Reducing your carbon footprint in the FM sector

FM companies are introducing new initiatives to help manage client premises more sustainably, explains George Parish, HSEQ Director, at Grosvenor Services

Like many industries, the FM sector is striving to make more efficient use of resources and reduce waste. There are a growing number of initiatives that are being adopted by FM service providers to reduce their carbon footprint, while at the same time helping client organisations to cut costs, and build their reputations for corporate responsibility.

Setting the standard

International standards can be used as a framework to reduce environmental impact and to support the sustainability goals of FM clients. For example, the international energy management standard, ISO 50001, supports energy management practices that help organisations reduce energy consumption, cut costs and meet environmental requirements. The standard is a natural addition to ISO 14001, linked to reducing resource usage, waste and costs. Holding these type of certifications gives organisations the confidence that they have chosen a service provider which has achieved third party verification and the assurance that it has proven sustainability credentials.

Evaluate impacts

Naturally clients will have their own environmental targets and the facilities service provider should work with them to support their goals. A good starting point for any business is to identify the greatest impacts that it has on the environment such as vehicle emissions and electricity and gas usage. Through initiating activities like an energy audit, you can then look at practical ways to reduce the amount used and set out an action plan to improve your carbon footprint.

Conducting regular asset studies and assessing the cost and payback period of malfunctioning or poorly functioning equipment, will help you clearly see the upfront replacement cost and the projected savings which can result.

Acting as the eyes and ears

Another option is to get your FM partner acting as the ‘first line of defence’ in terms of reporting minor maintenance issues that may become major – if left unattended to. Having an onsite professional remedy the problem can help organisations avoid having to call out for expensive maintenance or even replacement solutions, with its attendant cost and travel-related impact on the environment. Similarly, if they are up to speed on your environmental policies and procedures, they can notify you of any energy wastage or actually take action themselves. This can be anything from putting unattended screens into sleep mode or turning off heating or air conditioning.

Fully equipped

FM service providers will often provide their own systems and equipment, which are typically more effective – and less costly to run – than equipment that might have come with the building, helping to reduce energy and maintenance costs.

Outsourcing to a facilities management company also means that expensive items of equipment need not be sourced for every site, but can be called on as and when required. This means that companies can avoid the prospect of having expensive equipment lie idle for long periods of time – with its consequent financial cost and the need to replicate that equipment for each individual site.

A reputable FM service partner will use products and equipment on a day-to-day basis that can contribute greatly to minimising an organisation’s carbon footprint, for example, using environmentally friendly cleaning products and microfibre cleaning cloths and mops. Products that are in powder form instead of liquid form can significantly reduce transport and delivery costs. As water is added to the super-concentrates at the point of use, the amount of product to be shipped and handled is greatly reduced. The environmental benefits are considerable, in terms of reduced packaging, carbon emissions and road miles.

Using fleets with low CO2 and fuel efficient cars and vans is another way that FM service providers can improve their environmental footprint.

Smart use of technology

Finally, advances in technology provide new ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Many companies are already starting to use dedicated systems to monitor and better manage their energy usage. Remote monitoring is another trend contributing to sustainable practices, resulting in a greater shift towards planned maintenance – and away from much more expensive emergency maintenance. Greater availability of data is enabling companies to develop systems of predictive maintenance that are super-smart and super-efficient.

What’s more, smart use of data generated by surveillance and other systems can be used to manage other facility services, like cleaning provision, more effectively; if a room isn’t used as much as others, it may not require the same regularity or intensity of cleaning.

So what’s stopping you?

There are not many procedures that are the same today as they were decades ago. Advancements in machinery, products and technologies mean that more environmentally friendly methods can be used in every business sector, whilst maintaining the highest standards of facilities management.

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