Written by Ankit Kapasi, CESMB, 2007
Ankit Kapasi, Deputy Head of Operations at the Centre for Environment and Safety Management for Business (CESMB), Middlesex University presents the case for making cost savings by better environmental management of buildings.How can facilities managers their company's environmental impacts and financial costs?
What will the new energy regulations require of facilities managers?
It will not have escaped the attention of any facilities manager that the environment is becoming an issue that cannot be ignored, either from a construction or an operational point of view. These environmental issues are tied in to the costs of running a business. Managers will have noticed that energy and waste disposal costs have gone up and in the near future, the costs of running and managing equipment within buildings will also go up.
Over the past few years a growing number of FM companies have started addressing environmental issues within their operations, and many more are being actively encouraged to do so by their clients. This is because, for many large companies, their key direct environmental impacts relate to the management of the issues relating to their buildings - although of course, FM can and does extend well beyond just buildings and utilities.
Consideration of the environmental impacts of a building is both a major issue now and will become increasingly important in the next few years both from a legal and financial perspective. Carrying out an initial assessment of the environmental impacts of a building is the first step to trying to reduce the costs related to these pressures.
For facilities managers there are two main aspects to consider when carrying out an assessment:
- Environmental impact of the building: This is the impact of the physical structure, which includes heat loss, ventilation, natural lighting, building design and orientation, etc.
- Environmental impact of activities carried out in the building: Depending on the nature of activities carried out by the business(es) based within the building, this will include resource consumption (raw materials, natural resources, energy, water etc.), waste generation, water and energy efficiency, air emissions, effluent discharges and such other issues. However, if there are independent businesses based within the buildings, the facilities manager may have limited control over some of their activities. The management will still have control on activities undertaken as part of managing a building which may include cooking, heating and lighting, water supply and toilets for the building, cleaning, maintaining any landscaping around the building and car parking.
Typically, a few common environmental issues for managed buildings can be:
EnergyThe use of energy in most building spaces is enormous. Lack of efficient controls and poor staff awareness is usually a problem. Poor design of buildings often leads to heat loss, which results in thousands of pounds of excess energy bills.
A large warehouse is North London had 30ft high ceilings causing severe heat loss (hot air rises up). This heat loss was minimised by installing false ceilings, drastically reducing their energy bills by a staggering 41 per cent.
Did you know?
A recent study reveals that the City of London wastes £17 million a year and produces 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in doing so by not turning off the lights in empty offices.
New energy regulations will also require facilities managers to update themselves with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Building regulations part L, the new climate change bill in 2007, the planning rules PPS22, the drive towards CHP and micro generation, renewables and the move to having an energy label on all buildings are some of the regulations that will affect the facilities manager.
In the near future, new regulations will require facilities managers to carry out energy surveys, place energy certificates on their building portfolio and keep energy logbooks.
WasteMany facilities managers are responsible for managing the waste generated by businesses within the building. The Duty of Care requires the management company to ensure safe storage, handling and disposal of waste generated on the premises.
Depending on the nature of activities within the building, the following issues should be addressed under waste management:
- Discharge to drains;
- Disposal of chemical waste;
- Disposal of clinical waste;
- Disposal of redundant IT equipment;
- Disposal of waste fluorescent tubes;
- Disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipments (WEEE).
A good facilities manager can reduce the FM company's environmental impacts and financial costs by operating as high up the hierarchy as possible. When looking at options for recycling, facilities managers should make provisions for segregation and storage of different materials. Leasing or buying a baler can help create more storage space for recyclables, reduce the frequency of collections and possibly make financial savings.
WaterWhen water is used, it will get contaminated to a greater or lesser extent. The contamination may be from chemicals, increased water temperature or from suspended solid particles in the waste water stream. If any business activity in a managed building causes water contamination, the business or the management company should check if a Trade Effluent Discharge Consent is required from the Environment Agency.
With the UK facing threat of droughts nearly every year, it is very important to use water very carefully. In large buildings, there is usually a fairly high use of water in kitchens and toilets and for cleaning and maintenance. Modern toilets are fitted with water efficient flushes. For older cisterns, installing Save-a-Flush can help save 1 litre of water every time it is flushed. In addition, regular monitoring of water bills may help detect a water leak.
Air qualityIf a business activity within a building generates any toxic gases that can harm human health or the environment, the FM company should notify the Environment Agency who can provide advice on compliance and good practice.
Storage and handling of materialsBuilding management can require the storage of a number of different fuels and chemicals. The law requires all these to be stored and handled in an appropriate manner.
Cleaning and maintenanceThis is a key activity carried out by most FM companies. Facilities manager can use the following yes/no checklist to identify the environmental impacts:
- Cleaning material with minimum environmental impact;
- Reusable containers of cleaning materials;
- Bulk purchasing of cleaning materials;
- Safe storage and handling of cleaning materials;
- Use of dust reduction techniques in cleaning.
A thorough environmental assessment of a building and the activities within can help a facilities manager identify various environmental issues and check the requirements for legal compliance. It can also help identify cost savings by implementing better environmental practices within the building.
An FM company based in London (230 employees) had not taken any environmental issues into consideration. On carrying out an audit, the company prepared an environmental action plan which included
- Replacing disposable plastic glasses with ceramic mugs (estimated annual savings: £1,300);
- Reusing paper in their offices for preparing draft working pads (estimated annual savings: £2,300);
- Drafting a transport plan to ensure better time and journey management (estimated annual savings: £4,800)
- Raising staff awareness on energy and water use - using posters and stickers (estimated annual savings: £1,500)
- Implementing better energy management measures: installing separate switches for different parts of the buildings (Estimated annual savings: £2,600).
As highlighted earlier, a number of businesses (often small and medium-sized) are based in rented or managed buildings. Where this is the case, there is the potential for both facilities mangers and the businesses to work together to gain significant financial and environmental benefits from better management of the facility. Better environmental management of buildings can have many benefits for the FM company, the tenants and the environment.
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