How does energy efficiency fit into the role of an FM?

Energy efficiency and the need to reduce our carbon emissions is an area of debate which has slowly been gathering momentum over recent years. This, coupled with the fact that experts are predicting that energy prices are to double over the next five years has placed an added impetus on a need for us all to reduce emissions in everyday life.

In recent years we have seen particular attention placed on making the workplace more environmentally friendly with the Cooperative Group’s new head office in Manchester leading the way by being declared the most environmentally-friendly building in the world after receiving the highest sustainability score ever awarded. It is however granted that not all changes need to be as drastic as those made by the Cooperative Group, and some changes simply aren’t achievable given the age of certain properties.

The facilities management industry is one which as a collective has the potential to make a noticeable change given that roughly one in ten is employed within the industry nationwide. However, those employed in facilities management jobs aren’t all Building Engineers and simply may not have energy efficiency on their radar. They are often more concerned with issues such as internal space allocation, internal security and client relations.

Some larger leading organisations have tried to do energy audits in order to pinpoint exactly where their larger losses are and can therefore target areas of improvement. However, sometimes it isn’t necessary to make drastic changes and it is sometimes the smaller, cheap solutions which prove the most effective. Actions as simple as switching off and unplugging electronic equipment at the end of each day or fitting motion sensors on lights to avoid unnecessary usage can both cut down costs, whilst one area which everyone has been guilty of at one point or another is the unnecessary opening of windows. Opening windows needlessly causes heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units to work harder which in turn has a detrimental effect on energy consumption.

Reducing energy consumption through increasing overall efficiency is good for business. It can reduce energy bills and therefore improve a business’ performance financially whilst creating a smaller carbon footprint, and ultimately promoting a more positive picture to their customers. At the end of 2013 the government released figures stating that there had been a 14% reduction in greenhouse emissions compared to the 2009-2010 base line which has shown a small step in the right direction.

From a recruitment perspective are we about to see a shift in the requirements needed to carry out FM jobs with the need for companies to become more environmentally friendly being ever apparent? This being said, it has been predicted that organisations will look into the introduction of specialist Energy Managers to manage their energy consumption in line with the targets that will soon be forced upon them from government and the EC. The more likely solution across the industry is that a solid knowledge of energy and sustainability is likely to become an important part of a future Facilities Managers job description.

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