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Sustaining the Day Job

08 June 2011

SPONSORED ARTICLE: Information that resides in the FM department is vital to effective environmental sustainability management . The key is to ensure that information is managed efficiently as part of everyday FM activities, says Causeway’s David Bell.

WITH SUSTAINABILITY NOW VERY FIRMLY on the corporate agenda for many organisations FM departments are increasingly being expected to play a significant role in its day-today management. In fact, a recent report from BIFM highlighted sustainability as a top 10 challenge for FM managers. This is partly because so much sustainability information resides in the FM domain, and also because it’s now clear that sustainability needs to become part of the routine management of thebuilding(s).
In terms of the status of the FM department in the organisation this is excellent news, bringing the FM department closer to the corporate board room table. However, it also presents practical challenges in terms of the increased workload, often without any extra resources. There are also additional challenges in terms of sourcing, gathering and analysing the data.
To that end, there are very good reasons for looking at how sustainability management and compliance with sustainability-related regulations can be integrated with everyday FM activities. Essentially, to manage sustainability and the ‘day job’ you need to make sustainability part of the day job – making it a by-product of existing activities.
In fact, the ability to integrate FM information needs to be a key consideration when considering investment in sustainability management tools. Such tools should also be capable of gathering information from internal areas and departments of the business as well as from the external supply chain - and be able to analyse all of that information in real time sothe results are meaningful.
To illustrate this general principle it’s useful to consider some practical examples of how this might be instigated. Energy consumption, and associated carbon emissions, is a very good example of this. Not only does energy consumption impact on the bottom line, it also has a major bearing on an organisation’s sustainability credentials. And this is even more important for those organisations participating in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES). As well as the cost of purchasing carbon allowances in relation to emission levels, the publication of a companies’ performance may well have a direct impact on brand image.
Measuring overall carbon emissions from energy consumption in buildings may be relatively straightforward if automatic meter reading (AMR) has been installed - and this will be required for the CRC EES, Energy Performance Certificates and Display Energy Certificates.
However, most AMR only measures bulk consumption. For instance, you may know the total gas consumption of a building, but how much is used for catering and how much for heating and hot water? So more detailed information, ideally through sub-metering, is required for meaningful energy management. This, in turn, means much more information has to be gathered and managed. 
Furthermore, that information may be found in different places. For instance, some energy data may be centrally located while other data may be gathered by a maintenance contractor and held in their systems. There may even by different maintenance contractors working on different buildings, each using different systems.
So potentially the required information may need to be pulled in from different buildings and different systems, often in different formats.Reliance on the various people involved remembering to submit the data will generally lead to incomplete data and much chasing.
However, if data submission is managed as a key task through the FM help desk software, it becomes part of the everyday routine. Once it’s been harvested, this information can then be fed into a central sustainability management system for validation, analysis, audit and reporting. It can also be combined with other relevant data, such as carbon emissions from vehicle fleets (again often managed by the FM department, to calculate the carbon footprint). Or it may be sorted in other ways to produce the ‘evidence pack’ required by the CRC EES. In fact, the flexibility to ‘slice and dice’ the data in many different ways is a vital component in making sustainability management easy and cost-effective.
As noted earlier, there may also be a need to harvest data from other systems. If you want to understand the energy consumption per head of staff, you will need data from the HR department. Or you may want to relate it to space utilisation, with information from your space management software.
Crucially, having access to this data also enables the FM department to play a more strategic and pro-active role in the organisation’s energy management and carbon reduction strategy. Energy consumption figures will highlight areas of high consumption, which can then be investigated in more detail to identify the scope for savings.
Waste management can be streamlined in a similar way. If waste is sorted into different streams at the point of disposal (i.e. different bins for different types of waste), its collection and measurement by in-house staff and/or contractors can also be managed through help desk tasks.
Specialist software
Our experience working with many different types of organisation shows that general enterprise management software does not have the specialist functionality to manage sustainability data effectively. What is needed is a purpose-designed tool that is capable of harvesting, validating and publishing all the data needed to formulate and implement a sustainability/CSR policy, including CRC EES compliance.
Causeway’s Sustainability iQ has been developed to do just that. This powerful online tool is able to collate environmental and other sustainability data from a wide range of sources, delivering massive savings in management time.
In fact, what would once have been months of work can literally be reduced to just minutes. It can import data from a wide range of sources, including FM software, supply chain partners’ systems and from spreadsheets – with the ability to input data direct into the system as well. All data is validated and made available for fast evaluation and reporting, with a full audit trail of origins and any changes. There is also a module that has been specially developed for managing the CRC EES, complete with Footprint Reports, Annual Reports and even electronic collation of Evidence Packs.
Sustainability iQ enables reporting by service type (utilities, waste etc.) and/or service line (heating, lighting, glass recycling, paper recycling, etc.) – collated by department, building, region or entire global portfolio – over any time period, while also taking account of seasonal variation. It can also be compared directly against corporate sustainability targets (e.g. electricity consumption, carbon emissions, travel mileage).
A digital dashboard facilitates reporting at all levels from macro overview down to granular detail, populating pre-prepared report templates for even greater time-savings. Reports can be generated in a range of formats, including PDF and Excel.
It is clear that the FM profession has an important role to play in helping to develop and implement sustainability management strategies. It is just as clear that this needs to be done efficiently and cost-effectively. Specialist tools such as Sustainability iQ offer the functionality to make that happen.
● Further information can be found at

Measuring up
Some of the key sustainability measurements FMs can contribute to:
● Energy consumption, system by system and plant item by plant item, ideally on a floor by floor or zone by zone basis
● Water consumption
● Car/van/lorry journeys
● Efficiency of fleet vehicles
● Air travel
● Commuting patterns of staff
● Consumption of everyday consumables (e.g. paper, toner, cleaning chemicals)
● Recycling levels, broken down by separate waste streams
● Percentage of waste consigned to landfill
● Carbon footprint/environmental performance of suppliers and their products

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