19 May 2016 | Adam Leach
FMs don't have it easy with energy use in the office.
As Caught In The Middle: The Role Of Facilities Manager Organisational Energy Use, concluded, they sit at the intersection of three conflicting rationales. First, with energy as a cost that should be minimised, second, as a currency of comfort, and third, as an invisible driving force of operations.
Essentially, it is the facilities manager's job to please the bookkeeper counting its cost, the office worker who forgot to bring a sweater, and the machinists told to increase output, all at once.
But, as the authors of the report found and others support, FMs can still have a 'considerable impact' on lowering energy consumption.
Fresh from acquiring the energy behaviour consultancy RUMM last year, Big Six supplier Npower has targeted shaving £1 billion off its corporate customers' bills in 2016, with an average saving of 9 per cent for firms.
Behaviour change has also caught the attention of government, with energy secretary Amber Rudd and Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth backing the 'win-win' of behavioural change with an Energy Managers Association award.
Companies are starting to cotton on as well.
The Ambassador Theatre Group's Project Blackout, which won the award last year, saw its overnight energy use slashed by 15 per cent across its 38-theatre estate.
Instigated by Juliet Hayes, safety and environment adviser at the group, the project started out with late-night torchlit visits around the most energy-intensive theatres to identify what was being left on. It ended with monthly reports on excesses and encouragement to each staff member to monitor their own use, while incentivising it through putting the savings back into enhancing productions on stage.
As a double-digit example of saving simply by showing the opportunities, it highlights the huge scope of opportunity.
In addition to opting for more efficient lighting and fans in its premises, restaurant chain Nando's is gamifying individual energy use by staff to drive efficiency.
Comparing each restaurant's usage against the year before, the company compiles league tables on savings and offers rewards to those that top it. Project lead Julie Allen explained that the benefits of this approach are already being seen.
"We've had some poorly performing restaurants perform U-turns because it's reflected on their profits and losses, which is something that they understand."
So, despite the conflicting rationales, the middle-men FMs can indeed make sterling contributions both to bottom lines and behaviours.