Green, renewable, sustainable. These are buzzwords which are now commonplace in facilities meetings across Australia.
Words by Jo-Ann Duff
Green targets have now become an integral part of the tender process, supplier proposals, lease agreements and building projects. Green objectives are no longer empty paragraphs, stuffed into documents alongside stock photos of green arrows for show and little substance. Now, they mean something.
A facilities manager’s core job is to maintain and run a building to optimum efficiency, all the while balancing that with the comfort of occupants, and of course meeting all national and state legal requirements. Now ‘being green’ has become a key part of the job. Waste disposal, recycling, energy consumption and paperless office targets are now under the remit of most facilities managers. Modern new building projects such as the Barangaroo Towers and 200 George are a facilities manager’s dream. These stunning buildings come with the latest technology and monitoring systems, which run these buildings of the future and monitor efficiency right down to the tiniest detail. But, what happens when the building a facility manager runs is an old workhorse from the 70’s or 80’s, with shared tenants and dated equipment?
It has become necessary for facilities managers to upskill and seek out ways to reduce emissions and carbon footprint, no matter what kind of building they manage. No longer are facilities managers relegated to the basement or the broom cupboard. Now, they are brought in to advise managers across departments on all manner of developments and initiatives such as company culture, comfort, ergonomics, lighting and outdoor spaces. Australian businesses today need to be an employer of choice to attract and recruit top talent, and as such compete against each other to recruit the best of the best. Awards such as the BRW Great Places To Work are a testament to the shift in work spaces and the benefits required. Long gone are the days where you brought in your own biscuits and wore a coat if the air-con broke. However, if you aren’t lucky enough to work in a state of the art building, there is still plenty you can achieve. Working with an older, more dated building doesn’t mean you need to be stuck in the past. The shell may be a part of history and have a questionable 70’s aesthetic, but the inside, with the use of innovative design and upgrade of essential equipment, can create a contemporary work environment.
There is a broad spectrum of ever changing technology which is becoming mainstream; BMS systems, facilities management tools, and energy monitoring systems are all becoming ‘the norm’. Facilities and building managers must keep up to date with technological and industry advances if they are to make their mark in the facilities game.
This may seem like more and more pressure is being placed on building and facilities managers, and it may feel that the role is being stretched beyond recognition. But, innovative technology can bring great insights and analysis. Energy monitoring enables managers to spot patterns where there may be issues, or uncover an unnecessary drain on energy. These reports also deliver measurable results to owners and managers, justifying and presenting results of the usually ‘unseen’ work that facilities managers provide.
Sam Fairweather, Owner of HPA Group, a leading importer and distributor of washroom, hygiene, janitorial and cleaning equipment says “Focus on sustainability and hygiene has seen a noticeable shift in sales. Customers are willing to pay a little more upfront with a long term view on environment and hygiene as well as the bottom line. The Veltia Tri-Blade has become a market leader and one of our largest selling hand dryers due to its world first Ionshield technology. It has become one of the most hygienic and environmentally friendly hand dryers on the market.”
What are the Top 3 Environmental Focuses for Facilities Managers Today?
Australians are one of the biggest consumers in the world per capita. All building managers should be thinking about what they buy, what they use, and how it’s disposed of. Would a hand dryer be better than paper towels? Are your cleaners diligent with recycling? Could a print on demand option for photocopiers stop reams of wasted paper and expensive toner costs? Such news items as the recent 4Corners report which lifts the lid on recycling and waste within Australian only shines the spotlight further on ethical and green commercial practices.
Electricity, in particular, is skyrocketing in cost and is a hot topic frequently hitting news agencies. Are you getting the best deal? Is your account manager working for you? Are there unnecessary drains on your supply?
Energy monitoring is a booming industry, particularly for larger buildings with huge outputs. Energy monitoring companies do exactly what they say they are going to do. They attend your site, link in with your building management system, look at your bills, and find out where efficiencies can be made. Some even guarantee savings within 3-5 years. There could be a faulty meter, or a chiller running overtime which you would never have discovered. They can also recommend CBUs timers for your building lights, and suggest adjustments to your air conditioner units and chillers. The smallest adjustment can bring visible savings.
Singapore is actively ‘greening’ buildings, and it looks like Australia is beginning to follow suit. It’s certainly time for the facilities industry to take stock of current building targets and deliverables to see where they can start hitting some green targets and reducing waste. It’s no longer about just ticking a box. The bigger picture for the Australian facilities industry is to strive for improvement, regulation and sustainability for the state and national environment in all commercial buildings and eventually it will become commonplace for all facilities managers.
PR – HPA Group