Sustainability is one of the global key issues for today’s real estate markets and urban property developments but over time it has proven to be a challenge owing to the fact that the real estate sector has a serious impact on climate change.
Buildings account for around one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 40% of the world’s energy. With so many complex issues involved, the progress being made by the real estate industry to increase sustainability in facility management appears to be too slow in many cases. This demands immediate intervention and potential solutions are needed to manage the impact of real estate on climate change.
Incorporating sustainability into facility management would not be as easy as it seems, as there are certain challenges that would pose as a barrier. However, some advanced methods have been discovered to tackle sustainability in facility management which will reduce energy, water, and waste in the maintenance and operation of buildings.
Role of Real Estate in Sustainable Facility Management
There is a growing recognition that the design and operational delivery of buildings
can affect productivity, hence, it is critical for new builds and existing properties to get this right.
To achieve sustainability, we must carefully take into consideration the development phase of planning, designing, constructing, renovating, operating, and demolishing a building and how the building can be adapted to fit with the purpose of its users, including optimizing its resources during its life cycle.
There is also a need to intensify the work of developing methods for reaching a sustainable development of urban and built-up areas, if not in the near future, when the construction process faces new demands, we won’t be able to evaluate the success of how these demands are met.
Integrating sustainable practices in the construction process of a building is understandable; however, how do these practices remain implemented after the construction process? How is sustainability to be quantified in the phase of use? Which measures are practicable to be taken in daily routines to manage sustainability in building operation and maintenance?
Use Energy-Efficient Equipment and Systems: Sustainability can be achieved through the incorporation of effective eco-friendly equipment. For example, energy efficiency equipment. Investing in energy-efficient lighting solutions is one way to improve a facility’s energy consumption. Incorporating light sensors to automatically turn on/off light in the building based on the presence/absence of people, is one way to save energy and in turn cut lighting costs by up to 30 percent.
Another aspect to pay close attention to is the heating and cooling systems, by using HVAC equipment such as boilers and chillers, there is a high possibility that there would be an energy consumption of about 40%. However, making a total optimization of these systems can drastically increase energy efficiency. HVAC optimization involves tracking the performance of each system component and deploying instrumentation like flow meters, power meters, and temperature sensors to facilitate measurement, validation, and real-time control decisions.
Water Management in Commercial and Institutional Facilities: Water conservation lies at the crux of sustainability. In order to ensure the earth is preserved one must ensure that the natural resources are available for all and this will only happen when we become more conscious of our lifestyle, wastage, and consumption patterns. One way for facility managers to make facilities sustainable is by conserving tap and rainwater. In order to achieve this, appropriate water-efficient strategies need to be implemented.
By curbing water wastage or overuse in your facility, you can achieve your environmental sustainability goals, such as: Reducing operational costs by saving water, minimizing energy costs associated with heating water, reducing your facility’s carbon footprint, attaining green certifications.
Green Real Estate: Green real estate is a new form of development that seeks to reduce the negative impact of real estate construction on the environment and society. The construction
of green real estate needs to achieve the existing goals of environmental protection, energy
conservation, and emission reduction; it needs to offer environmental utility and keep a
high quality of living experience. It also needs to offer social utility, which involves the use
of green building materials, the upgrading of public service facilities, and the optimization
of management and operation models, all of which will entail increased costs.
How Can We Drive Success in Facility Management?
Environmental protection includes the promotion, enhancement, and protection of the environment. The movement towards zero-carbon solutions and circular economy will take time, but simple steps can be taken to develop projects that consider environmental performance. The key for this area is the management of risks and the disclosure of progress.
People need to have varied experiences to share information about building management and all the interconnecting pieces of a working environment. Managing the building as a whole will help to improve customer service, but it also reduces environmental impact and maintains the sustainability performance of the building.
In the near future, the real estate industry needs to consider an increase of regulatory pressures on their operations, such as carbon accounting to satisfy the demand of investors and tenants.
Driving success using these approaches will require global collaboration from government and industry professionals. When it comes to the environment, the decisions we make today have a long-term impact on the health of our planet.\
Story By: Noah Ibrahim