It has become very evident that man is chief among the contributors to global warming and climate change. It is also true that a significant proportion of emissions can be traced back to corporations or business buildings. As it happens, research suggests that the service industry adversely impacts the environment more than the manufacturing industry, due to its high consumption of energy. Fueled by concerns about climate change and rising energy costs, green ideas continue to gain momentum throughout the world and reducing the environmental impact of commercial buildings is a key focus now.
This post is about how the use of a comprehensive Facilities Management Solution can help in making buildings environmentally sound.
What are Green Buildings?
Green buildings are structures that have reduced adverse environmental impacts as compared to conventional buildings. Green Buildings are made keeping the environment’s sustainable future in mind. Some people misconstrue that Green Buildings only refers to the conservation of energy within a building, whereas it includes various other factors such as utilization of resources, optimization of space, waste management, recycling of products, minimization of pollution, improvement of air quality, etc. Also, being Green is a practice that continues for the full life cycle of the building and not just its initial stages of design and construction.
Green Buildings are evaluated on three factors- social, economic, and environmental development of the building. Many organizations follow different standards or indicators to check their Green Building ratings. British BREEAM and the U.S. based LEED, are a couple of well-known global indicator systems.
FM SOLUTION and how its strategies can help organizations achieve sustainability
Not all organizations choose to fully commit to the maximum levels of Green Buildings. Ground realities such as budget constraints, mixed opinion among the management on the subject of Green Buildings, busy schedules, and other priorities all intervene. This is where the role of the facilities management comes in. The Facility Management Solution can help drive and establish the organization’s Green Building initiative based on available budgets and resources.
In some ways, the primary Green Building challenge is not the investment but the mental commitment to the cause of environmental sustainability. Once, an organization is fully committed mentally, then through the FM Solution, the creation of a Green Building can be achieved. Here are some ways in which the FM Solution helps organizations achieve environmental sustainability through energy saving, optimization of space and resources, and waste reduction, etc.
A good FM Solution will allow organizations to manage their energy consumption better. The intelligent design of windows and operation of blinds etc. can help to maximize the utilization of the natural light. The systems can help to reconfigure the floor plan in such a way that the greatest number of people in the office have access to daylight for the maximum amount of time. The goal is to set up a healthier office environment where the most amount of people can enjoy daylight while working.
Lights, ACs, and other systems can be optimally utilized with the FM Solution. Automation can help to turn electrical systems on and off based on intelligence codified into the systems. Varying parameters like seasonal factors, occupancy patterns, safety requirements etc. can all come together to drive these intelligent decisions. Data collected over time can provide insights into ongoing optimization of energy usage. All this helps to make energy usage much more efficient.
Another simple strategy that the FM Solution can help drive is the use of smarter equipment. The use of low-flow water fixtures and energy-efficient LED lighting are such examples of smarter equipment that have a reduced environmental impact.
The FM Solution can also help organizations in strategizing and adopting environmentally conscious alternatives like rainwater harvesting and solar power. The FM Solution can provide the data required to use their building’s roof in the most efficient way possible for such systems.
Ongoing operations and maintenance
The FM Solution offers these organizations the chance to proactively maintain the building and the other equipment that keeps the building going. This makes the equipment more energy-efficient and hence more environmentally-friendly.
Intelligent utilization of space can also come into the picture. Planning to use the available space optimally can help organizations get the most out of their current space inventory. In the medium, to long term, this can help them reduce the need for creating more space and lower the environmental consequences of doing so.
Then there is waste management. An FM Solution-driven intelligence can help organizations optimize waste collection and disposal schedules based on insights about the waste being generated. This data can also be mined to put into place plans that can reduce the amount of waste being generated.
Environmentally sustainable products
It’s important to choose environmentally sound materials for your buildings –at the start as well as over the lifetime of work operations. Here, the structure and central planning capabilities of the FM Solution helps organizations in selecting and standardizing the right materials. The organizations need to be cautious of “greenwashing”-the misinterpretation of some materials or products that appear greener than they actually are, as environmentally sound products. The FM Solution helps managers in identifying such materials and in codifying the curtailment of their usage.
Simple changes in policy can also help organizations promote a sustainable environment. Some examples of such policy changes are using locally available materials to reduce the carbon footprint of material delivery, using biodegradable utensils in cafeterias, banning of paper-mail, and mandating carpooling. An FM Solution can help to implement and monitor the impact of such policies.
More and more organizations are thinking of going green, but many aren’t yet putting their thoughts into practice. So, the next step is to fully commit to the sustainable environment and to use a comprehensive FM Solution to reach the desired environmental goals. Onwards to a sustainable future –with some help from your Facilities Management Solution.