency conditions such as smoke, being trapped, pets, and any other property specific information that may be helpful.
Time is everything when it comes to fire. Every 30 seconds a flame can double, filling up a room in a matter of minutes and making each second crucial. Organization and confidence should be a priority when training staff members on fire protocol. There is no guarantee that the community manager or service manager will be available to guide other employees during a fire, so it’s also important to plan and train accordingly. Team members gain confidence through education, and communication, role playing, and fire drills. Working with Buyers Access account managers and vendors can assist in this training process.
Types of Fire Safety Inspections
Multifamily communities have a critical responsibility to ensure certain fire and life safety requirements are always being met. Because of this, annual inspections are often required by local officials to ensure that code requirements are being met. Inspections on building fire alarm panels, pull station operation, fire extinguisher expiration dates, fire sprinklers, and visual requirements such as clear pathways are some of the more important fire related inspection items. If a property is in violation of any of these areas, authorities can issue an “order to comply” and issue fines until repairs have been completed.
Fire Safety Every Day
There are many other things to consider when protecting a community from fire hazards, which should be considered daily. Any time any fire safety device is malfunctioning it should be addressed and remediated immediately. Preventative maintenance inspections can serve as a great time to inspect interior and exterior fire safety devices. Encouraging residents to notify management of any safety risks is also helpful in case it is overlooked or not caught immediately by property staff.
A very common fire safety issue is burnt out “Emergency Exit” signs in hallways. Changing these bulbs promptly or utilizing LED bulbs in Exit signs, can minimize this risk. Fire doors should be automatically self-closing when the alarm sounds. Paying close attention to anything blocking these doors or preventing them from self-closing should be a priority, along with ensuring ease of ingress and egress in common areas at all times. If the fire doors are always closed, make sure self-closing and latching hardware are operating correctly so they consistently close immediately behind users.
Fire safety awareness is crucial no matter what time of year, and the above recommendations are a good start to protecting your property from associated risks. We hope you will apply some of the aforementioned best-practices into your fire safety routine. Buyers Access supplier partners such as Cintas and SmartBurner, can offer members quality solutions and services associated with fire safety. If you are in need of additional support or are curious on the savings you can realize by gaining access to the Buyers Access program, contact us at 1-800-445-9169 or by email Basales@buyersaccess.com. If your already a valued customer and are in need of assistance, reach out to member services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your account manager.
2019 Empower Conference Highlights
by Christin D. on 9/20/2019 11:27:00 AM
Have you ever been to a Buyers Access Empower Conference before?
The Buyers Access team hosted another memorable conference earlier this month where members and supplier partners spent 3 days collaborating on various industry topics while having a little fun. Breakout sessions, brainstorming, a reverse trade show, and face-to-face meetings between key industry professionals made this year’s EMPOWER event both productive and insightful for attendees.
During the 3-day event industry leaders explored topics such as industry trends, optimal use of resources and purchasing power, new product insights, and how to further utilize the Buyers Access teams in ordering, reporting, and streamlining bidding processes and partnerships. You could probably feel the energy from afar as the event burst with knowledge and genius, not to mention unforgettable fun. We can’t tell you all the secrets, but below we will share some highlights from the recent event and exciting new features to come.
Buyers Access Suppliers
Buyers Access partners with some of the industry’s best and most reputable suppliers to ensure we have the most relevant product offerings and selections available to members. With approximately 50 of the most well-known supplier partners on board, Buyers Access optimizes these relationships to leverage opportunities for members in purchasing, training, capital projects, standardization, and reporting, to name a few.
This year, Buyers Access suppliers from the below companies were able to work together with the Buyers Access team and members to present some of the newest innovative ideas and solutions for multi-family.
Suppliers in attendance included:
- The Home Depot PRO (formerly Wilmar)
- Ancillary Services Management
- HD Supply
- Bidders Access
- Energy Link
- Courtesy Connection
- Maintenance Supply Headquarters
- National Exemption Service
- BBC Lighting
If you are not currently a Buyers Access member but already purchase from any of the above, our team can easily integrate the Buyers Access advantages into your existing purchasing process. Our members get exclusive resources that add time back in their day, along with insights relating to multi-family MRO rollouts, and ongoing support to meet the new regulations and consumer trends.
Breakout Session Highlights
This year’s Empower 2019 breakout sessions were hosted by Home Depot Pro, Sherwin Williams, Staples, HD Supply, and Cintas. The sessions addressed many aspects relevant to keeping Buyers Access members ahead of the curve and at the forefront of competition in the multi-family arena. Innovation, optimization, standardization, and selection were common topics throughout the conference, which were more specifically addressed during these sessions.
Staples and Sherwin Williams provided innovative solutions to common challenges through service and product offerings, introducing and expanding on a variety of new additions to their product offerings. HD Supply and Cintas put a large emphasis on the many changing regulations and safety requirements directly related to multifamily properties. HVAC regulation changes, exclusive warranty programs, and other life-safety updates were discussed in detail. Home Depot Pro, formerly known as Wilmar, unveiled a Buyers Access member advantage program which addresses innovative technological offerings, product standardization, and maintenance optimization.
Brainstorming and the Reverse Trade Show
In addition to the informative workshops hosted by the leading national vendors listed above, Buyers Access members had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with suppliers and account managers during the legendary reverse trade show. During the event, teams were able to collaborate and strategize avenues for implementation of key topics covered at previous sessions. The trade show was fully equipped with a DJ, great music, an electrifying atmosphere, chocolate covered popcorn, and plenty of laughter.
The final day of the conference everyone gathered together over refreshments and coffee to discuss hot topics that were hand selected by conference attendees prior to the event. During this session attendees shared ideas, strategies, and gained new perspective on various industry topics. Maintenance and time saving technology was a popular area of choice among the group, and where Buyers Access account managers shared insight into standardization and the creation of product lists to promote savings and efficiency.The brainstorming session and breakouts were enticing, and everyone left with something new to apply and a team of support to execute for them on a variety of levels.
Until next time!
The Buyers Access program has proven to be of high value to any management companies looking to optimize performance, purchasing, and increase their bottom line. With industry changes constantly affecting the multi-family industry, creativity and innovation continue to stay at the forefront of our minds when providing value to our members. If you want to be a part of this “family” of thought leaders and become a member, contact us now and we will do a free purchasing analysis with no strings attached. We can be reached at BASales@buyersaccess.com or by calling 1-800-445-9169.
Refuse and Paint Expenses- Budget Edition!
by Christin D. on 8/9/2019 9:42:00 AM
This edition of the Buyers Access® budgeting series takes a look at two of the largest recurring expenses a property realizes in monthly operations; waste disposal services and property painting requirements. Here we will review some of the most complicated issues faced by management companies within these two categories and explore solutions that Buyers Access® can offer access to from vendors within our strategic partnerships network.
About waste, recycling, and valet services
Waste services are not a glamorous, value added benefit that can be seen in day to day operations on a property by residents or prospects. On the other hand, we can guarantee that the waste services (or lack thereof) will be immediately noticed when it goes awry. Receptacle overflows, jammed compactors, nasty smells, and bulk items sitting at the curb take away from a property’s curb appeal, and make for some unhappy residents in no time. Nothing is worse than conducting a weekend leasing tour, and the trash receptacle areas create a detraction to the property. Waste and recycling services may seem like an easy thing to manage from a resident’s perspective, but the behind the scenes “plan” can be a bit more complex.
Waste service needs are unique from property to property. One asset can contain multiple contracts and invoices to process and monitor depending on things like: property location, vendor selection, equipment needs, local ordinances, bulk item disposal needs. and valet recycling and doorstep valet waste services. All-encompassing waste services are sometimes hard to find depending on vendor offerings in the area, requiring management teams to keep track of separate contracts for each of the services. Everything from the hauling of half empty containers to “contaminated” recycling bins that the recycling company can’t haul, causing extra charges and fees for additional services outside of traditional scopes defined.
Buyers Access® and Refuse Specialists work together to offer Buyers Access® members a simple solution to their waste disposal services. Refuse Specialists is a team of waste consultants who analyze, renegotiate, and monitor invoices for property management companies. Their services have no upfront costs, and the savings Refuse Specialists realizes is passed on to customers, saving them 20%-40% on waste expenses without sacrificing services.
Refuse Specialists - 4 Step Solution
- Refuse Specialists contacts each waste company you are currently contracted with and renegotiates the contract keeping it to a minimum of a 5-year term to avoid annual expense increases.
- A waste analysis is conducted on the current waste activities which includes evaluating equipment on site, haul frequencies, and other aspects of the waste health of a property.
- Once the contracts are negotiated based on the analysis of the current health, the contracts are delivered directly to the property management team to review and sign off on when appropriate.
- After execution of the contract(s), Refuse Specialists continues to monitor every invoice that is received for waste and related waste services, extra charges, fees, inefficiencies, and other inaccuracies, saving you time and money!
All about paint
Budgeting for recurring and non-recurring paint expenses
Paint frequently accounts for a large portion of a property budget. Buyers Access®, provides members a competitive advantage through access to national supplier partners; PPG and Sherwin Williams. Members have access to lower pricing, additional design resources, and industry leading expertise through account management by both Buyers Access® and the chosen paint supplier. Through the Buyers Access® program, properties can effectively create a practical strategy to manage all painted surfaces and lower prices, while increasing quality and useful life.
Matching Existing Paint
Paint can vary immensely and create many challenges for properties when it comes to painting surfaces on the interior or exterior of the buildings. Newer properties with freshly painted walls at construction may be difficult to touch up when that first resident moves out because of the commonality of primer not being used when the fresh surface was painted at construction. Paint touch up becomes challenging with varying sheen and primer practices. Paint types must be evaluated considering such things as type of property, average length of resident stay, and even geographical location. Working with the paint suppliers in our program and Buyers Access® simplifies the development of paint programs for a property/company and aids in streamlining paint operations.
Varying Surfaces and Paint Selection
Exterior paint surfaces are diverse and require various textures, qualities, and finishes in order to last on surfaces for the expected life of the paint project. For example, using the incorrect type of paint for a site-wide front door painting project could be detrimental if the paint easily chips when residents enter and exit their homes. Not only do these peeling doors create an eye-sore, they can also cost the property even more money than originally intended if they all must be re-painted due to the improper paint being used originally. Both PPG and Sherwin Williams have a complete exterior paint program that includes such things surveying the exterior needs and photo imaging services. Keeping the exterior of your buildings looking fresh is an investment that can help attract and keep your residents!
Another example of potential shortcomings involved with improper paint selection can come in the form of increased risk and liability. It is common for properties to treat stairs and pathways in and outside the structures with paint as a surface, especially on concrete stairs and pathways. If the concrete is a smooth surface and the paint used is not porous enough or durable enough to withstand being on the floor, the property has increased its exposure to slips, trips, and falls along with the paint possibly peeling in an unreasonably short about of time. This can potentially cost the property money and time directly through re-touches or re-done paint projects, as well as liability issues.
Our team can help
Partnering with Buyers Access® eases the budgeting and decision-making process in waste and paint expenses. Buyers Access has key supplier partners: Refuse Specialists, Sherwin Williams, and PPG, who can aid in the budgeting process for these larger recurring expense categories. Not only do members have access to a full member services department and account management department within Buyers Access®, but they also have additional resources from industry leading experts specializing in streamlining paint and waste activities for multi-family communities. Contact our sales department today at email@example.com to learn how we can help your team through a successful budget season. If you are a current Buyers Access® customer, reach out to your account manager for more information regarding the programs and how you can get started.