Facility Managers, Make Your Buildings Paris-Proof!

We, Facility Managers, are very busy these days - aside from our daily tasks, we are reorganizing our buildings, our people and our budgets. Covid-19 has turned our world up-side-down. Luckily, we are hands-on and agile professionals. As we are adjusting and adapting to the challenges brought about by this pandemic and are on track again with the flow of changes, why not revisit another burning topic - our company’s eco-footprint.

Setting up a “Paris-Proof Program” for your buildings is important for our planet and a good idea for your budget.

So let’s take a look at what this “Paris-Proof” concept is all about and gain ideas on how to implement it.


What is Paris-Proof?

According to the United Nations Environment Program, buildings and their construction together account for 36 percent of global energy use and 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually. Progress towards sustainable buildings and construction is advancing, but improvements are still not keeping up with a growing buildings sector (expected to double by 2060) and rising demand for energy services.

The energy intensity per square meter of the global buildings sector needs to improve on average by 30% by 2030 (compared to 2015) to be on track to meet global climate ambitions set forth in the Paris Agreement. If we are to keep global temperature rise within 1.5 °C, as prescribed by the Paris Agreement; we have to make our buildings Paris-Proof, NOW!


How do we Paris-Proof our buildings? 

As FM professionals, we are front and centre in making buildings Paris-Proof. We have an immense influence on reducing energy consumption. More concretely, we can change energy consumption in two ways:

1. reducing the energy consumed by equipment and facilities in the buildings, and 2. reducing the energy consumed by people using the buildings.

A more drastic way to attack the footprint of our company would be moving from an energy-inefficient building to a brand new smart building. Only then we would have the ability to choose our premises taking into account the complete set of factors of ‘operational energy efficiency’, the energy used in buildings that is influenced by building design, insulation, passive solutions for heating and cooling, appliances, and systems. But that may be a bridge too far for many, so let’s focus on the first two points we mentioned. 

An example of reducing the energy consumed by equipment and facilities in buildings is the use of more energy-efficient appliances and equipment in FM activities. On catering facilities, replacing old refrigerators or turning-off cooling vitrines when not in use, may sound simple and doable but they can contribute significantly to a reduction in energy consumption. The same is true with using energy-efficient vacuum cleaners and scrubbing machines that clean floors and surfaces with minimal passes; and without using excessive energy. Data-driven cleaning systems provided by FM service providers also can help a lot in efficiency of both equipment and human presence.

IT equipment and infrastructure are other areas where significant energy reduction can be made. Using energy-efficient computers, screens, etc. and turning them off when not in use, as on-going, short-term goals and broadly, limiting the frequent purchase and replacement of IT equipment are ways to reduce energy usage. Automatic switch-off lighting systems, equipped with motion-sensors,  especially for common areas like hallways are also one way to limit energy consumption.

Reducing the energy consumed by people using the buildings involves behavioural changes and might be challenging to implement but this is where we can get the fastest savings. Turning-off the lights and equipment when not in use, reporting malfunctioning equipment via an easy to use communication channel and using facilities in a more energy-conscious way (small meeting room for small groups of people, for example) are just some of the ways that building occupants can reduce their energy footprint. 


How do we sustain these measures?

In order for these energy reduction measures to be sustainable, they must be backed by corporate policy and leadership. Corporate facility management Paris-Proof Programs (e.g., Royal HaskoningDHV’s Global Office Network Paris-proof by 2035) involving all stakeholders should become the norm rather than the exception. FM programs like this include internal involvement but also ties-in external parties like FM service providers and suppliers of equipment.

From under the umbrella of a "Paris-Proof Program", corporations can implement short-term measures as described above, as well as follow a roadmap towards complete sustainability by a target year. Such a roadmap could include the generation of own energy through solar or wind power, refurbishing (and or replacing) old buildings, long-term and sustainable facilities tailored to each building, etc.

FM service providers can also help with interesting solutions, or even propose a “Paris Proof FM Program” to their corporate clients, integrating into their proposal all actions that can be taken within the scope of their services.


What are the first steps that FM practitioners should do to Paris-Proof their buildings?

Apart from applying actions to get the first quick wins on energy saving, a key element in reducing energy consumption is to be able to measure energy usage efficiently.

Corporations need not develop their own system for measuring energy consumption. They can integrate startup solutions for data collection of the building’s energy consumption. These innovative digital solutions do not only measure and show you the results on a dashboard, but are also designed to take action when energy is spilled, by predicting necessary maintenance of HVAC installations, for example.

There are very smart solutions on the market now which do not even need any new hardware, like sensors, to be installed. The FM service supplier on the maintenance of your building can give you advice on which digital solution to implement to get optimal visualization of your consumption and to thrive cost-saving results.

Energy Tech Startups

Energy tech startups have become increasingly advanced and more diverse, and rightly so. It is one of the most actively funded sectors, with over 700 plus established startups/companies, receiving overall funding of $22.2 B which interestingly enough, have been raised in the last 3 years (2017-2019). 2021 is set to be a bumper year for climate tech or cleantech startups; with VC’s already pouring $16 B into the sector this year.

A PwC report shows that 6 cents of every Venture Capital (VC) dollar spent last year went towards climate tech.  Between these two startup verticals and the countless other tech verticals that intersect facility management (i.e., food tech solutions in catering/food services, security tech, etc.), there are and will be plenty of opportunities and an abundance of innovative solutions that FM professionals can use to Paris-Proof their buildings.


Where can FM stakeholders meet, connect, and get help?

The Global Alliance of Facility Management Innovators is where FM decision-makers can stay abreast of the industry's evolution – from latest (and long-term) trends to innovative solutions fuelled by startups. Membership is open to board members of FM service providers, corporate FM directors, heads of innovation, business transformation managers, and FM consultants who we collectively call FM Innovators. On a weekly basis,  there is new content on the FM Innovators' membership hub,  providing future proof, practical and comprehensive tech knowledge for FM  professionals. And every two weeks, a new FM startup is highlighted!

Our FM innovators can benefit from the following membership features:

  • Startup sourcing – week after week, we present you startups with solutions for FM
  • Hackathons with young professionals for out-of-the box ideas
  • Trend radar tells you which and how new technologies are relevant to the FM industry
  • Best practices benchmarking – members can get inspired by co-members and their experiences with innovation
  • Direct and unlimited access to FM startups and startup database
  • Introduction to the startup ecosystem for all professionals new to the scene