A recent McKinsey report estimated that real estate drives approximately 39 per cent of total global emissions. Approximately 11 per cent of these emissions are generated by manufacturing materials used in buildings (including steel and cement), while the rest is emitted from buildings themselves.
In this context, the urgency to address climate change and meet ambitious emission reduction goals by 2030 requires a strategic, collaborative effort across industries. Facility management emerges as a linchpin in this endeavour, orchestrating a comprehensive approach to reshape the landscape of sustainable energy use within organizations.
Implementation of cutting-edge technology: Significant reductions in emissions associated with real estate can be achieved through technologies that already exist. For example, upgrading to more energy-efficient lighting systems and installing better insulation have positive financial returns. Today, newer technologies also make low-carbon heating and cooling systems, such as heat pumps and energy-efficient air conditioning, more cost-competitive in many markets and climates. These cost-effective upgrades can create meaningful change while also de-risking assets.
Many opportunities are available for a facility manager to achieve energy reduction or transition to green energy and mitigate emissions. Some of the known measures include – Energy Efficiency Improvements by assessing current energy consumption within buildings and facilities, identifying areas of inefficiency, and implementing energy-saving measures. Upgrading energy-efficient lighting, HVAC systems, and insulation to reduce energy waste. Regular maintenance and monitoring of equipment and systems can ensure they operate at their peak efficiency, reducing energy consumption and emissions.
Renewable Energy Adoption: Among the rapidly expanding sectors, renewable energy stands out, and facility managers can actively engage in harnessing and integrating renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal heating and cooling systems directly on-site. This strategic adoption of renewable sources presents a substantial opportunity to curtail the facility’s carbon footprint. Additionally, exploring the option of procuring renewable energy from external sources through power purchase agreements (PPAs) provides an alternative avenue to diminish dependence on fossil fuels.
Sustainable Building Design and Retrofits: Facility managers actively contribute to the planning and construction of energy-efficient, eco-friendly structures that not only meet but often surpass energy efficiency benchmarks. This involvement encompasses the selection of environmentally sustainable materials and the strategic optimization of building layouts to enhance natural lighting and ventilation.
Moreover, the retrofitting of existing structures with energy-efficient technologies and sustainable features, overseen by facility managers, can result in noteworthy reductions in both energy consumption and emissions. The pivotal role of facility managers extends to shaping sustainable building designs, where considerations range from the choice of eco-friendly materials to meticulous spatial planning for enhanced energy efficiency.
These decisions significantly influence the overall carbon footprint of a facility. Concurrently, the implementation of waste reduction strategies within facilities, such as the establishment of recycling programs and the adoption of responsible disposal practices, underscores the unwavering commitment of facility managers to fostering environmentally conscious spaces.
Smart Building Technologies: The integration of smart building technologies, such as advanced energy management systems and IoT sensors, allows facility managers to monitor and control energy usage in real-time. This enables quick adjustments to optimise energy consumption.
Proactive Maintenance for Asset Lifecycle Extension: Through vigilant monitoring and upkeep of assets, facility managers prolong their lifecycles, mitigating the necessity for premature replacements. This method not only guarantees peak performance but also harmonizes with overarching sustainability objectives by diminishing the environmental repercussions linked to the production and disposal of new assets. Implementing predictive maintenance, informed by data derived from advanced technologies, serves to avert energy-wasting breakdowns, and further contributes to emissions reduction.
Behaviour Change and Employee Engagement: Facility managers can engage building occupants in sustainability efforts through education and awareness campaigns. Encouraging energy-saving practices and a culture of sustainability can lead to significant energy reductions. Implementing occupancy sensors automated lighting and climate control can also help reduce energy consumption when spaces are unoccupied.
Carbon Accounting and Reporting: Facility management can monitor and disclose carbon emissions resulting from their operations. By comprehending their carbon footprint, they can establish reduction targets and formulate strategies to attain them. Consistent reporting and transparency not only showcase a dedication to sustainability but also assist organizations in fulfilling regulatory mandates and meeting the expectations of investors.
As we navigate the path towards a sustainable future, organizations are urged to prioritize and invest in facility management practices that align with emissions reduction goals. By doing so, they not only contribute to global environmental initiatives but also ensure a resilient and sustainable future for generations to come. Embracing these principles positions organizations at the forefront of the global movement towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible tomorrow.