Industry spotlight: Ron Thompson, director of housing and residence life, Furman University

October 31st, 2014 by TRT Blog

We’re pleased to welcome Ron Thompson, the director of housing and residence life at Furman University. Based in South Carolina, Furman University is one of the nation’s top undergraduate liberal arts universities with a strong community where all students are housed onsite for four years, and an internationally-acclaimed campus which is recognized for its beauty. Ron shares some of his insights into higher education facilities management at Furman University with our readers.

In my day-to-day role I work with partners across campus – internal operations, financial services, academic affairs and, of course, facilities services. I’m also a bridge between residents and behind-the-scenes employees, and understand first-hand the importance of furniture asset management to all involved.

Furniture asset management can be tricky business, particularly in the higher education industry. All of our students live onsite, so their environment is a major part of their decision-making process, as well as their quality of life once they’ve enrolled. Developing a comfortable, well-maintained and healthy student environment requires both foresight and planning.

Versatility is also key. College campuses such as ours are used to host tradeshows, conferences and summer camps during the longer vacations. Furniture assets must not only be relevant to each of these audiences, but able to sustain the additional wear and tear.

At Furman we recognize the importance of well-maintained and updated assets, including furniture. So we have a furniture asset management strategy and plan that is clearly articulated to staff across departments – housing services, facilities, financial. This is essential to reducing costs, reducing downtime and ensuring satisfaction to all those we serve. With a clear understanding of your establishment’s furniture inventory at all times, it is simple to map out what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and what it will cost.

It’s also important to realize that it’s not all about buying new. We have utilized refinishing services on more than one occasion. Quality pieces need not be disposed of due to an outdated look and feel – refinishing provides a cost-friendly face-lift.

Last but not least, always consider the green approach. Consider and adopt LEED standards wherever possible. Be sure that your sustainability office is present for housing decision-making. And offer your students environmentally-friendly options such as recycling, energy management and water management.

At Furman, we’re proud of our Engaged Living program – which offers first year students a variety of on-campus communities to live in including an environmental community, where students live in our most sustainable facilities and enroll in environmental courses.

Higher education professionals at all levels have a difficult job. But the proper management of furniture assets can bring peace of mind to housing directors, financial staff and facilities management across campus.

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TTake Our Survey

October 29th, 2014 by admin

As a citizen, how much do you care about your government’s impact on the environment?

a. Very much
b. Somewhat
c. Not at all

Green Engage: The new online sustainability portal from IHG

October 28th, 2014 by TRT Blog

We’re always scanning the news for environmental innovations in our core industries – higher education, hospitality and government. Yesterday, we were pleased to come across the announcement of InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) new global Green Engage program.

It’s a revolutionary offering to hoteliers allowing them to track their energy, water and carbon usage online. The online tool also provides an outlet for the assessment of waste handling – a process that is oftentimes not carried out sustainably.

Alongside tracking, Green Engage boasts more than 200 ‘Green Solutions’ to best help establishments lower environmental impact, improve efficiency and report to stakeholders, management, guests and the hospitality community.

Many hotels have begun implementing real-world practices to reduce carbon footprints and raise green awareness, but it is truly encouraging to see such a large power in the hospitality industry introduce such a powerful, sustainable tool into the framework of so many hotel brands globally.

Green Engage provides actionable insights for hoteliers as well as valuable cost-savings data, which will serve to push even more green initiatives through.

While this is a new announcement for IHG, the program has implemented at 2,646 hotels in the past year with great results – 16,000 green solutions were implemented in 2013.

We’ll be keeping our eyes on this space – we’re truly looking forward to seeing how this innovations changes the face on hotel eco management.

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Dr. Rogers’ brings hope and sustainability to Canada’s McGill University

October 24th, 2014 by TRT Blog

Though earlier in the week we reported on Canada’s struggles with sustainability, we also wanted to take the time to commend the country for its above-average environmental research initiatives. Recently, the Government of Canada was awarded a grant for its Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program. This grant brought in top talent – and not for the first time

outline map of canada on blackboardDr. Robin Rogers has joined the CERC team out of McGill University to develop new green chemicals for Canadian agricultural, industry and energy needs.

Launched in 2008, CERC provides funds to universities to support important researchers and research programs. The program focuses on four main areas of research – two of them environmental including environmental sciences and technologies and natural resources and energy.

It is great to see CERC and similar programs forging ahead in Canada, helping to ensure a greener future for its citizens. Sustainability at all levels is so important and we are looking forward to seeing what Dr. Rogers and McGill University create in the coming years.

To learn more about CERC and Robin Rogers, please click here. If you’re interested in how The Refinishing Touch is reducing Canadian environmental footprints, get in touch today.


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Take Our Survey

October 22nd, 2014 by admin

In which country do you think dorms are more environmentally friendly?

a. US
b. Canada
c. Neither

Can Canada meet its goal? Sustainability initiatives falling short

October 21st, 2014 by TRT Blog

We are always pleased to see the sustainability movement gaining momentum, and were thrilled to see so much recent coverage on worldwide gatherings aimed at combatting global warming.

The United Nations Climate Summit was held in New York City during the last week of September. The summit was attended by politicians, scientists and celebrities who acknowledge the immediate need for action.  A week prior, everyday people from around the world took part in The People’s Climate March to demand action from world leaders to end the crisis.  One country that has seen a recent call to action is Canada.

Green world lightbulbCanada made a commitment under Stephen Harper’s government in 2009 to reduce greenhouse emissions by 17 percent by 2020.  It is becoming clear now that the nation will most likely not attain this level of reduction leaving many to question what can be done to end the ‘sustainability deficit’.

Refinishing, reupholstering or remanufacturing existing furniture assets is a proven method of reducing carbon emissions. It takes about 1,000 times more CO2 to manufacture a new piece of furniture. Compare this to refinishing and the overall Co2 emissions are reduced by an estimated 124.08 tons.

At The Refinishing Touch, we work hard every day to help leading hotels, universities and government agencies throughout Canada uphold high standards of excellence while reducing their environmental footprints.  Furniture asset management is not the standalone solution to global warming, but it certainly assists in the comprehensive plan required to make a difference.

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Hospitality: Go green to save green

October 17th, 2014 by TRT Blog

We hear this a lot: “Going green is too costly”. It’s a damaging misconception – damaging to the environment, and damaging to bottom lines. Because the truth is, sustainable practices, products and initiatives more often than not can reduce budgets.

TRT_Hotel imageLast month, the Los Angeles Times’ Hugo Martin, delved into how hoteliers can save some green by going green, citing three studies done by Cornell University professors. While the majority of guests may not spend more money to stay at an environmentally-responsible hotel, establishments with impressive LEED ratings are less expensive to operate, thus generating higher profits.

Sustainable initiatives can stretch to all aspects of hotel operations and maintenance. Energy efficiency cuts costs dramatically, while guest-focused programs such as linen reuse encourage loyalty. It’s also important for hoteliers to remain eco-conscious on big decisions.

As brands evaluate new PIPs and move towards renovation, alternatives to buying new should be considered. By instead choosing furniture asset management – the refinishing, reupholstery or remanufacturing of existing pieces – carbon emissions are dramatically reduced, harmful landfill waste is eradicated and costs are cut.

Take the Doubletree Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina for example. For its specific project scope, new furniture would have cost $403,599.18. Instead, it chose refinishing. Its total cost ended up being only $55,359.00. That’s a 71% cost saving the location was able to reallocate to other needs. And through the use of low-VOC lacquers and on-site work, the project protected the environment.

To learn more about the Cornell studies, please click here. Get in touch with us on Twitter at @RefinishTouch

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Take Our Survey

October 17th, 2014 by admin

How important to you is it to be green in your home or office?

a. I like to be as green as possible
b. I incorporate sustainability whenever I remember
c. Never

Changing the face of procurement – New university policies make campuses greener

October 14th, 2014 by TRT Blog

The higher education industry has evolved in many ways, but to us one of the most important is its embrace of sustainability. Lyn Meany of recently took a deep dive into all of the ways campuses across the United States are getting greener – and the numbers are impressive.

commgreenThere are many reasons for the change, but perhaps not surprisingly, one of the most prominent is competition. As today’s youth becomes more informed on environmental issues, it becomes a larger factor in their decision making – and universities are competing for a smaller student pool than ever.

As providers of sustainable renovation options to colleges and universities, we’re particularly pleased to see the change in procurement policies. The National Association of Educational Procurement and SciQuest found that 65 percent of procurement officials are now required to explore green options before making a purchasing decision.

The Refinishing Touch team provides on-site, eco-friendly refinishing, reupholstery and remanufacturing services to eliminate harmful carbon emissions and unnecessary landfill waste – but it also cuts costs. This is the factor that turns many establishments away from sustainable objects – the misconception that it will raise costs. Through improved procurement policies, colleges and universities are discovering  how untrue this is, and are finally making the right, environmentally responsible decisions.

To learn more from Lyn, please see the full article here. To learn more about furniture asset management, please get in touch today at

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AASHE switches it up: Conference to encompass multiple Portland campuses

October 10th, 2014 by TRT Blog

As regular attendees of industry tradeshows, it’s refreshing to see new ways to add to the visitor experience. One event doing just that is this month’s annual Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference which is being co-hosted by three universities that excel in eco-friendly living.

Sustainability is becoming a deciding factor when choosing a college to attendIn line with the theme: ‘Innovation of Sustainable Economies and Communities’, Lewis & Clark College, Portland Community College and Portland State University will give tours of their campuses to attendees eager to learn more about incorporating sustainable practices.

Lewis & Clark College makes educating today’s youth a priority. Its facilities boast many sustainable products and processes, but it also offers a variety of degrees in the field including an Environmental Studies major, Environmental and Natural Resources Law program and a Ecopsychology in Counseling certificate program.

Down the road at Portland Community College (PCC), AASHE members and public attendees will see the PCC Sustainability program in action. Initiatives such as the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day, the PCC EcoChallenge Team and the Green Initiative Fund have come together to transform the campus into  a living laboratory for environmentalism – and make a major dent in carbon emissions, landfill waste, and to protect the earth’s future.

Portland State University combines research, education and action to instill eco-awareness. Its Sustainability Leadership Center allows students and staff to volunteer, educate, learn and make a lasting difference on the campus, community and environment. Just prior to the AASHE conference, the school will even be hosting its own sustainability day.

Each of these schools will offer unique and actionable insights into sustainability in practice and in education to AASHE attendees. We are looking forward to all that Portland has to offer, and all of the changes we’ll see in higher education as a result.

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