Energy efficiency in facilities management

Energy efficiency in facilities management

One of the aspects that quickly becomes apparent when speaking to anyone involved in the running of facilities is the long list of topics that have to be considered, including both hard and soft services and often additional aspects, too.

This is a regular discussion in meetings with the PFM Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), which mainly consists of independent FMs with overall responsibility for the running of a wide range of facilities, who state the tasks they’re involved with range from a blocked toilet to the design and build or refurbishment of all types of buildings – and anything and everything in between.

However, one of the more common areas that the vast majority of FMs are involved with is that of energy efficiency, which was further confirmed by the recent survey conducted by OnePoll in association with Jaga.

Of the 250 FMs polled, nearly 97% confirmed this as ‘important’, while 25% said it was their most important factor, alongside low running costs. Compliance is one of the central aspects of all FMs’ roles and this was the case for 16% of those surveyed.

One of the more surprising results of the study was that 27% were not sure of the EPC rating of their buildings, which could mean that they may be in for an unpleasant surprise when attempting to arrange new leases, as privately rented buildings need to have an EPC of a minimum of E since the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards were introduced last year.

While the results seemed to provide further valuable support for the results of conversations with our EAB members and others up to this point, I was particularly interested to see that questions around schemes providing financial support for heating and renewable energy systems had been included and believe that this will provide food for thought for many in the industry.

Leading up to this, respondents were asked what they considered the main barriers to raising energy efficiency levels further and 45% said this was investment cost, which I initially thought would be much higher, but this was followed by inability to implement the changes by 29% and then low capital availability for 24%, which links back to the financial stumbling block referred to by many FMs during our discussions.

The study then asked questions about the Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme, all of which can provide funds that can help to reduce the cost of installations and/or reduce the all-important return on investment period.

Less than 20% were in receipt of payments from the RHI, 17% were aware but unsure if they were receiving funds and 31% of respondents were not aware of its existence, showing potential for further engagement in this area alone that could result in making renewable energy options far more attractive from a financial perspective, that could also have further positive implications for the reduction of carbon emissions.

Similar figures were also seen for engagement with the FiT in terms of awareness, with 30% stating that they had not heard of the scheme, while 19% said they were receiving payment and 33% stating they were aware but were not in receipt of funds.

Perhaps more surprising was the response that 36% of respondents had not heard of the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme and I would imagine that this is largely due to the extensive list of areas of concentration for FMs referred to at the start of this blog, providing a potential starting point for some highly relevant conversations with external companies.

Given their wide area of focus, the majority of FMs will place considerable value on their service providers in all areas and discussions over how to access the three schemes above, along with other relevant funding and grants, is something that seems to be lacking when the levels of awareness are around a third of respondents on average.

It’s often said that the FM industry is all about people and this means that professional relationships need to be carefully nurtured in all areas, which should provide further incentive for those with the ability to assist in providing advice and guidance on accessing funding from relevant industry schemes.

Assisting in the creation of sound business cases to support applications for funding for increasing energy efficiency initiatives and reducing carbon emissions will be an all-important ‘win-win’ for both sides of FM partnerships, with further potential for the future.