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How service providers can use technology to meet their sustainability goals

Organisations are under more pressure than ever before to get their Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and Sustainability initiatives right. In Europe, new rules and regulations around sustainability are solidifying in ‘the Green Deal’, leading to an increased emphasis on operating and maintaining environmentally sustainable buildings as an even more important aspect of facility management service delivery.

Similarly, in the US, more than 70% of companies admit to experiencing at least moderate pressure to act on sustainability from at least one stakeholder group, whether that’s their customers, employees, or their leadership board. In response, most organisations have developed visions and goals around sustainability, looking to their facility management (FM) service provider to support them in achieving those goals. To succeed, FM service providers will need better tools and best practices so they can measure, analyse & reduce the CO2 emissions of buildings and report on their successes.

This new urgency to aim for more sustainable buildings is accelerating the trend towards more aggressive outcome-based services as well as Facility Management-as-as-service (FMaaS) and if FM service providers can tap into these trends, they are sure to reap significant benefits. Customers, employees, and investors are demanding that sustainability challenges are met head-on. The FM service providers that achieve this will be able to deliver benefits that have an impact far beyond the environment.

The sustainability challenge

When confronted with the pressing need to address climate change and live more sustainably, most FM service providers are more than happy to play their part. However, it is easier said than done. In particular, there is a core challenge of fragmentation. For example, FM service providers will have their own sustainability targets and reporting standards to meet, as well as those of their clients. What’s more, these standards are constantly in a state of flux, shifting and adapting to new regulations & market trends. The data required to meet these varying requirements creates a lot of additional complexity for service providers to manage.

In terms of reporting on sustainability initiatives, another challenge appears. FM service providers need a strong data structure to record their sustainability metrics - whether they cover energy use, carbon emissions, water, waste, or any other measure of sustainability. FM service providers need to be able to collect relevant data, analyse it, and deliver it back to the client in a way that suits their needs - all while meeting their own internal sustainability targets. As such, the sustainability challenge of delivering data to a variety of different standards is not easy to overcome.

Leveraging a platform for proof

Although the sustainability challenges around data recording, meeting customer goals and integration are significant, there are digital solutions that can help FM service providers meet them. First and foremost, technology can provide proof that sustainability goals are being met. Today, there is a huge deal of talk around the importance of ‘going green’ - but this talk must be backed by action.

This is why a Facility Services Business Solution is absolutely critical. It allows FM service providers to gain detailed insights into facility and asset data. They can see how monitored buildings are performing, track energy consumption, conduct energy audits, analyse how facility lighting levels correspond to occupancy levels, keep track of built-in certification standards, and more. A variety of data points can be accessed, recorded and shared through a software platform like a Facility Services Business Solution.

Of course, not just any software platform is sufficient. You need one that can deliver data outputs that are relevant for your particular client services. This type of platform must boast a comprehensive suite of features for smart buildings and their operations. It should capture data from not only the building itself and any relevant sensors, but also from the interfaces being employed by the user. Integrated mobile apps are also essential, allowing ESG data to be captured via various methods - whether it’s an IoT sensor or an iPhone.

At Planon, we understand the important role that digital platforms can play in this arena. The Planon Platform and its integrated sustainability module mean we are ready to support BREEAM, LEED and other forms of building sustainability certification. With Planon, it’s easy to present data in the form of tangible sustainability achievements but also support the execution of tangible actions - for you and your client.

Working in partnership

Just as no single service provider can meet the world’s sustainable challenges on its own, at Planon, we recognise that collaboration is essential to furthering the green agenda. That’s why we have partnered with Schneider Electric - recently ranked as one of the world’s most sustainable companies - to provide the market with the tools to enable the sustainability transformation. It’s worth noting, however, that other benefits are also on offer.

A recent Frost & Sullivan report found that by 2025, data analytics will be critical not only for addressing issues around energy-saving and sustainability but also for reducing total life cycle costs and boosting business efficiency. For FM service providers, the potential gains are comparably crucial, with 89% of organisations stating that they prefer to do business with a partner that shares similar sustainability goals. Clearly, working together can be mutually beneficial for all parties - including the planet.

About the author

Peter Ankerstjerne | Chief Strategy Officer at Planon

Peter Ankerstjerne, MBA, COP, FRICS, IFMA Fellow has more than 25 years’ experience covering most aspects of FM. Having worked in various executive roles at ISS, Wework and JLL, he is now Chief Strategy Officer at Planon Software. Since 2016 he has been part of IFMA’s global Board of Directors, where he currently serves as Chair.

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