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Environment

The advantages of using smart technologies in commercial buildings

As the UK Government pledges to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the urge for sustainable buildings is stronger than ever.

According to the UK Green Building Council, an estimated 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint is attributed to the built environment, half of which comes from energy used in building. Heating alone created 10% of the country’s carbon footprint. 

Yet sustainability is still out of reach for many property owners and managers. Old buildings, small budgets, tenants’ varying needs – there are many factors that make it hard for a property manager to truly measure the sustainability of a building and to act upon any findings.

Considering this, Frankie Bryon, Sustainability Surveyor at LSH discusses why smart technology can help buildings improve on sustainability as well introduce other benefits that include promoting health and wellbeing and enable agile working…

Smart is sustainable
Firms’ sustainability strategies have been a major driver of the rollout of smart technology. By providing more efficient controls over energy usage, it can deliver significant reductions in energy consumption.

It is no coincidence that some of the smartest office buildings in the world are also rated by BREEAM as among the greenest. Smart systems allow lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation to be monitored and adjusted according to a building’s usage and occupation. Energy wastage can be minimised by turning off heating and lighting when an office is unoccupied. Intelligent building facades may also be used to control the heat and light entering the building in response to changing weather conditions.

The next generation of energy efficient smart buildings have their own sources of power generation and some are even able to generate more energy than they consume, with surplus energy going back to the grid.

Workplace wellbeing
Smart technology is increasingly recognised as having an important role to play in promoting health and wellbeing. It can help to create environments that support alert, energised workforce. 

Sensors can monitor air and water quality, light, temperature and noise levels. Issues known to affect workers’ concentration levels such as poor air quality or a lack of natural light can thus be detected and fixed.

More advanced smart office technology can also make use of data from wearable biometric devices monitoring the health and comfort of workers. In fact, research by Instant Offices shows 45% of the UK workforce would feel comfortable with sharing information via wearable devices for the purpose of protecting their health and wellbeing. 

Ambient conditions can be adjusted when workers show signs of discomfort, or an individual’s immediate working environment can be changed according to their personal preferences.

Work smarter

Sensors, smartphones or wearable devices may collect data monitoring environmental factors such as temperature, light, air quality and noise, as well as data on employees’ usage of the building.

The data collected can deliver building managers with actionable insights on how to improve a building’s performance, or it may feed through to automated systems controlling the office environment. With smart technology continually evolving, it is being used to support an increasingly wide range of applications, providing multiple benefits to building owners, investors, occupiers and employees.

Enabling agile working
Smart technology is providing occupiers with a better understanding of who uses the office at any given time, how they work and with whom they collaborate. These insights can enable increasingly agile, flexible working.

Some of the newest generation of smart buildings have fewer desks than workers. Instead, employees may reserve a workspace using an app, with a choice of spaces depending on whether they would prefer a collaborative workspace, private meeting area or a quiet space.

Smart systems may thus facilitate a move away from the convention of employees ‘owning’ a desk, which then goes unused for periods when they are out of the office. Flexible workspaces can be used more efficiently and may be continually adapted to changing employee demand and new work styles.

Improving workplace experiences
As well as enabling desk and room bookings, workplace apps can also be used to order food and drink, book gym sessions or reserve parking spaces. They may allow employees to control ambient settings, as well as providing new ways of connecting and collaborating with colleagues.

Workplace apps are thus developing as important interfaces between employees and office buildings, giving individuals greater control over their office experience. This will help to align the modern office with the expectations of a younger workforce for whom smart technology already plays an integral part of their lifestyles outside of work.

The benefits of being smart
Overall the advantages that smart offices offer are in terms of the following:

  • Sustainability
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Agile working 
  • Workplace experience

Smart offices also aid talent attraction and retention, by creating spaces in which people want to work, while appealing to workers’ environmental values. Modern, sustainable offices can help to reinforce a company’s brand values and define a progressive, forward-thinking corporate culture.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How to effectively deal with hazardous waste

If you company produces or stored hazardous waste, then it is your company’s responsibility to ensure it is stored and handled correctly.

Of course, if this type of waste is mishandled or poorly stored, it has the potential to damage both the environment and people. In particular, hazardous waste can contaminate surface water supplies and groundwater supplies, which in turn can lead to a much wider-reaching problem. 

It’s understandable then that the UK government has strict policies in place regarding the monitoring and transport of potentially harmful material.

This guide has been created to help you make sure your duty of care is being carried out correctly. 

Identifying different types of waste 

If you produce or store hazardous waste on-site, you must identify the waste type in order to correctly handle it. There are two main conditions that define different hazardous waste types — the potential to harm humans, or the potential to damage the environment. 

Some common examples of hazardous waste include asbestos, batteries, oils, brake fluid, printer toner, and pesticides. 

Of course, there are many other hazardous waste products that could be identified on your site. It is important to know the different types of hazardous waste your company creates, as they need storing separately. For example, if you are working on a construction site, you cannot throw hazardous material in the same standard 8 yard skip you have for general waste and rubble — each type of hazardous waste needs its own container. 

Safe storage for hazardous waste material 

Naturally, the best way to manage hazardous waste is to reduce the amount you are producing. But for some companies, hazardous waste products are an unavoidable part of the process for their industry. In this instance, the waste must be stored, recorded, then correctly transported. 

There are four main subcategories for hazardous waste: construction, demolition, industry, and agriculture. Each type should be separately stored in a container designed to stop anything escaping. To prevent contamination, make use of waterproof covers to avoid any run off from the waste. Be sure that the containers are clearly labelled so that everyone on-site is aware of what they are storing. 

A classified inventory of your hazardous waste stored on-site is also vital. These records will help in the case of an incident, as emergency services will be able to quickly attend to the problem armed with the right information. 

Record-keeping

Once your hazardous waste is collected, you will need to fill out a consignment note. This needs to be done before the waste is removed from your site. 

Consignment notes require the following information: 

  • A full description of each type of waste that is being collected. 
  • The amount, in applicable measurement units, of waste being collected. 
  • The chemical components of the waste. 
  • The form of the waste (solid, liquid, gas, etc.) 

You need to fill out a consignment note if the collection is from a business that is a registered waste carrier, or if the waste is being moved from one premises to another within the same company. You will also need a consignment note if another business has produced the waste on a customer site and it needs moving. 

You do not need a consignment note is the waste has been imported and is covered by other documentation, or for domestic hazardous waste (except asbestos). 

Finally, there is a fee to pay for the consignment note. In England and Wales, this fee is £10 for a collection, or £5 per note if it is part of a milk round of collections. In Scotland and Norther Ireland, the fee is £15. 

GUEST BLOG: Working towards sustainability in FM

By Biffa

The clearest definition of sustainability within the FM industry is the focus on long-term environmental goals during decision-making and a notion of total waste segregation, closed loop recycling, and working towards the circular economy.

Currently for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, there is little legislation requiring businesses to fully segregate and recycle waste, however much of UK businesses must comply with a simple ‘Duty of Care’ when it comes to disposing of business and commercial waste* and as such, waste is moving higher up the agenda in FM tenders.

The CSR and green credentials associated with effective waste management are strong, and many clients are increasingly driven by sustainability targets and are asking more of their FM professionals when it comes to providing the most carbon-efficient and environmentally positive solutions.

The best strategy that FM professionals can adopt is education, ensuring clients and all employees working on site, are fully aware of the recycling solutions available – this is applicable not only to internal recycling options, but also the transfer of waste and maximisation of external bin capacity in order to ensure operations are running as efficiently as possible.

This is where the opportunity to look at using new and innovative waste management solutions, tailored to a client’s individual needs, comes into play.

An informative approach must be taken when assessing the unique needs of a business, and Biffa is able to provide a bespoke on-site service, with dedicated contract managers available to be on hand to influence, enable and guide decisions on waste management for facilities.

These contract managers provide regular facility assessments face-to-face, offering cost cutting solutions and ways to streamline processes.

Workplace wellness ‘shifting up the boardroom agenda’…

A recent White Paper published by the world’s leading global real estate advisor, CBRE, has revealed the five key trends that are driving wellness in the workplace and pushing it higher up the corporate agenda.

From allowing ‘greater flexibility’ to managing stress levels, theWellness In The Workplace: Unlocking Future Performancereport claims these trends are producing a ‘seismic shift’ in the workplace. By the year 2040, the CBRE predicts the workplace will drastically change; characterised by autonomy and ‘greater choice’ for employees. Furthermore, technological and societal changes will shift the approach individuals and organisations will take regarding wellbeing, health and wellness becoming a priority.

 

Access the full report here