FM's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Through Core Operations and Maintenance

Published on 26 Apr, 2024
Maintenance technicians looking out for energy optimization opportunities

As the focus on sustainability in the built environment amplifies, energy management is no longer a choice for facilities management (FM) companies – it's a core competency.  Clients are demanding it, regulations are pushing for it, and the bottom line for all stakeholders is primed to benefit from it.

  • Cost Savings: Reducing energy consumption translates to lower utility bills for clients, making FM companies offering these services more attractive.
  • Sustainability Demands: There's a growing focus on environmental responsibility. FM companies that demonstrate expertise in energy efficiency can help clients meet sustainability goals.
  • Regulatory Pressures: Many regions are implementing stricter energy-saving regulations. FM companies that can navigate these regulations and ensure compliance will be in high demand.

This year and beyond, leaving energy management out of the scope of work will be next to impossible. FM companies proactively incorporating energy management into their services will create a win-win situation for themselves and their clients. They'll help clients save money and meet sustainability goals while strengthening customer satisfaction and positioning themselves as leaders in the evolving energy landscape.

To make this possible, FMs must overcome key challenges and embrace transformative strategies.

Key Challenges Facing FM Energy & Sustainability Teams

Three important challenges FM Energy and Sustainability teams are grappling with:

The Vast Scope of Energy Management: From data collection and monitoring to optimization strategies, the sheer breadth of the field can be overwhelming. Without a well-defined plan, delivering a comprehensive solution becomes a struggle.

Siloed Technology Stacks: Many FM companies rely on a patchwork of software – systems of records, asset management tools, and others – that operate in isolation. This lack of integration hinders the potential of data-driven operations and inhibits a holistic approach to energy management.

The ‘Don't Fix What's Not Broken’ Mentality: Traditional O&M contracts often incentivize reactive maintenance instead of proactive energy efficiency improvements. The current structure discourages FM teams from intervening in asset operations solely for the sake of reducing energy consumption.

Driving Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Through Asset Operations and Maintenance: 7 Crucial Steps

Here's how FM companies can take charge and become leaders in this crucial space:

Implement 100% Digitization: Move beyond manual meter reading and implement a fully digitized, automated system. This not only boosts team productivity but also provides more granular data on energy consumption.

Master Monitoring and Reporting: Implement a basic system that allows for comprehensive reporting and energy monitoring at facility, asset, and location-specific levels. Integrate emission factors to understand the environmental impact of energy consumption, and set up alerts to stay within budget and target goals.

Gap Analysis and Simulations: Utilize building metadata to create simulations and generate expected consumption benchmarks. This helps identify areas for improvement and allows you to explore different energy reduction strategies.

Leverage Design Specifications and Asset Data: Integrate design specifications with asset data to better understand energy consumption patterns. This will further enhance baseline assessments and gap analysis.

Integrate with BMS: Utilize the Building Management System (BMS) to identify energy-guzzling assets that deviate from design specifications. This allows for improved control strategies and targeted interventions.

Connect with Maintenance Strategy: Integrate your CMMS data to understand the impact of maintenance cycles on energy performance. This enables proactive interventions on assets exceeding the Functional Design Specification (FDS) or expected energy consumption and also streamlines the process of implementing corrective action.

Revise the Baseline and Devise a Strategy for Renewables: Once optimization is achieved, it's time to take it to the next level. Investigate opportunities for asset lifecycle replacements, retrofits, and on-site renewable energy generation. Additionally, consider sourcing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Unifying Asset Maintenance & Energy Management: Tech Considerations for Facility Management Companies

The present energy and maintenance challenges facing your team should lead to a teardown of your current technology stack, vendors, and digital strategy. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

Evaluating Your Technology Stack:

  • Take stock of your current software stack – specifically, how well it integrates with your CMMS and systems of record.
  • Are your asset management tools integrated and do they offer energy-related assessments?
  • Look for opportunities to consolidate or upgrade your software to ensure seamless data flow and comprehensive energy management capabilities.
  • Ideally, your stack should be able to address and achieve all the steps mentioned above (from digitization to maintenance integration, lifecycle assessments, and retrofits except perhaps your renewables strategy)

Choose a Complete End-to-End Platform:

For digitally native FM companies, a comprehensive software stack that tackles core O&M tasks and encompasses the entire spectrum of energy efficiency initiatives is ideal. Such a platform would integrate data from various sources, provide better context and analytics, and improve overall efficiency. As for companies locked into existing systems, the migration path might be challenging, but the long-term benefits will outweigh the initial hurdles.

Embracing Change and Rising to the Challenge

While challenges exist and resistance to change is the most common barrier, fortunately, the tide is turning. Market sentiments and asset owner priorities increasingly align with achieving net-zero emissions and sustainable outcomes. With this shift, the final piece of the puzzle now falls into place – investing in a robust technology stack and streamlining O&M processes.

By embracing proactive strategies and investing in the right technology, FM companies can position themselves as leaders in the evolving energy and sustainability landscape. Not only will this translate to cost savings and environmental responsibility for clients, but it will also solidify your position as a trusted partner in the future of sustainable facilities management.

At Xempla, we're empowering FM teams big and small to drive superior energy efficiency and sustainability outcomes through a data-led asset operations and maintenance process.

With reliable tools for enhanced collaboration, productivity, and data-driven decision-making, our customers are enabling a more efficient and sustainable future in the built environment.

Click here to learn more about what we do, why, and how.

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