An Efficient Building is a Sustainable Building

Jim MacFarlane
As a key corporate resource, property assets consume significant capital and revenue expenditure.

UK central government departments, government agencies, Scottish government and local authorities have all been affected by the Comprehensive Spending Review, as policymakers seek to reduce the public sector borrowing deficit. The private sector meanwhile continues to weather reduced levels of expenditure across the financial, retail, commercial and manufacturing sectors.

Because of reduction in funding, both the public and private sectors need to make their assets work harder than ever. The property portfolio, typically representing as much as 25 to 30 per cent of overall costs, inevitably comes under scrutiny if not criticism, particularly given the historic levels of under-investment in many cases. In parallel, the sustainability agenda continues to challenge estate holders as businesses are expected to deliver the necessary reductions in emissions and waste, often with buildings. However these issues are too often sidelined and seen as impractical and/or costly. Our experience shows the need for strong business cases in the areas of energy efficiency, water and waste management and we have experienced the potential for very high returns on investment for energy efficient projects. Among our client base, however, we are finding that many organisations feel exposed in their sustainability efforts. They may be making bold CSR claims around sustainability, which need sound reinforcement to protect corporate reputation.

Because of reduction in funding, both the public and private sectors need to make their assets work harder than ever.

In the past, investment in new property or major refurbishment would be the preferred mechanism for dealing with inadequate property assets. Current financial constraints, likely to continue for some time, mean that this option is less accessible and affordable. So what can be done to protect output and business requirements within a more constrained financial landscape?

Strategic asset management planning, together with effective facilities management services, presents the ideal opportunity to address both issues. Operational efficiency, based upon a deep understanding of how support services should be delivered within a building, will contribute enormously to the effectiveness of the building in delivering a useful business environment. Proper management of space, its use, the logistics of materials handling (inbound and outbound logistics) and, very importantly, the specification procurement and management of maintenance and operational services can contribute enormously towards the efficiency of buildings.

An efficient building is one where the space is available when required and suitable for its business purpose; this means a backdrop of inefficient and wasteful secured with associated costs in heating and lighting. In addition the sensible specification and procurement of effective services will result in less input cost and fewer resources being expended needlessly.

A recent energy audit conducted on a client’s headquarters building released energy savings of £500,000 per annum through revised maintenance practice.

These strategic asset management activities can dovetail effectively with sustainability of buildings in use, embedding both into the business case. As well as effective and less wasteful building management, maintenance and operational practices, low-cost and no-cost environmental improvements can be identified. These lead to quick wins and to longer term improvements which help reduce operating costs, energy use, waste and carbon emissions.

A recent energy audit conducted on a client’s headquarters building released energy savings of £500,000 per annum through revised maintenance practice. The audit identified heating systems ‘fighting’ cooling as both systems were running simultaneously, and Building Management Systems having been overridden, so that the building’s main plant was operating 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. This link between effective portfolio operation and environmental performance has long been understood by Faithful+Gould’s strategic asset management and sustainability team and we have many examples of effective FM services reducing cost and improving building and environmental performance.

Faithful+Gould supports property portfolio holders in managing their assets in a sustainable way, to optimise performance and minimise expenditure. Our strategic asset management service ensures that our clients can maximise the use of their property, aligning this to their business goals. The outcome is an efficiently configured estate with well designed, efficiently procured and effectively managed services.

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