Open-access content 6th October 2008
15 May 2008
With crude oil topping $120 a barrel, FMs need to make sure the marketplace is giving them the most effective and efficient technology. But services engineers need FMs to work with them to improve systems. That was a major theme running through the annual conference of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (Cibse) in Newcastle.
Since 1 April FMs required an energy performance certificate (EPC) for their building to establish the structure's potential ability to efficiently use energy. Only building services engineers who have been through an assessor-training programme such as offered by Cibse can deliver an EPC. This is also true as of this 1 October for a display energy certificate (DEC) for a public authority's building. Assessors need data to which in most cases the FM has access - floor space, energy costs over time, age and type of equipment installed and any upgrades.
To this end, Mike Malina, founder of Energy Solutions Associates, called for "continuous commissioning" of a building. The FM and services engineer must work past that point where they might have been involved when for up to a year after a new building hand-over they monitored the use of a building's equipment.
Malina suggested a "name-and-shame" list be made public that, for example, lists buildings that leave internal lights throughout the night. Services engineers can use technology such as thermal imaging to discovery where buildings leak heat, from poorly constructed doorframes and windows to deteriorating facades. But most importantly, they can help maintenance staff know more about the equipment that they use daily so savings can be made.
Such cooperation can be part of a so-called "green lease", what Becky Warren of legal firm Eversheds said is akin to a unicorn: "We all know what a green lease should look like in theory, but has anyone ever seen it? There is no consensus of exactly what should go into one."
In theory, a green lease spells out cooperation between an occupier and the landlord to minimise the building's environmental footprint. Like any good contract, she explained, it should set up a joint management structure to carry this out with specific responsibilities for specific people.
Despite all the talk by FMs of how they can and should improve sustainability, there is still some confusion of who owns the role of head of sustainability in an organisation. This makes its difficult for a building services firm putting out feelers for cooperation. "Who do they talk to?" asked Sunil Shah head of sustainability at Jacobs. "Is it HR, FM or finance, or do we need a separate sustainability manager?"
Shah urged FMs to step up to the plate because only they have cross-functional access to people and the information they hold regarding a building's performance. FMs should work with services engineers, but he warned against quick wins from short-term contracts up to three years. Sustainability is a strategy and as such should be long term, stretching up to ten or even 15 years. This allows landlords to recoup the cost of any new services systems. Also, services firms have sufficient time to monitor and develop increasingly efficient systems based on long-term occupier use.
A warning against spending millions on "green bling" - retrofit equipment that claims to enable savings - was made by Bill Wright, corporate energy and environment manager at John Lewis Partnership. Wright, who buys around £40 million of energy annually for their 26 stores and 187 supermarkets, told delegates to do their sums. He is on target to make 25 per cent cut in energy costs by 2013 based on a 2008 base. But they have had to invest heavily in more efficient equipment such as chillers for supermarkets.
But no matter how good the co-operation is between FM and services engineers to improve equipment, a major influence on energy consumption remains the human factor. Employees instinctively know that turning off lights saves money, he said. What they often lack is an incentive to make energy reduction personal, he told delegates.
At John Lewis all 67,000 employees are shareholders and their annual bonuses are based on the collective performance. Notices that read, "Switch off, you're burning our bonuses" has worked wonders.