Take Our Survey

July 22nd, 2014 by admin

Do you participate in hotels green initiatives while travelling?

a. Yes, always
b. When it’s convenient
c. When there is incentive
d. Never

Portfolio-Wide Sustainability: A Snapshot of GSA Initiatives

July 22nd, 2014 by TRT Blog

Guest author: Eleni Reed, Chief Greening Officer, Public Building Service, US General Services Administration

Creating a more sustainable government is central to GSA’s mission. As the government’s real estate manager, we are taking steps to make our portfolio more sustainable in support of the Obama administration’s green goals.

GSA owns or leases 9,011 assets, which includes maintaining an inventory of more than 377 million rentable square feet of workspace, and preserving more than 471 historic properties.

GSA_Star_Mark®(RGB)GSA is actively taking steps to reduce carbon pollution associated with its operations. The agency leverages technology such as advanced metering, remote building analytics and smart building systems to uncover deeper energy savings opportunities in owned buildings. In FY 2013, GSA reduced energy usage per square foot by 24.7 percent from FY 2003 levels.  GSA continues to increase the amount of electricity it procures and generates from renewable sources, reaching 46.3 percent (nearly 1,200 GWh) in FY13.  Through these activities, GSA achieved an approximately 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in FY13 from FY 2008 levels.

GSA also uses Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) to improve the efficiency of our buildings through infrastructure upgrades to our building portfolio. As part of the administration’s ESPC Challenge, GSA awarded contracts ranging from 12 to 23 years in payback duration that are projected to reduce the agency’s annual energy consumption by 365 billion Btus, or about the amount of energy used in 3,380 single family homes per year.

GSA will be using an industry technology called “green button” as part of a government-wide program to help reduce energy consumption.  Green button provides electricity consumers with secure, easy to understand information on their energy usage by leveraging advanced metering data. GSA partnered with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency and worked with several utilities to craft a pilot program to use the green button for federal facilities.

GSA’s Green Proving Ground puts green technologies to the test.  The program leverages owned assets to perform real-world evaluations of the performance of emerging building technologies that save energy, water, and money.  Fifteen results have been published to date. These findings will continue to improve performance in our buildings while assisting industry in deploying new technologies and practices into the broader market.

The agency further reduces the environmental footprint of its owned portfolio through water use reduction and waste prevention.  In FY 2013, GSA reduced water usage by over 27 percent from an FY 2007 baseline. This reduction represents over 807 million gallons of water, or the annual water use of over 5,500 average U.S. homes. Additionally, GSA diverted 52 percent of its non-hazardous solid waste from landfills through its recycling programs in FY13.

A leader in sustainable design, GSA was recently recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE).  The COTE selected the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, in Portland, Oregon, the U.S. Land Port of Entry at Warroad, Minnesotaand the historic Wayne Aspinall N. Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colorado, as three of its top 10 national award winners of sustainable architecture and green design solutions to protect and enhance the environment.  Overall, GSA continues to implement the federal Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings in owned buildings and leased space.  In FY 2013, 13.5 percent of the GSA building inventory met these high performance benchmarks.

By continuing to reduce its environmental footprint, GSA will improve building performance and save taxpayer dollars.

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Greening LA: Putting sustainable initiatives in motion

July 18th, 2014 by TRT Blog

Last week, councilman Paul Koretz proposed an inspiring motion to reduce the carbon footprint of Los Angeles 80 percent by 2050.  Koretz discussed plans to increase the city’s transition from coal to renewable energy sources by adding more trees, solar rooftops and deploying more clean-burning garbage trucks.

Eco Architecture: Green BuildingHowever, if LA isn’t able to replace energy it currently buys from the coal-fired plants in Utah, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) may need to buy more solar and wind energy.  Though it is 100% carbon-emission free, it is costly.  It is promising to see that the LADWP is on track to reduce carbon emissions by 58 percent in 2025, and up to 70 percent by 2030.

At The Refinishing Touch, we pride ourselves on our green credentials and all our products are safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.  We work hard to reduce carbon emissions of government edifices and it’s encouraging to see communities take steps towards becoming greener and managing their environmental impact. We hope the Los Angeles climate change plan will inspire others to do the same and take a more proactive approach to becoming environmentally conscious.

Do you know the impact of your organization’s activities on the environment? When it comes to replacing furniture, there’s a huge impact – just consider that cutting down one tree to make new furniture produces more than 58 tons of CO2 with an additional 7.4 tons produced to then cut that tree into sections and transport it. By the time you add assembling and shipping, the total is an estimated 125.32 tons of CO2 for every 100 rooms of furniture, compared to less than 1.25 tons for 100 rooms of refinished furniture.

To calculate your carbon footprint – and see how you can reduce it with furniture asset management – follow this link.

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Take Our Survey

July 16th, 2014 by admin

How long should a government office wait before it renovates?

a. 1-3 years
b. 4-5 years
c. 6-10 years
d. 11+ years

Safety first: Refinish with caution

July 15th, 2014 by TRT Blog

With any renovation project – whether it be on a large-scale or done at home – safety comes first. Oftentimes, particularly when refinishing furniture on your own, it’s difficult to identify the dangers and utilize the correct materials to minimize accidents. In recent years, whether it be a hotel or a home, dangerous situations have made the news.

For example, a stubborn fire broke out in Oakland hills last year believed to have been caused by rags soaked in chemicals and left in an enclosed basement by one of the occupants living in the home refinishing a piece of furniture. We’re relieved no one was injured in the Oakland hills fire, however the accident should serve as a warning to anyone to all refinishing professionals or those taking on projects individually.

Repairing and restoring old furniture yourself is fun and enjoyable, and a great way to save money. Upcycling existing assets rather than replacing saves on product costs, shipping costs and the cost to the environment while more than doubling the assets lifespan – it is an important route to consider in any renovation.

However caution must be taken when using dangerous chemicals and items shouldn’t be left unattended in the process. Remember that traditional chemicals are flammable so where possible always do the work outside, or ensure there is adequate ventilation as oily rags can spontaneously combust.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals with a high vapor pressure emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs come from common refinishing materials including paint strippers, cleaning supplies, paints and lacquers. Concentrations of many VOCs may be up to ten times higher than outdoors.

As a company that lives and breathes sustainability, we actively encourage people to think green, and refinishing, repairing or remanufacturing items at home, or employing professional service contractors to do so is a fantastic way to be both cost and environmentally efficient.

At The Refinishing Touch, we ensure the safety of our customers and their guests by eliminating toxic and hot chemicals through the use of low –VOC, nonvolatile compounds and safe materials for refinishing projects. All our products are non-toxic, drastically reducing the risk of fire, and environmentally friendly.

To learn more about The Refinishing Touch’s low-VOC lacquers and safe materials, get in touch today at sales@therefinishingtouch.com

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Happy Fourth of July from The Refinishing Touch!

July 14th, 2014 by TRT Blog

It’s Independence Day and as a company proudly founded in the United States 37 years ago, the entire team at The Refinishing Touch is looking forward to celebrating the opportunities and successes our country has brought to us.

On this Fourth of July, we would like to take some time out of all the celebration to thank you – our  customers, employees, partners and blog readers – for following us on our journey to sustainable furniture asset management and allowing us to share our services and ideas with you.

We’re looking forward to another year of beautifying the nation’s hotels, government edifices and college campuses and incorporating more green to the red, white and blue ideals of the U.S.

From all of us at The Refinishing Touch, have a safe, happy and relaxing Fourth of July!

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It’s time to get educated: USGBC brings green to the classroom

July 11th, 2014 by TRT Blog

The US Green Building Council has revealed national plans to educate all students on sustainability.  Its ultimate goal is for all students to possess extensive knowledge and understanding surrounding environmental issues. Currently, the organization is laying the groundwork the creation of working groups, an online communication platform and a funding campaign.

Green sustainability awardsBy 2040 the council aims to increase environmental awareness. To do so, the Council has partnered with education leader Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to develop a plan that outlines involvement from all 50 states whereby each state adopts a comprehensive green policy including a graduation requirement in sustainability literacy by 2040.

Without proper education, the future of our environment is sure to worsen. Therefore, as a company that’s spent a lot of time greening the nation’s campuses, we commend the US Green Building Council for taking an active role in educating the younger generation and bringing environmental and sustainability issues to the forefront of conversation and curriculum.

If you’d like to learn more about this initiative, please see the full article here. To help your college or university boost green ratings, get in touch with a furniture asset management professional today: sales@therefinishingtouch.com

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Take Our Survey

July 8th, 2014 by admin

Would you pay more to stay at a hotel that is environmentally friendly?

a. Yes
b. No
c. It depends on how much more

NYU to restore, not rebuild building for new sustainable academic center

July 7th, 2014 by TRT Blog

As a company that provides refinishing, remanufacturing and reupholstery services to many higher education facilities across the United States and Canada, the team here at The Refinishing Touch couldn’t be more excited to read that New York University (NYU) has opted to restore elemerenovatents of the recently acquired Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters, rather than replace during the makeover of its 500,000-square-foot Jay St property in Brooklyn.

Plans for the old MTA headquarters, though not quite as futuristic as originally planned, include an open atrium with subway entrance, restoring the building’s existing limestone front, a green roof, new mechanical plumbing and electrical systems.

The University estimates that by restoring rather than renovating, it will reduce construction landfill waste by approximately 4,000 cubic yards. Re-commissioning existing assets is a fantastic alternative to replacement.  Not only does it eliminate waste, but it also helps to bring down costs, save time and reduce harmful effects on the environment – such as unnecessary carbon emissions.

For more information about the project at NYU, please read the full article here. To learn more about furniture asset management, tweet us at @RefinishTouch.   


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Take Our Survey

July 1st, 2014 by admin

Which industry do you think had made the most effort to go green?

a. Higher education
b. Government
c. Hotels

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