Color-Coded Sustainability System

At the recent ISSA show in Chicago, Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC, again called for the adoption of an industry-wide, sustainability color-coding system that he had proposed elsewhere earlier this year.

 A sustainability color-coding system would allow building managers and cleaning professionals to place unobtrusive colored dots that stick on to a variety of power sources and power using devices in facilities.

This would include “plug load” items such as light switches, desk lamps, fans and space heaters, monitors, printers, power strips, thermostats, vending machines, etc power strips, thermostats, vending machines, etc., many of which can be turned off or turned down at certain times to save energy.


Ashkin offered the following color coding system as an example:

·                 • RED: A red dot would be placed on lights, equipment, and power sources that should be turned off at the end of each workday and on weekends.

·                 * GREEN: A green dot would be placed on items that should be left on.

·                  • YELLOW: A yellow dot on a power source or piece of equipment would signify that building management or a designated person should be notified these systems are on.

• BLUE: A blue dot would indicate an item, such as a vending machine, should be turned off only on the weekends.*


“Color-coding systems are not new to the professional cleaning and building industries,” says Ashkin. “This is just a new use for the concept…and considering that ‘plug load’ represents 10 to 20 percent of a building’s electricity consumption, turning these devices off when unneeded can save money and reduce environmental impacts.”

Ashkin adds that along these benefits, a key advantage of a sustainability color-coding system is that it creates a culture of sustainability. “Seeing the dots reminds building users that they can play a major role in reducing consumption and protecting natural resources.”

*Vending machines can use as much as 4,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, about a third of what is used in the average U.S. household in one year. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

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