The evolution of energy is the next big challenge for facilities managers Louis Burford, head of solution sales and UK optimisation Centrica.
ver the last decade, energy management has become a more prominent part of the job description for facilities managers. In many of the businesses we work with, we’re seeing the role expand to include management and even procurement of energy, so FMs are having to adapt quickly to this additional responsibility. As if that wasn’t enough, appetite for more advanced energy systems is increasing, adding an extra layer to the challenge that FMs face. As businesses seek to become more intelligent about their energy use, it’s facilities managers that will be charged with spearheading projects to not only reduce consumption but to make the energy they use more sustainable.
The challenge We recently polled 200 large businesses from across the UK and found that almost 90 per cent expect that half of their energy requirements will be fulfilled by local or renewable sources by 2025. On top of this, 80 per cent expected at least a quarter of their total energy need to be generated on-site by the same deadline. 12
If the predictions our survey uncovered are realised, it’s likely that the emissions targets set for businesses by the government’s Clean Growth Plan will be met considerably earlier than expected. In fact, more than a quarter of the businesses we surveyed had already invested in some form of onsite power generation and another third said they were considering it. Clearly, firms are not only acknowledging the need to approach energy consumption in a more sustainable way but are also actively exploring the methods that will achieve their goals. This will have obvious environmental benefits, but a more strategic approach to energy will also be vital to maintaining businesses’ competitiveness. Most (86 per cent) of the businesses in our survey said they expected ‘energy-ethical’ behaviour/operations to become essential to their future brand identity, with many already proactively changing how they use energy to attract customers. As more businesses recognise the strategic value of ‘better’ energy use, pressure to implement new technology that can increase efficiency and reduce emissions will mount.
So, what approaches are businesses taking and which will suit yours best? A lot of organisations have already made significant headway on reducing energy costs. Competitive procurement processes mean that the savviest companies are already getting the best price they can from the market. Moving beyond procurement efficiencies, there are real gains to be made in bringing down usage and investing in onsite generation and storage. A vital first step is identifying what business systems would benefit from new energy technology – it’s crucial that investment is channeled intelligently in a way that lines up with the organisation’s energy needs as well as its wider business objectives.
Insight to action As with any major project, metrics and success benchmarks need to be set. Implementing a more advanced energy system is no different. To that end, energy insight is an absolute must. Sub-metering is sometimes used as a way of tracking how energy is used by different processes in an
Building & Facilities Management – January 2019