As flexible working now becomes the norm across the board, it’s unlikely we’ll see commercial buildings returning to their full capacity anytime soon – which has raised questions about the need for this space, how to maximise its efficiency when in use and how to eliminate wasted energy when vacant.
For facilities managers in particular, they have been presented with a whole range of new challenges to ensure that commercial spaces are not only operationally optimised but energy-efficient – yet they often lack visibility of energy consumption across an estate.
With commercial office space lighting currently burning through enough energy in a year to heat a home for almost five months, facilities managers should consider how technological, and organisational changes can play a key role in achieving energy efficiency.
Know Your Processes Inside Out
Effective facilities management is as much about people and processes, as it is about technology. To achieve high-performing ‘green’ facilities, you need high-performing facility management. A facilities manager should know their premises, equipment, and people inside-out; from managing HVAC to energy supply to fire safety, there’s broad scope for facilities managers to improve their space’s environmental impact across these areas.
According to the UKGBC, the facilities environment contributes approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint, with almost half of this coming from the country’s infrastructure and energy that buildings use. Therefore it’s important to look at the immediate changes your business can make, before even considering technology.
Innovation expert Erica Wolfe-Murray says a company’s first steps on the sustainability ladder should be to ‘conduct an audit that looks at internal systems before reviewing external supply’, with heating, power generation and water supply all key areas. It’s an exercise that is truly eye-opening.
One Step At A Time
Sometimes, it’s the simple changes that can have the biggest impact across an estate.
For example, it’s estimated that office lights left on overnight currently use enough energy in a year to heat a home for almost five months according to the Energy Saving Trust. Simply turning off this unneeded lighting could remove approximately 171kg of CO2 emissions per year – and likely save businesses thousands of pounds.
Consider the next steps you can take, however. Turning off lights when they’re not needed is step one; replacing lights with LEDs that consume around 60% less energy than traditional bulbs is step two. Certain light fixtures will still need bulbs but switching to low-wattage wastes less energy and will be more cost-effective if implemented across an entire estate.
The Power Of Connective Technology
One of the most important KPIs of a facilities management team is their ability to increase the energy efficiency of a building for their tenants. Unfortunately, this can prove difficult with no concrete overarching method to monitor this information.
By utilising smart technology – like Internet of Things connective sensors – facilities managers can now have a real-time overview of how energy is used within a property, and where it is being used too much. This technology can also be integrated into legacy assets, eliminating the need to rip and replace old systems, and can help to optimise energy usage during peak hours.
For example, scheduling machine down-time during expensive energy-usage hours can save money while also increasing facility sustainability.
And so, when reviewing your efficiency plans for 2022 and beyond it’s important to realise that simple initiatives can often yield plentiful results. And once you’re on board, it’s vital to use technology to ensure sustainable change remains sustainable.