How to keep a sustainable building green text over image

How to keep a sustainable building green!

You may think that by operating in a sustainable building, your business has met its obligations in terms of helping to create a greener environment and that you can sit back and let the building operations in a sustainable way.

This is not the case. A sustainable building and business will require continuous attention to ensure it remains sustainable today, tomorrow and into the future.

Constructing or renovating a building to obtain the green building certificate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the first phase of becoming an environmentally friendly business. The next phase will require the monitoring of the business to ensure it continues to meet such standards.

This could entail monitoring waste levels to ensure it remains below a previously specified level. However, previously set targets can also be improved upon. The continuous monitoring of waste could help to identify areas where changes could be made that could increase recycling, which would decrease landfill waste and in turn lead to cost-savings, meaning both the business and the environment would come out as winners.

By monitoring and attempting to increase the company’s use of recyclable materials, more of the company’s waste could be found to be suitable for recycling.

From the outset, the business will need to identify how best to measure its operations, which would become a baseline and help to flag up any problems in maintaining its sustainability levels. It would also help to measure the success of any changes that are made with a view to improving the company’s sustainability.

A facilities manager (FM), who may be in charge of one building or multiple buildings, will need to deploy software to monitor the performance of operations in various locations. Some companies provide benchmark tools which can be utilised to measure the consumption of water, energy and greenhouse gas emissions from a single facility or a group of buildings.

This can be useful in determining whether there are some aspects of a company’s operations that need more attention, in terms of meeting sustainability targets, than others. This will allow the company to place its resources and attention where it is needed the most.

Some software companies monitor consumption levels and deliver the results on a 12-month average basis, while other companies can measure the performance of a company’s sustainability credentials on a day-to-day basis, which could help the business keep on top of issues as they arise and allow it to more easily pinpoint areas that need extra attention.

As well as using the latest software to help your business maintain its environmentally-friendly operations, a physical inspection of the facilities is crucial. Night audits are particularly useful. A simple walk through an empty building could identify machinery and equipment that continues to run overnight.

FM staff could then highlight areas of concern and review whether such equipment needs to run overnight or during the company’s downtime. By adjusting processes to reduce the amount of equipment that continues to run when a building is empty, efficiency could be increased by up to 20%.


People running up a trend arrow

Every FM manager should know these trends

There are a number of trends set to change the FM and services industry. By identifying changes that will impact the sector, managers can plan for, and even benefit from, future shifts in society and in how we do business.

Economic Growth
The shift in economic growth from the west to emerging markets in the east means industry players must do more to set themselves apart in what will become a crowded market with new competition. Multinational companies should ensure their products can be tailored to a variety of local markets, so they can capitalise on growth in areas with differing cultures.

Commercialisation
Trends in commercialisation will lead to greater competition and innovation, with industry players needing to ensure their customers stay relevant. It will be essential that managers understand key business indicators and how they can help customers achieve optimised performance. Two examples of this would be to use lean management techniques that cut needless processes or the data-driven six sigma method, which seeks to enhance customer satisfaction with continuous process improvements and low defect rates.

Ageing Population
An ageing population coupled with diminishing pension incomes are leading to an increasing number of people working until later in life, which is changing the workplace. When it comes to hiring and retaining staff, the FM industry will need to gain an understanding of the motivation that drives its staff, which will differ widely from generation to generation.

Furthermore, with a four-generation workforce set to become commonplace in European, American, Japanese and Chinese workplaces, recruiters will need to recognise the differences between these generations, along with the challenges and opportunities that this trend will present.

Technological Progression
Advances in technology, including smart security, robotics and sensors, will affect jobs, leading to reduced demand for low-skilled workers, while increasing demand for skilled staff.

Climate Change
Climate change will force most industries and societies to become greener, which could impact on supply chains and the design, maintenance and management of buildings in the future. However, climate change and the urbanisation of mid to low-income countries in regions prone to natural disasters will bring new risk to the industry, which must ensure it is adequately prepared for such an event. This could be by having robust contingency and continuity plans in place.

Health
Meanwhile, the growing focus on human health will lead to the redesign of buildings to encourage staff to be more active and to stave off lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes. This trend is notable for the industry, as almost a third of Europe’s FM revenue comes from the healthcare sector, but budget cuts could result in governments outsourcing more work.

Flexibility At Work
Lastly, the traditional workplace is changing, with companies of all sizes shifting to models that promote flexible, collaborative, innovative and productive work. This is demonstrated by the growth of coworking environments, homeworking and flexible working options that have become common across the world.

This trend can be used to help retain and recruit staff. A company can be more appealing for prospective workers by offering flexible working options. Flexible working will require managers to use online facility booking and management tools.

Trends that could impact the industry are wide-ranging, but the common factor here is preparedness, which could make the difference between success and failure.