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Exploring the green tech revolution in FM

22 April 2024

Technology is transforming the facilities management industry – and companies that don’t keep up could lose out. Amanda Vlietstra spoke to Dominic Ponniah at Cleanology (pictured) and Tom Anderton at TEAM Energy about some of the ways in which tech is making FM a cleaner, greener industry.

For an industry that, for many years, didn’t experience an awful amount of rapid change, facilities management has suddenly found itself on the frontline of a green technological revolution. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, companies are increasingly adopting green technology to enhance sustainability and reduce their environmental impact – and it is facilities managers who have the job of putting the wishes of their clients into practice.

This means that the industry has had to get up-to-speed with all the latest in green technological innovation very quickly. Smart technology has allowed FMs to optimise energy usage, using smart sensors, energy-efficient lighting, and automated HVAC systems to help reduce energy consumption. IoT data is used to optimise operations, track energy usage, and predict maintenance needs. Data analytics identify patterns and suggest efficiency improvements. A huge amount of hardware and software on the market offers some or all of the above – and more.

Green technology is helping facilities managers conserve water. Low-flow faucets, rainwater harvesting systems, and smart irrigation controllers minimise water wastage, while water-efficient fixtures reduce utility costs and contribute to sustainability. As EV technology becomes established, FMs are installing charging stations to help clients, employees and other service users reduce their fossil fuel consumption. And, increasingly, green energy sources such as solar panels and heat pumps are becoming part of the fixtures and fittings in managed facilities.

Many FM companies are embracing this change – but with so much going on in this space, it can be daunting. What do you invest in? How do you know what will last the distance, and what will need replacing in a few months or years? Nobody wants to end up with the 21st century version of Betamax!

However, resisting the new green technology can itself prove costly. Although green technology requires initial investment, it ultimately reduces operational costs through energy savings and improved efficiency. It can also prove vital with achieving compliance in a world where governments are introducing increasingly tough environmental regulation.

It helps with a competitive edge – investors and consumers alike increasingly prioritise responsible environmental practices. And, most importantly, it helps FM companies do their bit for the planet by ensuring that both they and their clients are well on their way to achieving those all-important Net Zero targets.

For those who have concerns about where to invest, it may be worth collaborating with experts such as consultants specialising in green technology. Implementing pilot projects can also enable FMs to test new technology, evaluating real-world performance and identifying any challenges. 

Remember, any investment in green technology should align with the companies’ vision and values – and choose systems that offer scalability and the adaptability as technology evolves. Get it right, and you could be among the winners of the FM green revolution.  

“We’re at the forefront of technological innovation”
Dominic Ponniah, CEO & Co-Founder of Cleanology, explores the ways technology has transformed cleaning operations.

Technology has revolutionised the way commercial cleaning operations are carried out, enhancing efficiency, productivity, and service quality. By leveraging technological advancements, FM managers are able to optimise cleaning processes, monitor performance, and create safer and healthier environments.

At Cleanology, we’re at the forefront of technological innovation, strategically incorporating cutting-edge solutions across various facets of our operations. We have introduced new platforms throughout the business, enhancing integration and activity management. Our own platform, Cleancopter, allows our teams to manage tasks seamlessly online, reducing paper reliance and elevating satisfaction for both customers and employees.

Cleanology continues to take our sustainability impacts seriously. We have advocated for chemical-free cleaning for the past decade and we’re now almost chemical-free across our entire portfolio. To tackle the issue of over-use of cleaning solutions, we developed our own portion-controlled sachets of biological cleaning solution – a move that is saving more than 16,000 litres of water each year, and has drastically cut the use of plastic bottles, from 21,600 to just 600 PET bottles.

Embracing energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting, electric vehicles and low-energy equipment, has substantially reduced our carbon footprint, and lowered costs. For example, our decision to switch our fleet of vehicles to fully electric is saving more than £3,000 a year per vehicle. This fleet is the exception in an industry that clocks up substantial mileage travelling to client sites. Our entire van fleet in London is 100% electric, saving 5,000 litres of diesel per year – equivalent to 13.5 tonnes of CO2.  There is no road tax or London congestion charge to pay, which saves £8,500 per vehicle, and a massive £51,000-a-year cost reduction overall. 

As well as reducing our own plastic waste, we decided to tackle end markets with the introduction of uniforms made from recycled bottles. Each shirt is made from two bottles, while the sweatshirts are made from three bottles. This has saved 7,000 bottles from landfill in 2022, while also reducing the need for the resources and energy used to manufacture both bottles and new clothing.  Our recycled uniforms and portion-controlled cleaning solutions were both industry firsts. Together, these initiatives are saving 28,000 bottles from landfill every year. 

“Data provided by APIs can inform better decision-making”
Tom Anderton at TEAM Energy shares four ways in which Application Programming Interface (API) technology can help FMs navigate the complex landscape of carbon and energy management.

1.            Real-time monitoring and analysis. 
APIs can play a crucial role in energy monitoring and targeting software by enabling the integration of various systems and devices. APIs enable data exchange between a range of systems and can allow energy and carbon management platforms access to up-to-data information from various sources. This capability provides instant access to real-time data and helps businesses spot inefficiencies, track consumption patterns and respond swiftly with corrective measures.

2.            Seamless integration
Energy and carbon management relies on a vast array of data from across the business, often from diverse sources and systems. API integration acts as a bridge that facilitates integration and ensuring an effortless flow of data that eliminates data silos and promotes a holistic organisational view. As energy monitoring needs grow, APIs allow for the easy addition of new devices and data sources without significant changes to the existing infrastructure.

3.            Automation
Effective energy and carbon management calls on large quantities of data. From collecting monthly consumption data to generating reports and measuring the success of energy saving projects, automation reduces manual intervention. Automation increases efficiency, saves time, and ensures high-quality, timely and consistent data. APIs can be used to connect software with control systems, allowing for automated adjustments based on energy usage data, which can lead to more efficient energy management.

4.            Collaboration and communication
The ability to share data effortlessly via API technology stimulates collaboration. API connectivity improves communication and information sharing across the wider corporate landscape. Enhanced collaboration supports streamlined compliance, operational transparency and promotes a shared commitment to sustainability.

Successful energy and carbon management relies on accurate, complete and consistent data. In an age when organisations are managing multiple data streams across their business operations, from Internet of Things (IoT), Business Intelligence and Management Information to BEMS data, API technology plays a critical role in accessing and sharing advanced data insights. The data provided by APIs can inform better decision-making regarding energy policies and strategies. As businesses continue to embrace meaningful sustainability, the role of API technology is fundamental in harnessing enterprise-wide data to shape a greener and more efficient future. 

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