07 August, 2023 | Posted by Jenny Smith

How Does Facilities Management Affect the Environment?

How Does Facilities Management Affect the Environment?

As the world grapples with environmental concerns, the spotlight has turned towards the impact of various industries, and Facilities Management (FM) is no exception.

Facilities managers are integral in shaping the environmental footprint of organisations, influencing everything from energy consumption to waste management.

In this blog post, we delve into the environmental impacts of Facilities Management, highlighting its significant role in promoting sustainability and environmental conservation.

The Role of Facilities Management

Before diving into the environmental aspects, let's understand what Facilities Management entails. This profession encompasses the coordination of a facility's physical workplace and the people and work that happens within it. It can cover a wide range of activities, such as maintaining property and buildings, managing space usage, overseeing security systems, and managing utilities and communications infrastructure.

Energy Consumption

One of the most notable environmental impacts of Facilities Management is energy usage. Facilities managers can drastically influence an organisation's energy consumption through effective control of heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems (HVAC), lighting, and other energy-consuming machinery. Implementing energy-saving measures, such as using energy-efficient appliances, optimising HVAC systems, and transitioning to renewable energy sources, can significantly reduce a facility's carbon footprint.

Waste Management

Facilities managers are also responsible for waste management, an area with substantial environmental implications. Implementing robust recycling programs, reducing single-use items, managing hazardous waste responsibly, and finding ways to repurpose or compost organic waste can all contribute to a more sustainable and less wasteful operation.

Water Usage

Water management is another critical area under the purview of Facilities Management. From restrooms to landscape irrigation, facilities can consume significant amounts of water. However, facilities managers can mitigate this by installing low-flow fixtures, harvesting rainwater, or implementing greywater recycling systems.

Building Design and Maintenance

The design and maintenance of a facility can also affect the environment. For example, green buildings or retrofitting existing buildings with eco-friendly features like solar panels, green roofs, and insulation can significantly reduce a building's environmental impact. Moreover, regular maintenance can ensure the optimal functioning of systems, reducing unnecessary resource consumption and prolonging the life of equipment.

Promoting Sustainable Practices

Beyond tangible resource management, Facilities Management also plays a role in promoting sustainability within the organisation. This can involve educating staff about sustainable practices, implementing policies to reduce carbon emissions, or even choosing sustainable suppliers.

Procurement Policies

Procurement is a significant aspect of Facilities Management that directly impacts the environment. By adopting green procurement strategies, facilities managers can promote sustainability. This involves choosing suppliers who follow environmentally friendly practices, selecting energy-efficient equipment, and purchasing goods with minimal packaging. These decisions can drastically reduce the overall environmental footprint of a facility.

Indoor Air Quality

The indoor environmental quality of a building, which includes air quality, lighting, and thermal comfort, is another area where FM plays a crucial role. Poor indoor air quality can lead to various health problems, while energy-inefficient lighting and temperature control systems can significantly increase a facility's energy consumption. Through proper maintenance and the use of green technologies, facilities managers can improve indoor environmental quality while reducing environmental impact.

Emissions Management

Facilities managers can also help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from their buildings. This can be achieved by switching to low-carbon energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and implementing technologies like carbon capture and storage. Measures like these can help a facility reduce its contribution to global warming.

Biodiversity Conservation

Facilities Management can also impact local biodiversity, especially in the case of large facilities with significant outdoor spaces. Landscaping decisions, such as the choice of plant species, the use of pesticides, and waste disposal, can either harm or support local ecosystems. Facilities managers can contribute to biodiversity conservation by creating habitats, using native plant species, reducing pesticide use, and managing waste responsibly.

Sustainable Construction Practices

When constructing or renovating facilities, embracing sustainable construction practices can significantly reduce environmental impact. This can include using sustainable or recycled materials, minimising construction waste, and considering the building's life cycle during the design process.

Compliance with Environmental Regulations

Facilities managers must ensure compliance with all relevant environmental regulations. These could be related to waste disposal, emissions, energy use, or other aspects of the facility's operations. Compliance not only helps avoid legal penalties but also drives more sustainable practices.

The environmental impact of Facilities Management is far-reaching and encompasses various aspects of a facility's operations.

As environmental consciousness grows, the role of the facilities manager as a steward of sustainability becomes even more vital.

By making informed, environmentally-friendly decisions, facilities managers can help shape a more sustainable future.

So, the next time you walk into a building, take a moment to appreciate the behind-the-scenes work of facilities management — it's shaping our environmental future, one facility at a time.

If you are interested in studying waste management or facilities management, Portobello Institute offers a range of qualifications from short online courses to our BSc (Hons) in Workplace and Facilities Management and our MSc in Facilities Management.

Our expert advisor Brandon McLean is available to support you to choose the course that is right for you by emailing him brandon.mclean@portobelloinstitute.com, calling 01 892 0035 or booking a one-to-one consultation call.

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