While Cop27 failed to push the world towards a new deal on 1.5c, individual businesses are already committing to taking more radical action on climate change.  But for many companies, delivering sustainable facilities management is easier said than done. What do you need to make it a reality?

What is sustainable facility management?

Sustainable facilities management is about controlling procurement, supply chain process, energy use and asset management to achieve a carbon neutral or even ‘net positive’ impact on the environment. The aim is to maximise energy efficiency in buildings; while maintaining, reusing and recycling assets to extend their life-span and reduce carbon footprint.  

Greater sustainability in our use of buildings not only protects the planet from more waste and pollution, but promises to reduce costs for businesses as energy prices rise and fines for non-compliance increase.

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Cop 27 failure leaves world 'on the brink'

Sadly, Cop 27 bought no fresh deal around 1.5c, even for a world “on the brink of climate catastrophe” as the Un secretary general put it.  This has implications for everyone:

Our planet is still in the emergency room”, said António Guterres, Secretary general of the UN, emerging from the summit, “We must drastically reduce emissions now – this is an issue this Cop did not address. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.”

But if the politicians can’t lead, it’s up to business.

Business in the spotlight

Right now 20% of all the UKs’ CO2 emissions come from the commercial sector. 

And as the UK committee on climate change has said: 

It will be businesses that will primarily deliver the net-zero target and provide the vast majority of the required investment”

Currently, a third of all the UK’s largest companies including, AstraZeneca, BT Group, Sainsbury’s, and Unilever have committed to voluntarily matching and exceeding the governments’ net-zero targets.

Regulatory oversight and costs set to increase

At the same time, analysts are saying the UK’s legal commitment to reach net-zero targets will inevitably mean higher prices in certain procurement areas.  Meanwhile, fines and charges for non-compliance around eco-legislation will increase.

Businesses must be prepared for more regulation to support international efforts to deliver:

  • Cleaner energy initiatives
  • More ecologically responsible procurement practices
  • More recycling and less landfill

Customers and workers up the pressure

The need to become greener and more efficient is now also being driven directly by customers and workers.  

  • 70% of consumers’ decision-making is driven by environmental considerations.
  • 83% of workers think their companies are ‘not doing enough’ on climate change
  • 65% of workers say they want to work for a company with a strong environmental policy
  • 75% of millennial workers said that they’d take a salary cut to work in a 'greener' company

FM are critical to deliver sustainability in business

As the International Energy Agency points out:

Success will depend on business cleaning up energy sources, reducing emissions from appliances and retrofitting buildings, as well as making gains in efficiency to enable energy demand to fall”

And FM are critical to making this happen.

Sustainable FM: Who's ready?

Some businesses already have smart building technology in place. They’re using IoT enabled equipment and even AI to track, model and control asset condition and energy consumption in their companies.

Others are much less advanced in their building and equipment management.  But these businesses still need effective digital data and controls to maximise performance and efficiency of their assets and teams.  

With a flexible, cloud-based CAFM, companies without smart building infrastructure in place, can still establish the framework, process and 

9 ways a CAFM can make businesses more sustainable

1. Tighten supply chain management

More control and visibility over the supply chain is vital if we’re going to make the right decisions for the environment and prove compliance with regulations when required. Choose a CAFM to help you manage record-keeping around different suppliers. Ensure you have up-to-date details about their sustainability certifications and accreditation in place, et KPIs and measure performance so that you can meet environmental standards like ISO 14001:2105 in the future. 

2. Enable sustainable procurement

Use parts ordering software to:

  • Manage all orders through approved suppliers
  • Procure with sustainability in mind
  • Achieve economies of scale
  • Group deliveries to save unnecessary journeys

3. Increase asset lifespan

Ensure Facilities Managers have digital asset registers which can give them detailed oversight of equipment performance. Service equipment regularly to reduce failure and the need to scrap equipment early. Give your team the data and tools they need to plan preventive maintenance and increase asset longevity. 

How to save money and the planet with asset lifecycle management

4. Identify inefficient assets

More access to data trends through digital asset management tools will help you see where assets are performing inefficiently. Ensure engineers are recording performance data in a CAFM during regular inspections. Use data to take action to optimise critical assets performance, improve efficiency and control overall energy consumption. 

5. Integrate building management and CAFM systems

Pave the way for more joined-up and energy-efficient management of your facilities. Gary Bark at Optimised Buildings points out that although cutting-edge technology (solar panelling and predictive analytics using Iot) is a key part of the drive towards net zero we need to start looking at low-hanging fruit first. Too many businesses are ignoring the small that tighter processes and procedures could eliminate 

  • Air conditioning and heating units left on the same settings all year
  • Lights left on in businesses overnight
  • HVAC units running inefficiently - in need of maintenance and filter changes

With more integration between BMS and CAFM systems businesses can:

  • Flow energy usage data to FM teams dashboards
  • Trigger workflows for routine energy conservation procedures 
  • Automatically flag and correct detected energy waste across your estate

6. Reduce over-maintenance

Engineers making multiple trips to repeatedly fix equipment, and badly organised maintenance schedules can contribute to the unnecessary carbon footprint of a company spread out over multiple sites. Choosing the right CAFM system can help you plan the movement of engineers and contractors, ensuring engineering visits are managed and optimised for maximum efficiency.

7. Embrace the circular economy

Right now in the UK 1.2 million office desks and 1.8 million office chairs end up in landfill each year.  In the hospitality industry 11.8 megatonnes of catering equipment go to landfill, globally. This throw away culture is increasing carbon footprint as we get in an endlessly repeated cycle of ‘buy and dispose’. As we drive towards net- zero, we need to procure more responsibly and become part of a more sustainable supply chain.

But only when you’ve got the data about the performance and longevity of equipment (including cost of ownership and disposal) can you make effective commercial decisions about what's the right investment for you.

When you have this data you can justify Capex on furniture and equipment that might be more expensive, but has a smaller carbon footprint and is more sustainable, durable and recyclable.

8. Streamline FM services

In businesses with multiple sites and FM teams a single, cloud-based CAFM system built for mobile, can help you centralise control and shift to a paperless approach. Many clients have found they can operate entirely virtual helpdesks which reduce the need for workers to commute and required office space.

9. Become eco-data driven

Net-zero initiatives need to be targeted and measured. You need control over people and process to ensure you are procuring responsibly and managing assets in the most efficient way possible. Using a CAFM can create a framework for sustainable working that will become 'the way you do things' - it helps you turn targets into real-world KPIs that you can track and measure over time.

Taking steps to deliver on net zero doesn’t have to be about investing in expensive photovoltaic cells for your roof or costly IoT straight away, there are smaller but still significant steps FM teams can take that will help them optimise the performance of their assets and teams incrementally.

By improving oversight and control of facilities through a CAFM system you can begin to rein in previously invisible waste, optimise asset performance, control unnecessary energy consumption, and justify Capex decisions that can make your company an active part of the ‘circular economy’.

3 steps to choose the right CAFM software

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