How Sustainable Facility Management Can Benefit Your Business
By Ray Brosnan of Brosnan Property Solutions
More companies than ever are rethinking their approach to sustainability. However, in a business sense, sustainability is a fairly broad term. First and foremost, there’s the sustainability of a company’s bottom line. If an organisation is unprofitable, there’s no scope for growth and nobody benefits from sustainability policies.
Beyond this, a sustainable business should strive to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as commit to recycling and eliminating waste. These green credentials bring plentiful perks. A sustainable business typically enjoys cost optimisation benefits, making an operation more robust and resilient to economic shocks.
Furthermore, an improved corporate image can attract new clients and top-tier talent. A key pillar of all of this is sustainable facility management (SFM).
An Introduction to Sustainable Facility Management
In simple terms, sustainable facility management focuses on ensuring that business premises have minimal impact on the environment. In some instances, sustainable policies result in zero negative impact on the environment.
Business premises use more energy than residential buildings. In fact, non-residential buildings account for more than 55% of all energy consumption. Despite this, most business premises are inefficient and energy waste is a real problem.
To prove effective, sustainable facility management requires multiple changes to everyday business operations. In some cases, businesses may be forced to invest in significant alterations to corporate premises. However, the rise in sustainable technology allows for less intensive and more affordable alternatives.
Smart technology like occupancy sensors and motorised windows can yield big savings on energy bills. Meanwhile, water consumption can be mitigated by investing in telemetry systems to identify leaks.
However, sustainable facility management isn’t simply a set of processes that optimise buildings. Instead, it can deliver a host of benefits for employees and larger organisations alike.
How Does SFM Benefit Employees?
Standard facility management will greatly improve working conditions for employees. This can include everything from managing ambient temperatures and humidity to ensuring workplaces are kept clean.
Improving working conditions for employees has a direct impact on productivity. Maintaining temperatures of 27°C is considered ideal in premises requiring manual labour. As temperatures rise, productivity falls. In an office-based setting, maximum temperatures of 25°C are considered optimal. Striking the perfect balance has been shown to improve output, with workers encountering less stress and producing fewer typos.
Sustainable Businesses Attract Better Candidates
A record number of firms are struggling to recruit new staff. If your organisation is finding it hard to attract and retain the right talent, prioritising sustainable facility management might be the way forward.
The typical job seeker isn’t only looking for lucrative salaries and excellent benefits, they’re also seeking out employers with a commitment to sustainability. In fact, as many as one in five people would resist applying for a role with a company that isn’t committed to sustainable policies.
A recent survey from IBM Institute for Business Value reported that 71% of employees and job seekers consider sustainable brands as a more attractive option. The same survey also suggests that around half of candidates are prepared to accept a more modest salary when working with sustainable businesses.
In a general sense, businesses that take facility management seriously are more likely to attract and retain staff. Candidates are more likely to consider a workplace that prioritises the well-being of its employees. What’s more, they’re more likely to stay in a position, rather than seek out better opportunities elsewhere.
A happy and healthy workplace also benefits employers in the long term. In the UK, the average employee misses 20 days of work due to ill health. Workplace-specific issues like poor ventilation are often the cause of staff sickness. The sad thing is, they don’t need to be. A simple reshuffle of facility management practices can dramatically reduce employee sickness and absence.
The Benefits of SFM for Businesses
Sustainable facility management makes economic sense for any business. By boosting productivity, a company’s bottom line benefits. Furthermore, increased employee satisfaction helps businesses retain talent. This reduces staff turnover, mitigating the need for costly onboarding processes.
A sustainable workplace also creates everyday saving potential. An environmentally-friendly operation generally enjoys lower energy costs. Green credentials are also an effective marketing tool.
Sustainability can create lucrative new revenue channels. Customers and client organisations are actively looking for green companies to do business with. Provided you’ve implemented robust sustainability processes, you can use your eco-friendly credentials as leverage over the competition.
Sustainable facility management demonstrates that a business takes environmental and social concerns seriously. Sustainable procurement is now the standard across many industries. If you’re not taking environmental, social and economic consequences seriously, you may find yourself locked out from being able to bid on contracts.
The Wider Impact of Sustainable Facility Management
Boosted revenues and improved employee satisfaction are all well and good, but sustainable facility management has far wider implications. One factor driving businesses to adopt more sustainable policies is environmental awareness. In a clerical setting, the impact of SFM is relatively limited. However, in other sectors, the benefits can be life-changing.
Take medical settings for example. Clinics and hospitals that embrace sustainable facility management and utilise green spaces can expect a direct correlation to patient wellbeing. Medical premises that embrace SFM can expect to see patients with improved recovery rates and fewer complications. This doesn’t even take into account the productivity boost for medical professionals.
Minor adaptations will certainly benefit your workforce, but for businesses prepared to invest in complete overhauls, the environmental impact is far-reaching. So-called green buildings are becoming a common sight in major towns and cities.
Green buildings benefit everyone. They’re designed with energy efficiency in mind, from construction to demolition. Once occupied, companies enjoy lower operational costs, as well as reduced maintenance demands. In fact, the average green building is 14% cheaper to operate than a standard premise.
Green buildings and FMS bring further gains for the wider community. Urban centres are generally warmer than rural environments. However, by introducing greener buildings into a city environment, summertime temperatures can be reduced by as much as 2°C. The construction costs of a green building are generally more expensive than conventional counterparts. However, it’s a small price to pay in the fight against climate change.
Green Companies Enjoy Increased Recognition
Green credentials aren’t just a novelty. Nowadays, more consumers than ever are actively seeking out eco-conscious brands. Around 85% of consumers have switched their buying habits in recent years. Furthermore, around a third of consumers are prepared to pay a premium for products and services from sustainable brands.
SFM Helps Businesses Reduce Their Carbon Footprint
In the UK, small to medium-sized businesses produce more than 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Meanwhile, the typical energy usage of a larger business is around 155,000 kWh per year. These figures are alarming when you consider rising global temperatures and skyrocketing energy bills. However, they’re even more dumbfounding when you realise that a significant amount of energy used by businesses is wasted.
A core aspect of sustainable facility management is a rethink of how energy is used and how waste can be mitigated. Solutions can be as simple as switching out heating and ventilation systems for energy-efficient alternatives.
However, these low-impact switches aren’t always possible. In a worst-case scenario, more fundamental changes are required. However, the one-off cost of installing photovoltaic panels and switching to a renewable energy source pays off in the long run.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
Investing in renewable energy and replacement systems can be a bitter pill to swallow. However, they’re a far better option for businesses looking to future-proof themselves against rising energy costs. Furthermore, these systems tend to benefit from reduced operational costs and require far less maintenance.
Why Every Business Needs to Invest in Sustainable Facility Management
Sustainable facility management makes sense for any business looking to invest in its long-term future. SFM provides a comfortable workspace for staff, boosting productivity and promoting a healthier environment. This can reduce the incidence of sickness and absenteeism.
Furthermore, a sustainable business tends to attract a better class of candidates. More job seekers than ever are looking for companies that can showcase their sustainable credentials, with many prepared to take a pay cut to work with the right employer. Once you’ve filled roles, you can expect to retain staff for longer. This creates continuity but also reduces the need for costly rounds of recruitment and onboarding.
SFM will also help businesses manage rising energy costs. Green buildings are significantly cheaper to run and, provided you’ve invested in smart technology and monitoring tools, require minimal maintenance. Constructing green premises from the ground up is more expensive in the short term, but energy efficiency is built into the entire lifecycle of the building.
Finally, sustainable facility management allows businesses to maintain an advantage in increasingly competitive marketplaces. Nowadays, SFM is a requirement when bidding on contracts and securing investment.
Author: Ray Brosnan is the co-owner of Brosnan Property Solutions, a property maintenance and facility management company based in Ireland. Brosnan Property Solutions also offer domestic services such as plumbers, electricians, rood repairs, and much more.