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FM's role in assisting the UK recovery from the coronavirus lockdown

Author : Paul Lucas is managing director of Artic Building Services

31 July 2020

It is estimated that businesses may take a year to fully recover from the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has collided with the climate change emergency, demanding the solutions to both crises be combined in one environmentally friendly response.

Businesses must significantly reduce energy usage in line with the UK’s goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Working environments are set to change. The management of facilities and working practices for engineers will be adapted to meet the demands of the ‘new normal’.

In cases where lone working is a risk, will engineers be forced to work in pairs? In high risk environments, will sufficient PPE be available?

This is an example where businesses will adopt new technology and will become, if not already, an integral part of delivering services at a distance. To keep on top of compliance without compromising the quality of service, it will be an advantage being able to monitor and input data remotely from desktops and mobiles.

At a time where workplace safety is at an all-time high, the data driven from CAFM systems will be crucial to provide comfort and ease anxiety for both staff and authorities.

Businesses that operate premises over a large square footprint such as hospitals and universities could also see a shift to further mobile working rather than having site-based staff.

This will be possible if smart buildings and the optimisation of BMS systems are implemented where not already. CAFM systems can gain control of the facilities they support quickly and efficiently.

Service providers working in partnership with them will be able to streamline service delivery and ensure engineers can deliver in a safe and timely fashion, keeping in touch with staff.

The technology required to significantly reduce the energy emissions is available, but the biggest challenge for facilities managers is funding.

Without adequate funding, technology such as building management systems, CAFM and energy-efficient HVAC systems cannot be installed. Many environmentalists believe HVAC systems must be eradicated to achieve a net-zero carbon future.

However, many businesses have a genuine need for HVAC that cannot be ignored, especially since 2020 is expected to be the warmest year in UK history.

Facilities managers should measure and monitor the effectiveness of their heating and cooling systems.

Air conditioning provides comfort in a working environment and improves performance in staff. HVAC systems ventilate buildings, reducing the risk of infectious particles hanging in the air.

These systems help to maintain a germ-free environment that contributes to the well-being of staff and helps prevent the spread of diseases.

Facilities managers are responsible for improving energy-efficiency within their business. Optimising HVAC systems is a key way they can reduce their building’s carbon emissions.

Funding appears to be the biggest limitation preventing companies from investing in technology that would reduce energy usage.

Although improving HVAC systems may require an initial investment, an energy-efficient system will result in long-term cost savings.

As new technologies become more affordable, businesses may be able to reinvent themselves as more sustainable corporations and achieve its net-zero target.

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