FMJ.CO.UK SUSTAINABILITY FOCUS
OCTOBER 2019 39
The government’s net zero emissions law
provides a significant driver for energy
e iciency in the UK. This is an opportunity
for the FM sector to step up and claim a
voice in how their organisations can help
to deliver the government’s goals. This
article addresses energy performance and
optimising buildings; future articles will
examine strategy, target setting, culture
and procurement and supplier impacts.
Optimising buildings for energy e iciency
has been discussed for many years. The Probe
studies from 1995 helped to identify and
quantify the challenges with existing
buildings (1), but little has progressed. Many of the
issues raised in these reports are common across
the building stock standing today, so there are
few surprises about the ongoing
challenges. But business as usual is
no longer good enough – we need a
di erent approach.
While net zero legislation has made
a di erence, the greatest driver has
been investors who are demanding
more of an evidence-based approach
– including an understanding of risk.
The issues of energy and, more importantly, climate
change are impacting
on investment decisions. Regulations and schemes
such as the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme
(ESOS) and Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting
(SECR) raise the need for accurate data and public
reporting by some 11,000 UK organisations (2). This
introduces a greater level of exposure, increasing
reputational risk and potentially damaging the
chances of being selected for bids and tenders.
Organisations at a senior level need to have a better
understanding of the data and information provided
from an enterprise risk perspective. FMs can help
their organisations understand how energy is used
and why. This requires a joined-up approach to data
collection and reporting (3).
WHAT DOES GOOD LOOK LIKE?
The growth of digital technology has led to increasing
disruption of the business-to-business or customer
model as seen in Uber and WeWork. The internet
of things and machine learning is helping to deliver
e iciencies by looking at more variables and coordinating
In the fi rst of a new series of articles, Sunil Shah
discusses the challenges involved in delivering the
government’s net zero emissions target, and what FMs
can do to improve their buildings’ performance
insights into outputs. For example:
DeepMind saved 40 per cent of energy in Google
data centres (4).
At The Edge in Amsterdam, 28,000 sensors
track items such as desk use, power use, water,
meeting rooms, temperature and co ee. Data is
used to allocate space for sta , provide targeted
cleaning, vary lighting and AC levels, and produce
maintenance schedules (5).
ABB Copenhagen utilises actuators on lighting,
heating, audio and blinds (although FM sets the
Disruptive technologies from companies like
Ravti, OpenSensors and Demand Logic are
transforming predictive maintenance. The key
di erentiator is to enable constructive decisionmaking
by the end user. Savings in the region of
20-40 per cent (cost and carbon) can be realised
from the use of such technology, with payback
substantially less than some renewable energy
and low carbon options.
According to the BEIS committee report ‘Energy
e iciency: building towards net zero’: “The barriers to
uptake are well documented: a lack of information; a
lack of access to capital; high upfront costs and long
payback periods; misaligned incentives between
tenants and landlords; disruption to normal business
activities; and competing investment demands
within companies resulting in other business growth
investments taking precedence.” (3) Development of
a business case and early engagement is critical to
align the organisation’s energy programme with the
business goals and help overcome these barriers.
When determining whether or not a building can be
optimised, there are four key areas to consider.
1 Legacy (6)
Understanding the original intent of the building, the
changes that have been made and the current use of
the building will help determine whether it is fit for
purpose. An older building will naturally have more
changes, but there are common issues related to
heating and cooling demand, lighting provision and
the accuracy of the building management system
across all buildings, regardless of age. Remember,
predictive maintenance tools typically produce a 20-
40 per cent improvement.
The skills of building occupants are o en at odds
with the complexity of the systems in new buildings.
Where o ices have previously employed technicians,
now skilled facilities managers on high salaries are
needed to look a er new high-tech buildings. A lack
of competency will damage the ability to maintain
a building’s performance, regardless of the
sophistication of the controls.
3 Contracts (7)
Clients have various departmental
responsibilities, from cost pressures and
supply chain metrics through to wellbeing and
environmental reporting and compliance. Each
of these areas has di erent drivers and typically
requires di erent contractors to deliver. Having
a common goal and set of requirements agreed
by all parties can reduce the potential for conflict:
higher o ice temperatures will improve wellbeing,
but also increase energy costs.
4 Internal barriers
Client engagement is vital – many
case studies are illustrating
scenarios where aspects are
paid for but not necessarily fully
delivered. An engaged client is
more likely to recognise this.
Education and awareness are
important – the optimisation of
the building as a concept is set at management level,
but measured at operational level. The role of the FM
enables informed decision-making to be made.
The first step is to understand where your
organisation stands in respect of each of these areas.
A light touch approach to energy performance can
be taken. The development of a business case will
depend on the organisation’s business goals and
objectives. Most organisations have publicly stated
carbon reduction goals, and any business with over
250 employees will need to provide a directors’
report as part of the SECR. The key impacts revolve
around disclosure, inability to bid and the resilience
of the business.
The next article will look at developing a strategy
and plan from the business case.
Sunil Shah is Director at Acclaro Advisory and Global
Chair of the RICS Responsible Business Forum.
(3) BEIS Committee Report: ‘Energy e iciency: building
towards net zero’ (www.parliament.uk/business/