A perfect match: Energy efficiency and facility management
By Archita Datta Majumdar

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The first phase of facility management was integrating all components of managing a larger infrastructure — be it a residential complex or a commercial building — and offering managed services so occupants can live or work in a smooth and comfortable environment. Once the idea was ingrained in everyone's mind, hiring professionals to undertake facility management functions was not new concept anymore. It became a necessary expense that had to be included in the overall budget.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Which aspect of energy efficiency is most important?
  • 1. Lighting
  • 2. Water
  • 3. Tenant space
  • 4. Submetering
  • 5. Sustainable standards

With this acceptance came the need to improve services and offer better facilities and comfort to the end user. The next phase is therefore poised to make even more of a difference to our lives with energy-efficient services to make the entire facility management operation greener, as well as cheaper.

Here is a look at five facility management areas that can benefit from energy efficiency:

1. Lighting

One of the best ways to ensure optimum power savings and an energy efficient infrastructure is to focus on lighting systems that will use less power than the outdated systems that have been operating for so long. Emerging technologies are all poised to develop retrofit lightings that offer increased opportunity for savings by using much less energy than the older models.

Lighting systems include various light sources like lamps, tube lights, ballasts and luminaires, among others. A key action for facility managers is to inspect the premises and assess exact needs so the new installations service the facility efficiently without being superfluous or adding to unnecessary expenditure.

2. Water

Focusing on maximum water conservation is of utmost priority for facility managers today. The big aim is of course to reduce the monthly/annual water bill and increase the bottom line. Facility manager must assess existing plumbing structures and install low-flow devices on showers, sinks, taps and toilets.

In larger estates reclaimed water, in the form of air handling condenser water, is recycled and used for cooling towers, thereby leading to massive savings. The use of rain sensors and using reclaimed water to irrigate the plants and fields of the property has also helped to save on maintenance budgets and contribute to healthy energy saving efforts.

3. Tenant space

For larger apartment complexes, facility management entails devising energy-efficient solutions for tenants as well as the holding company. The two must go hand-in-hand to ensure maximum savings. Energy-start ratings mean that the entire building is green in terms of lighting, water usage and management, as well as efficient garbage disposal.

Tenants who positively participate in these efforts are even rewarded with discounts and further savings on their lease expenses. In many cases, environmentally conscious tenants specifically ask realtors to show them properties that prioritize and are known for their superior energy performance.

4. Submetering

The use of submetering in recent times has greatly changed the way facility managers control and use the resources in the premises/property. Instead of a single device to track total energy use, facility management firms are opting for submetering to track and accurately manage utility costs for various sections within the property.

Now it is easier for them to see which areas consume more power than the rest and apply better energy-efficient devices here instead of changing the entire lot and incurring heavy expenses. Power submetering allows precision data-collection methods that track utility moves and evaluate performances to help identify problems easily, schedule corrective actions and apply better energy-conservation opportunities.

This tracking system also allows submeters to alert technicians and facility managers about impending component failures so disasters can be prevented in time. Assessment and alternating loads between the various utilities lead to eliminating spikes, improving bottom line and adding positively to the facility's overall energy footprint.

5. Sustainable standards

The key focus of all facility managers today is optimum energy efficiency and savings through the establishment of sustainable standards that will allow them to reap greater benefits in the long run. Contrary to public opinion, facility management is not just meant for existing buildings but starts right at the onset when these buildings are planned.

Starting from eco-friendly material management to installing energy-efficient devices at every step, effective facility management means constant checks and inspections to ensure maximum savings and optimum performances. It is only with these features in place and sustainable practices that the concept of a green building can be a reality.

Archita Datta Majumdar has been writing for various industries for more than 14 years. She has contributed articles to The Economic Times, the leading financial daily of India, and she loves research, business analysis and knowledge management, which paves the way for a steep learning curve.