How Sustainable Facilities Management Helps Companies Go Green

by Elizabeth Dukes on March 5, 2013

Some organizations were forced to put their sustainability goals on the back burner during the recent recession, according to Floor Daily. While “greening” operations was of significant importance before the onset of the FMs go green to improve organizations bottom line.downturn, it took the backseat to questions about companies’ future stability. Now, economic conditions are improving and facilities managers are finding they can once again address these important business concerns.

When enterprises embrace environmentally friendly measures, the benefits are two-fold. They can simultaneously lower operating expenses and reduce their carbon footprints, which explains why sustainability initiatives have taken off among facilities managers.

Greater push for green
A quarterly survey by Facility Planners + Architects Inc. found that facilities managers at manufacturing, storage and distribution companies are especially putting more emphasis on going green, the source adds. This push may be a way to improve operations by increasing efficiency and eliminating waste, even though renovation work and relocations are at a standstill.

If Facilities managers are not able to influence their supervisors to invest in a technologically smarter or newer location, they will have to make changes in existing structures. This can prove challenging because older buildings often contain features that can counteract energy efficiency – they are drafty, compartmentalized and use outdated fixtures. However, today’s skilled facilities managers can use these locations as opportunities to showcase their professional backgrounds and advanced tools such as an integrated workplace management system.

Where to start on sustainability
It may be intimidating to begin a sustainability initiative, but it only takes a structured approach, according to the International Facilities Managers Association (IFMA). The following is a roadmap suggested by the source that is intended to help facilities managers turn their facilities into lean and green operations.

1. Assess the current situation
Facilities managers need to gauge the interest and dedication to various values and follow through with only those that are most promising, the source explains. Otherwise, it’s unlikely sustainability will be successful in the long run.

2. Pick a starting point
Utility consumption is the most common starting point, but some facilities might first want to address ways to reduce resource use, materials and water waste, IFMA adds. Facilities managers can choose the area with the highest-impact and lowest costs to start. 

3. Deploy the plan, measure it and check it regularly
Like most big plans, sustainability efforts aren’t one and done. The source points out that to be effective, sustainability initiatives must be a continuous effort that are measured and monitored over time. 

Find the most cost-effective solutions
Facilities managers can also use sustainability pushes to demonstrate their value. By suggesting and then implementing low-cost, high-impact strategies for making a firm eco-friendly, facilities managers can show how their work has a direct impact on company processes.

Some cost-effective methods for increasing sustainability include substituting energy efficient lighting retrofits that do not require new fixtures, deploying low-aerators on bathroom and shower faucets, educating employees about best practices, establishing recycling programs and adopting greener cleaning policies, the source adds.

If Facilities managers have bigger budgets, they might be able to convince C-suite executives to invest in energy efficient equipment, enact new policies regarding buy-in from constituents and modify building controls.

Assessment is crucial
When facilities managers are making important decisions about how to best utilize facilities and assets, they will need to collect and thoroughly assess data from their workplaces, according to APPA’s (formerly known as the Association of Physical Plant Administrators) Center for Facilities Research. By first surveying the current environment, Facilities managers can use the results to determine where and why changes are most effective. If they still need further insight, they might consider a focus group that enables them to better understand why those changes will have the strongest impact on their company’s bottom line.    



Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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