As Trump announces the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement and Australia debates whether or not to follow suit, the issue of climate change and sustainability has again been brought to the fore. Questions are being raised regarding the plausibility of meeting the target to keep global temperatures below 2C, without the inclusion of the world’s second biggest carbon polluter. Whether or not this looks achievable, the world’s countries need to do everything possible to restrict their emissions – and the potential for future change lies within the construction and facilities management industries.
Energy efficiency starts at home
While not a legal requirement to construct energy efficient buildings, achieving carbon savings in buildings will be key to hitting the target of cutting greenhouse emissions by 80% of the levels recorded in 1990. The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and the Energy Saving Trust consider that the focus should be on building carbon-neutral homes. While initially more expensive to build, the Trust argues that it is more expensive not to have one, citing potential energy bill savings of £1,000 per year. Furthermore, as more of these low carbon homes are built, costs will fall as “building techniques, materials and the supply chain will benefit from efficiencies found in scale.”
Smart energy management
Commercial buildings are already becoming more energy efficient by employing smart technology. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), up to $60 billion could be saved if investments in energy efficiency were increased by just 1 – 4%. Cutting-edge buildings like The Edge in Amsterdam were developed using the latest technology to control the environment – for example, through 28,000 sensors within its connected lighting system, the building can monitor motion, light, temperature, humidity and infrared and make changes accordingly. While this level of technology is outside the reach of many organisations, smaller steps can be taken using technology to create more sustainable environments.
The percentage of facilities managers using CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) software is higher than ever before, and this powerful technology is providing the ability to control and understand buildings and assets like never before. Combining this software with smart technology gives an unprecedented level of data and automation which is essential in this fight against unnecessary emissions. Sensors are cheaper and more readily available than just a couple of years ago, and when placed around the inside of a building can gather a huge amount of data. This can then be analysed, allowing activity patterns for lighting, air conditioning or even cleaning to specific areas to be identified and reduced.
It is already becoming commonplace for BMS (Building Management Systems) to be integrated with FM software to reduce energy usage. Alerts raised by the BMS can be logged directly to the FM system and a maintenance engineer dispatched automatically, and when combined with room booking systems, meeting rooms and offices can be automated so only powered only when in use. In this way responsibility for managing resources can be shared between the FM team and the building users, reducing emissions and saving money.
Effective asset management is also a key area of focus when looking at sustainability. CAFM software, such as QFM, can be used to calculate the most effective scheduling for maintaining an asset, reducing unnecessary servicing, unscheduled call outs and keeping energy costs low. Across large organisations even small inefficiencies can converge into substantial performance issues, damaging the environment as well as reducing productivity across the organisation.
Find out how CAFM software can help your organisation manage energy and reduce emissions by contacting us here.
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