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If the UK is to transition successfully to a net zero economy by 2050, its building stock must be decarbonised as much as realistically possible.

Although modern construction methods mean that new buildings are more energy efficient, the fact remains that 80 percent of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built, making it imperative that existing buildings – and the way they are used – become more sustainable.

The facilities management sector has an enormous role to play in achieving this. Organisations are ramping up their investment and urgency around ESG, not only because it is the right thing to do as part of a collective movement towards carbon neutrality, but also because the business case is now extremely difficult to ignore.

Indeed, by adopting green strategies around the composition and management of their built assets, companies can benefit from savings on energy bills as well as productivity gains that are derived from a healthier, happier workforce. Demonstrating commitment to sustainability has also been widely reported as being a key driver for attracting and retaining younger talent in the workplace. Meanwhile, investors are also placing greater weighting on ESG as a criterion when considering where they channel their finances.

FMs can contribute to various sustainability goals by helping organisations to manage their buildings more efficiently. Here, we will look at two strands of technology that can assist FM managers and their teams in doing just that.

Unlocking Opportunities with CAFM Software

Digitising paper and spreadsheet-based processes is a great place to start.

Computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software is one of the most widely used technologies around, and more and more companies are realising the numerous benefits it has to offer.

Enhanced asset management and extending asset lifecycles is one. CAFM offers a smarter, digitised approach to maintenance by centralising equipment data, streamlining audits and inspections, calculating asset depreciation and maintaining assets in the most cost-effective way. As a result, Facilities Managers can reduce asset downtime, improve asset performance, extend asset life and lower maintenance costs by cutting the need for professionals to carry out costly reactive repair and replace activities on site.

Another CAFM feature that can fuel sustainability gains is reporting. Real-time reporting within CAFM software provides FMs with an up-to-date view on how assets are performing, allowing them to make proactive decisions based on accurate, timely data. They can intervene on assets which are not performing as expected and rejig maintenance schedules to ensure that contractors conduct fewer call outs by completing multiple tasks during a single visit. This will also help to reduce carbon emissions from excess travel and save organisations money on callout fees.

Reach the Next Level with BIM

Building information modelling (BIM) is now another staple in the FM tech toolkit, and for good reason.

Broadly defined as a collaborative way to share an uninterrupted flow of information across the lifecycle of a building, BIM is a digitised bank of highly valuable data that can support FMs in their bid to manage buildings more efficiently. Such information could include drawings and digital models of the site, details of assets, types of materials used, warranty details, and even the serial numbers of specific components of crucial systems such as elevators, HVAC and security hardware.

With BIM, contractors and operatives can view assets, their component parts and geography of spaces in advance, enabling them to bring the right equipment to get through the relevant part of the building and to carry out maintenance tasks. They will also be able to identify spare parts needed in advance, reduce the need for repeated call outs and minimise disruption while they are on site.

The implementation of IoT-enabled sensors is another key aspect of BIM. By gathering data on aspects such as room occupancy, waste management and asset usage, FMs can make evidence-based decisions to unlock a range of benefits, including savings on heating and light in unused rooms, and optimisation of cleaning and maintenance schedules.

A Smarter Approach to Sustainability

Adopting these technologies will set FMs on their journey toward a smart building.

Smart buildings represent the pinnacle of building management efficiency by providing FMs with the accurate, timely information they need to make better decisions around many key aspects of facilities management. Indeed, visibility uncovered by data is essential to FMs being able to perform their role as champions of sustainability within the built environment, and the likes of CAFM and BIM hold keys to unlocking the transformative potential of that information.

With the operation of buildings widely believed to account for around 30 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, there has never been a better time for our sector to stand up as leaders in the field of sustainability.

For more information about how Service Works Global can support you on your smart building journey, read about our CAFM system, QFM.

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