How the UN’s 2050 Target for a Greener World Could Help Facilities Management Save the Planet as well as Spend
Net-zero and facilities management are central to conversation of decarbonisation, however there is something also to be said for costs…
Since the UN’s 2015 Paris Agreement, 192 countries plus the EU have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. As a critical CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) target, and UK legal requirement, the pressure is on to go green.
For facilities management, it’s an especially critical task. According to the UK Green Buildings Council, the built environment is responsible for 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. This makes the industry as a whole key in decarbonisation.
Compliance and social responsibility aren’t the only incentives for going carbon neutral, however. There’s also the huge potential for significant savings. Whether it’s increased asset lifecycles, renewable energy or waste reduction, FM companies across the world are re-strategising. And in helping save the planet, they’re saving big on CapEx too.
Facilities Management Net-Zero Strategy
With buildings at its core, facilities management are tasked with reconfiguring from the top down and getting that 40% down to zero by 2050.
Updated technology is often a key starting point. This comes in the form of anything from lighting sensors, smart heating systems or IoT (Internet of Things). However, in order to truly make an impact, facility needs must be clearly identified and addressed strategically with measured results.
The Local Government Association advise that “Carbon reductions should be evidenced through an independent and verifiable process” with “independently assured and audited reports”. This means replacing guesswork and bias with solid data. With this companies can monitor outcomes with full visibility, and ensure they are making sufficient traction towards net-zero.
Transport Emissions in Facilities Management
One area for improvement that several FM companies have identified is transportation. Though it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing FM, it produced 27% of the UK’s total emissions in 2019 and is an unavoidable part of facility maintenance.
This is something that Mitie cited as their biggest source of emissions in 2018, coming in at 90%. For that reason, they’re tackling the issue head-on. They’ve pledged to make 100% of their company fleet carbon neutral with EVs (Electric Vehicles), even aiming to reach net-zero early by 2025. And with no fuel costs, widening availability of free UK charging points and road tax exemption, they’re cutting costs too.
Clean Energy and Tackling HVAC Systems Sustainably
Clean energy is also something which FM companies are increasingly switching to. Building energy consumption is a key issue to tackle as too many HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning & Ventilation) systems remain powered by fossil fuels.
Subject to legal regulations, sustainability for HVAC systems must be balanced with compliance as well as costs. According to UK law, workplace temperatures must remain ‘reasonable’ (with general guidance being a minimum of 16°C or 13°C if physical work is involved). For this reason, it’s vital that any clean energy choice can deliver the efficiency required for clients to remain compliant.
However, if done right, FM companies can leave behind fossil fuels behind— and their high price tags too. According to IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), newly installed renewable power capacity costs less than the cheapest fossil fuel option. It’s yet another critical opportunity to cut both carbon emissions and costs in one.
Much of this again comes down to upgraded technologies, which also opens up the conversation about preserving asset lifecycles and responsible recycling/EOL (End-of-Life) disposal. However, it all comes back to strategy and data. When all necessary components are measured and monitored, FM companies can successfully offset their carbon emissions and run efficiently on lower spend.
A Greener and More Cost Effective Future
In many cases facilities management and net-zero has seen sustainability and cost reduction conveniently submerge. Clients rely on FM companies to deliver quality results on budget, and in decarbonising, monetary savings, as well as net-zero compliance, can be secured with high efficiency.
With the industry now establishing greener processes, customer/stakeholder demands can be more accurately met, as sustainability is increasingly prioritised in light of the 2050 target. With this, facilities management can prepare for future sustainability demands as we move closer towards 2050, and in adapting processes, move forwards with success.