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17 January 2019
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Energy and FM

3 December 2014  

Ah, Christmas time, mistletoe and wine. Sir Cliff suggests that, “with logs on the fire and gifts on the tree, it’s time for rejoicing in all that we see”. 

Which would be nice. Except, well, it’s probably wise to hold back on those logs if you’ve any hopes of affording the gifts on the tree. At the very least there’s merit in conducting a comprehensive review of your organisation’s biomass fuel expenditure. And then, when you’ve achieved best value on the wood, you should start looking at the electricity and, crucially, gas consumption. Managed to cut your costs in half? That’s the time for rejoicing.

Why? Because the doubling of energy prices by 2020 – earlier, perhaps – is one of those jolting figures that will surely resonate in 2015 (which I note, jaw agape, is less than a month away). As the Energy Managers’ Association suggested at its EMEX event last month, when energy bills begin to exceed even rent bills, minds will surely focus as never before. Legislation on buildings’ energy efficiency ratings is one thing, the actual cost showing right away on bills is quite another.

There’s something in the proselytising vigour of the EMA’s CEO, Lord Redesdale, which just might see the issue of energy prices propelled to front of mind next year. Redesdale was a compelling figure at this year’s ThinkFM conference and he’s since done a decent job of becoming the face of business energy management issues. And of course it does no harm at all that he’s a member of the House of Lords.

Listening in on energy management professionals at the EMA’s recent EMEX event was fascinating for the déjá vu it provoked. So many EMs started out in other jobs before finding themselves in an energy management role. So many then moved swiftly into positions of influence and responsibility within their organisations. Sound familiar? Indeed, just as there are energy managers who end up in senior facilities roles there are FMs who move on to take senior energy management positions. 

There’s an obvious synergy between the two positions, which when combined with the prospect of ‘corporate fuel poverty’ might just provide another angle to focus on in the ongoing quest to define FM’s value. After all, FM can address the issues of behavourial change required to manage down fuel demand and advise on using publically available money to introduce more fuel-efficient plant.

The traditional issues of FM’s varying capabilities in all of the above need addressing, but a sharp spike in fuel costs might just mean that rather than FMs reaching up to the C-suite, it’s the C-suite reaching down to them.

So there you go, a potentially warming winter’s tale. And if you want more, there’s a BIFM Leaders’ Forum report on this very topic that will be available soon after this magazine arrives with you.

Martin Read is managing editor at FM World