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Sustainability

Sustainability Pays: How to take care of the planet and your profits

Being good to the environment is great for your business finances.

Taking control of your own energy needs – using onsite generation and storage – can reduce costs and cut carbon emissions. It will also protect your business from energy supply disruption.    

Download our research report to discover the 4 steps you can take to accelerate your energy sustainability and improve your profits.  

FREE REPORT: Why sustainability is good for business

Sustainable businesses see energy as an opportunity, not a financial burden.

They’re exploiting distributed energy technologies, such as onsite generation and storage, to cut costs and carbon emissions. This also increases operational resilience and enhances reputation.  

Download our research report to see the 4 steps you can take to accelerate your energy sustainability and improve your business performance.

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

Gen Zs and Millennials have high expectations of employer sustainability efforts

A survey by BRITA Professional of 1,000 Generation Zs and Millennials has revealed what they expect from employers when it comes to sustainable buildings and working practices. 

As reported by Tomorrow’s FM, the research indicates that 86 per cent would stay at a company longer if it reported how it was lowering its impact on the environment to staff. 

The research, published in BRITA’s ‘Life Is Better Filtered: Corporate School of Expertise’, report also included the top three CSR objectives that matter to both generations, with 46 per cent opting for environmentally-friendly buildings, 45 per cent admitting that health and wellbeing support, including mental health support made a difference and 36 per cent looking for charity partnerships to get involved with.

Design elements included quiet zones (52 per cent), hydration stations (31 per cent) and comfy seating areas (31 per cent).

Flexible working hours and locations were also a priority (50 per cent) along with honesty (46 per cent) and personal development investment and progression (44 per cent).

Discussing the findings, Sarah Taylor, MD of BRITA UK said: “Our research shows that Generation Z and Millennials are a force for change. They believe in living a more sustainable life and their day to day decisions will likely reflect this. It’s now up to businesses to reflect these expectations in the workplace. Get this right and you will be rewarded with a loyal, talented and productive workforce.”

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.

Guest Blog, Liz Allen – The Circular Economy: Re-thinking waste…

We have become used to the idea of recycling.  We do it at home, and more businesses are recognising the financial benefits of waste segregation and recycling in the workplace.  But is this enough? What ‘matchmaking’ could you do for your business waste? Could your unwanted waste material be just what someone else needs?

Each time a material is recycled, its quality is generally reduced leading to a higher demand for virgin raw material.  According to Friends of the Earth, humans today extract and use around 50 per cent more natural resources than 30 years ago – that’s about 60 billion tonnes a year.  If we continue in the same way, the amount could be 100 billion tonnes of raw material by 2030. It’s not just the environmental problems associated with resource extraction, there are often social problems such as human rights violations and poor working conditions linked with these industries which we should be taking into account.

There is nothing wrong with recycling, and we should all keep up the good practice while looking out for opportunities to think a bit wider and add an extra loop into a products’ life cycle.  The challenge is to move away from the ‘take-make-dispose’ linear route, and move to a circular model where the life of products and materials are extended before they are repurposed, reused or reprocessed to provide new or different services.

The beauty of a ‘circular approach’ is that it can be tackled at any point of the value chain – anywhere from extraction of raw materials, design and manufacture, through to use and disposal. This affects everyone and is providing the inspiration for all kinds of new business models which appeal to the millennials, who are less materialistically-minded, and environmentalists alike.

All kinds of organisations are piloting new business models to try and rethink waste.  These range from product leasing – where you hand it back for someone else to use, to improving product performance by building in upgradability, through to remanufacturing.  All these approaches try to keep the original material in use for as long as possible to get the best out of it before recovering or regenerating products and materials at the end of their useful life.

Organisations such as WRAP and the Dame Ellen MacArthur Foundation are championing approaches to support innovative business models.  These are popping up all over the place including a company in Holland called Mud Jeans which lets you lease a pair of jeans for a year. After that, you can return them for repair, get a different style or purchase them. St Albans based office furniture specialist, JPA will collect, repair and refresh your office furniture, rather than it going to landfill, while businesses in the FMCG market are looking at ways to redesign products so they can minimise the use of virgin material.

We are great at accumulating ‘stuff’, and apparently up to 80 per cent of the products made are thrown away within the first six months. As a society, we have gotten used to wanting the latest trend and another bit of kit, but this cannot be sustainable? All these products have used other materials to make them and there is not an inexhaustible supply.  Think about the opportunities; we are happy to download music and no longer own CD’s, therefore eliminating (or at least significantly reducing) the production of plastic discs.  So what else could we do?

 

Liz Allen is an environmental consultant at Hosking Associates Ltd, and has many years’ experience working with diverse businesses to translate environmental issues into practical actions. She helps organisations prioritise risks and opportunities to reduce costs, and manage compliance. Liz is a chartered environmentalist with experience in designing and delivering CSR, sustainability and stakeholder engagement programmes.

Top 5 global FM suppliers revealed by Technavio…

Basing its findings on key factors such as ROI, sustainability, customer satisfaction, floor occupancy rate, pareto analysis and consistent performance measurement framework, a new report deriving from the global technology research and advisory company, Technavio, has affirmed the top 5 performing global facilities management suppliers up until the year 2020.

The report acknowledges that the FM market is dominated by large ‘global players’ as a majority of supplier companies are getting involved with mergers and acquisitions to achieve maximum international reach; in addition to enhancing their service capabilities. Therefore, it has been suggested that organisations prefer to outsource their FM services and the suppliers are developing environmental management plans to adhere to the industry’s regional and global regulations.

In order, the top 5 global FM suppliers are:

  1. Sodexo: Provides facility management and food services across different industries worldwide. The company serves more than 75 million people every day. It provides more than 234 services for the benefit of clients’ employees. In March 2016, Sodexo was awarded a 10-year contract by Rio Tinto to deliver facility management services for its operations in Australia. 
  2. Compass Group: A global leader in food services and FM support services. K-12 (part of the Compass Group) serves more than two million students every day in the US alone. Approximately, one-third of the top business schools in Europe are served by the company, and the Compass Service Framework was designed by the company to enhance their service capabilities and provide high-quality service to customers. 
  3. Aramark: Currently maintains approximately 1 billion square feet of facilities across multiple industries worldwide. It owns over one million square feet of meeting space globally. The company manages over 45 unique world-class residential and day centers across the US and Canada. In April 2016, Aramark won Citi’s Sustainable Partner Award in recognition of the high-value services provided to the Citi Group. 
  4. ISS A/S: Generates three million work orders on an annual basis. Annually, the company serves 13,809,467 square metres of office and industrial space globally. It caters to a large and diversified portfolio of B2B customers across industry sectors. The company performs 30 billion square meter of cleaning activities globally.
  1. CBRE: One of the largest FM service providers across the globe with a total workforce of 25,000 EFMs and 13,000+ engineering professionals. It caters to a client base of 25.8 million occupants and tenants in the global commercial real estate market. The company employs 300+ HSSE professionals, 40+ OSHA, and 501 trainers for health and safety as well as environmental management.

 

To request a sample report, click here

BBP launches sustainable property management publication…

In a bid to develop a more ‘consistent’ approach to sustainable practices, members of the BBP Managing Agents Partnership have come together to produce a practical document of sustainability provisions, setting out to ‘form the foundation’ of how sustainability is incorporated into any property management service offering.

The Integrating Sustainability into Property Management Services: Core Provisionsaims to provide clear and concise information on core strategies that should be undertaken by all property management agents in their offerings to clients; as well as detailing how agents can proactively introduce these activities into their daily schedules.
Download the publication here

Industry Spotlight: Why sustainable business practices can be quantifiable…

The CEO of EMCOR UK, Keith Chanter, discusses the company’s committed and successful approach to working with customers in identifying and implementing sustainable business practices, resulting in measured and quantifiable outcomes…

Sustainable business practices contribute to our customers’ success — as well as ours — and can minimise or reduce the impact of operations on the environment. ‘EMCOR EnergyWise’, a bespoke energy model, aims to significantly, and cost effectively, reduce a customer’s energy use and carbon emissions by deploying industry leading knowledge and experience. EMCOR UK ensures collaboration with relevant occupants of the buildings we service when implementing the model, and achieving buy-in from all involved also helps maintain momentum, longevity and maximum efficiencies.

The priority of energy efficiency and supporting customers’ requirements, accordingly, forms an integral part of everyone’s role within EMCOR UK, spanning wider than the company’s core energy team. For example, for one of our real estate customers, we rolled out the ‘one team approach’ and, in doing so, we identified our company’s champions on each of their sites who were responsible for capturing ideas for savings from across the client’s operations. In the first year, this resulted in 89 identified and costed energy saving initiatives all aligned with the customer’s energy reduction strategy. This resulted in potential savings of 1,359 MWh and 4,000 tonnes of CO2.

Alongside energy saving techniques, EMCOR UK is also committed to innovation; we recognise and reward employees to innovate for customers. Recently, an employee developed a retro fitted system that revolutionises mandatory weekly testing of automatic fire sprinklers, saving customers water and money. The device simulates the flow of one sprinkler head in operation, thereby only discharging 25 litres of water versus 8,000 (max.) litres without the system, resulting in an annual saving of approximately 400,000 litres of water per sprinkler valve set. We also provide ‘energy roadshows’, designed to inform and engage all building occupants, communicating our customers’ objectives in a compelling and interactive way.

In addition, our Surbiton based office has recently been awarded the Fairplace Award, an ethical workplace accreditation by the Ethical Property Foundation which covers a wide range of indicators including; sustainability, employee health, well-being, and welfare.

EMCOR UK has taken a leadership approach in the development of a multi-faceted education programme and is a founding member of the Facilities Management Sustainability School, a unique collaboration to develop sustainability competence in the supply chain. As a founding member, we’re seeking to share and advocate best practice in this arena.

The practises we implement in our day-to-day work make good commercial sense because they enhance our customers’ success whilst reducing the impact on the environment. A recent survey carried out by BIFM of facilities management professionals revealed a 20 per cent decrease among businesses in how effective they perceive their organisation to be at executing sustainability policies compared to 2014. This would indicate that there is a need to implement further energy efficiency and sustainability measures across the facilities management industry.

 

EMCOR UK provides facilities management and specialist support services for a diverse range of private and public sector organisations. For further information on EMCOR UK, please visit www.emcoruk.com or telephone 0845 600 2300.

 

Industry Spotlight: FM managers will enter water contracts ‘with confidence’…

In regards to utilities, water is often considered to be the ‘poor relation’ to gas and electricity, as described by the leading specialist water management company, Waterscan. The moderately low cost of water supply and waste water management – coupled with an inflexible marketplace – has led to it being somewhat misunderstood. However, with relatively recent developments and industry analysis, this is expected to change one year from now.

Although the Water Bill was passed over two years ago in May 2014, it is expected that it is set to ‘revolutionise’ the water market landscape in the UK for the foreseeable future. It provides all commercial and other non-household water users the opportunity for the first time to switch suppliers, negotiate contracts in terms of price and service level, and is hoped to result in improved customer service levels. For bigger, multi-site organisations, the move could also potentially reduce administration due to a ‘cohesive, consolidated’ approach to billing.

OFWAT has cited climate change leading to more droughts and floods, increasing environmental standards and a fast growing population as key drivers for this initiative. The focus is all on water efficiency and this is sorely needed as significant risks to water availability have been reported. According to the Water Resources Group, the global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40 per cent by the year 2030.

Making less water go further will not only help to make the supply chain more resilient to future demands, but it can also help to reduce bill costs. As the director of Waterscan, Claire Yeates, explains: “The open water market comes into force in April 2017 and that seems a long way off, but negotiations with water suppliers is scheduled to commence in October 2016 – less than 12 months from now. In order for UK businesses to get the best deal, we cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared – and that preparation needs to start now.”

She continues: “We are encouraging companies to collate 12 months’ good quality water data and to get under the skin of their water consumption. Knowing the detail behind your bills – how much water you use, where and when – will empower facilities managers to enter negotiations with confidence and structure their water contracts in the most profitable and environmentally sustainable way. These are the companies that will see the greatest benefits from the market reform.”

Waterscan suggests that the problem is that much of this information is buried in what could be as many as 27 different water contracts if you’re a multi-site operation, and all water companies have different ‘charging mechanisms’ making accurate price comparisons ‘difficult at best’.

As a company, Waterscan provides a variety of consultancy services including a free and detailed ‘Water Check’ service which helps clients fully understand their current operational water footprint and importantly, to put it into context by benchmarking against industry norms. With minimal input required from clients, this exercise helps Waterscan to take swift action to address any inefficiencies and correct billing errors, which often results in tens of thousands of pounds saved.