The Future is Now: Embracing Sustainable Facility Management with Custom IT Solutions
It is no surprise that facilities are very consuming in terms of energy resources throughout their whole lifecycle — from construction and use to their demolition.
According to the statistics, today’s buildings and facilities are responsible for 36% of total greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of total energy consumption in the European Union.
Sounds like a huge problem for our planet, right?
That is why aside from establishing the ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) program, the European Commission started creating various regulations and directives aimed at addressing these concerns regularly.
In this article, we will dwell on how exactly sustainable facility management operational strategies for today can be improved with IT solutions to meet the sustainable goals of the company and whether it is worth doing.
What is sustainable facility management?
These days many companies started reconsidering all their working processes because of the external pressure aimed at meeting sustainable facilities management goals.
But what is sustainability facility management itself?
To put it simply, it means employing facility management sustainable practices that will help decrease environmental resource depletion and support ESG goals. In other words, the company must ensure that every building reduces its impact on the environment.
All this directly affects every department within the organization as well as the large long-term company’s business goals, which sometimes means changes in all the daily operations and the whole structure of the building.
How does sustainable facility management benefit the environment?
Buildings, and facilities, in particular, are not just some architectural structures that form a cityscape. They directly affect the environment and humans that live nearby. That is why the fact that a building is constructed with sustainability in mind determines if they use more energy, increase the level of carbon dioxide emissions, contribute to global warming, and, most importantly, have a negative impact on people's health.
Besides, such factors as the use of toxic materials within the facility, air quality, and maintenance issues (such as mold or pests) affect the health of your workforce negatively. That is why it is essential to opt for green infrastructure, where your facility coexists with nature and not aims at harming it.
It is also advisable to use eco-friendly products, tools, and energy sources to perform your responsibilities. Such a phrase as reduce, reuse, and recycle must become the motto of many sustainable companies that try to reduce their pollutants level.
Importance of ESG metrics in sustainable facility management
Most companies today do have their sustainability goals. Of course, sometimes they just promise about developing sustainable solutions for facility management as a response to tough governmental regulations.
However, more often organizations start seeing their main aim, namely saving our planetary resources, and, more importantly, their money.
Probably any leader who once saw a huge energy bill for running a facility would start thinking of how green facilities can help reduce this spending. And for this, they must take care of ESG metrics.
So, what are the ESG metrics in sustainable facility management?
ESG metrics are mainly used in ESG facility management to assess whether a company is able to achieve sustainable growth and what impact it has on the planet.
We can divide these metrics into the following groups:
- Social: working and safety conditions for employees, human rights, skills development, equality, and community integration.
- Environmental: eco-friendly facility management, including sustainable use of resources, waste and carbon reduction, recycling, pollution prevention, and protection of a healthy ecosystem.
- Governance: elimination of modern slavery, compliance with all governmental regulations, robust sustainable facility management solutions, and anti-corruption protocol.
Of course, there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to sustainability in facilities management. That is why every organization needs to try what best works in their case.
About sustainability and intelligent buildings
Green or intelligent buildings are one of the focus trends of sustainable facility management practices. More and more environmentally conscious companies search for green building management partners who can provide them with the necessary equipment and solutions to ensure sustainability in FM and, thus, reduction of carbon footprint.
What tools and technologies are available to support sustainable facility management? Here are some of the green building automation systems and practices that help with it:
Smart HVAC control
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (or simply HVAC) are one of the most energy-consuming things in facility management. This means that even if you make some minor improvements, you will benefit from it a lot even in the short run.
If you opt for smart energy-efficient FM solutions powered by iOT or based on the Cloud, you can get valuable real-time information from all your sensors (temperature, pressure, and activity). This way, you will be able to monitor and control the work of your HVAC equipment, adjust it when needed, and reduce spending.
Automated lighting control
If you employ IoT sensors, you can control what lights need to be on as well as their intensity. Having intelligent facility management like this will help you reduce the amount of energy consumed, and lower utility bills as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Besides, if you have a proven environmentally conscious profile, this can help you increase your brand reputation and build better relationships with your local community.
Improved working conditions
Smart building technology should always be aimed at improving employees’ working conditions. That said, real-time air quality monitoring and its self-regulation will allow you to find the optimal use of ventilation and heating systems to ensure a healthy indoor atmosphere for your workers. This can significantly increase employees’ occupancy rate as well as their productivity and morale.
Reduced spending on operations and maintenance
If you have smart sustainable FM technologies onboard, this won’t only allow you to have smooth operations but give you valuable data on the condition of your equipment.
What is more, many AI and ML-powered tools can notify you about abnormal behavior of your equipment at an early stage, making preventive management practices possible. Your maintenance team will be able to prevent faults, save money on repairs, and avoid any negative consequences of equipment and machinery downtime.
How does sustainable facility management affect a building's value? Here, we need to mention that smart facility management has a very positive impact on the building's evaluation and helps to raise its investment value.
The benefits of implementing sustainable facility management practices
Implementing sustainable FM strategies brings numerous benefits to the company. Among the crucial ones are:
The way you manage your facility directly influences working conditions and, therefore, employees’ productivity. For example, the Study by Cornell University, suggests that when you have an AC temperature of 20-25ºC, the number of typos made by your employees is 44% fewer. Also, those who work in dry (less than 30% of humidity), or very humid (more than 60% of humidity) experience more stress.
Another study by Harvard University, proved that if you have poor ventilation, it will directly influence your workers’ cognitive functions and poor indoor air quality management (high level of CO2) affects productivity as well as people’s health.
Talent attraction and retention
As you already understood, smart facility management doesn’t only add to your sustainability goals but it also focuses on the well-being of your workers. If you have a good workplace with enough light, adequate ventilation, and temperature, the chances that your workforce will be off from work more often are much lower.
What is more, according to the review, if a person is satisfied with the workplace, they are 18% more likely to stay with you, and 30% more likely to like their company more than competitors.
And the cherry on the cake is the fact that 71% of employees prefer to work in companies that have sustainable facilities for a greener future, especially in a post-pandemic world.
Reduction of the company’s environmental footprint
This is probably one of the most obvious benefits of energy-saving techniques in facility management. As stated in the report, today’s buildings consume about 40% of the energy and 55% of the electricity from the total use.
Moreover, 30% of the energy used by the facilities has been wasted. Smart energy management systems can help companies get rid of astronomical bills as well as reduce their environmental footprint.
Extra savings for the company
Achieving corporate sustainability goals means getting fast financial benefits. Why so? Every year renewable energy becomes more affordable that fossil fuels. Just imagine, the cost you pay for electricity from solar power is now 89% cheaper than a decade ago, and from wind power — 70%. And this trend will remain in the future, too.
Higher attraction for investors
If you aim at attracting investors, sustainable FM and ESG compliance will help you out. IBM survey has proven that 48% of investors prefer companies that focus on reducing environmental impact in FM, while 21% of them are going to do this in the future.
Positive influence on the community
Did you know that green or intelligent buildings can reduce the temperature of the cities by up to 2°C? Moreover, it is proven that ⅓ of customers want to pay more and deal with companies that prioritize sustainability.
The role of custom IT solutions in supporting sustainable facility management
Today, digital technology is changing energy-efficient facility management for good. Especially, the Internet of Things (IoT) makes most systems within a facility more effective and allows the collection of real-time data that facility managers can use to predict challenges and get valuable insights.
Smart ESG facility management software helps collect data from numerous resources to monitor the company’s progress on sustainability goals and ESG standards.
Besides, ESG software helps companies to avoid any accusation of greenwashing, when businesses try to convince their audience that they are environmentally friendly although, in fact, they are not.
Many facility management solutions come with dashboards and robust reporting systems to help facility managers to visualize the data and organize it keeping in mind key performance metrics. Visualization helps them better understand how exactly all the resources are used, who uses them, and how various units within the organization are progressing in regard to sustainable goals.
What are some real-life examples of sustainable facility management?
There are numerous approaches for companies to become sustainable. While some of them can tackle some sustainability issues by just employing more efficient HVAC systems or smart lighting, others require deeper changes like reconstruction of the facility or installation of some renewable energy sources.
For example, Green Star certified buildings that are located in Australia have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by up to 62% with the help of smart facility management solutions, while those located in South Africa reduced energy consumption by up to 40%.
In the US, facilities that are certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or simply LEED certification) decreased the cost of their maintenance by 20% than ordinary conventional buildings.
The report by Stok states that reducing environmental impact in FM leads to a 3% rise in the overall productivity of your workforce, a 5% increase in workforce retention, and a 30% reduction in workers’ absenteeism. It also indicates a profit of more than $3K per employee and more than $18 per square foot. The overall return on investment is about 6,29% annually.
What is the future of sustainable facility management?
All the trends in FM service that we discussed in this article continue to advance each day with new technologies and tools appearing that will reshape ESG facility management.
Undoubtedly, commercial and corporate buildings consume much more energy than residential ones, so companies need to focus on becoming more environmentally conscious to achieve a greater impact on the planet and society.
Even with the available ESG tools and solutions on the market, facility owners can improve their daily operations and show ESG progress right away.
Want to know which IT solution can help you with your particular case of sustainable facility management? Get in touch with our expert to find out.