The need for Sustainability services
Offering improvement in energy efficiency as a core business proposition through introduction of new energy efficient technologies is picking up in emerging regions like India. FM service providers focused on providing soft services (washing, janitorial, gardening, landscaping, pest control, and similar services) are increasingly looking to add technical services like energy management to their service portfolios.
Also, energy expenses represent about 30% of a facility’s operating costs (excluding staffing). Therefore, implementing plans that conserve energy has become a priority for many facility owners. No wonder, FM service providers with the necessary capabilities to implement and establish proactive and predictive maintenance programs that can increase equipment life cycle and enhance energy efficiency are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of these facility owners.
Maintenaning green buildings
Maintenance of a green and intelligent building is quite complex and they have to go beyond the use of green construction materials. Green construction materials may aid in the registration and certification of a building as a Green building. However, the operations and maintenance practices should also encompass green concepts and consideration towards lessening the energy consumption and carbon footprint. For example, pesticides and fertilizers can be avoided for landscaping/gardening purposes and alternative/organic compost can be chosen over them. The corridors or the common areas of a building can be equipped with occupancy sensors so as to cut off usage of lights when no one is present in such areas. Recycle grey/kitchen/bath water for watering plants in the building. Provide additional pipelines so that treated grey water can be used for flushing purposes. Even, solid waste can be segregated at the source to enable recycling so that the burden on landfills can be reduced.
Potential of sustainability services
Sustainability based offerings such as energy management or performance contracting (PC), energy and environment audits and LEED certifications are becoming a niche profitable business with minimum competition. Currently, in the initial stages of development, energy management will witness enhanced interest among building owners as they struggle to reduce and keep tabs on operational costs. Nevertheless, the Indian market offers long-term business opportunities for FM companies, IBMS companies and ESCOs. The management of the energy footprint market is in the elementary stages of development but is endowed with both retrofit opportunities in existing and new buildings.
Challenges in the integration of sustainable maintenance practices
Lack of education or proper training of FM personnel is a major challenge in the integration of sustainable maintenance practices. With the convergence of information technology (IT) in every sphere of a building, technical know-how to adequately operate the lighting and HVAC controls, Building Management Systems (BMS) takes the center stage. Operations of advanced wastewater treatment technologies like Moving Bed Bio Reactor (MBBR) are also critical to treat grey water to the extent possible so as to reuse it. Even for building security, the market is moving towards integration of different devices like CCTV cameras, intrusion detection, access control etc. Hence, FM companies have to customize their solution offerings based on the technological penetration and generic models will fall short of offering sustainable FM services. FM companies will have to provide value added offerings such as energy management/performance contracting or co-opt with energy saving companies (ESCOs) to ensure sustainable practices are implemented.
FM trends for green intelligent buildings
As the market witnesses more penetration of information and communication technology (ICT), buildings are expected to become smarter, more intelligent, environment-friendly and energy efficient. Hence, in the future, one of the important mega trends that will drive growth is the convergence of ICT with other verticals such as environment, energy and building technology industries. With buildings becoming fully integrated and networked using wireless, web-based automation systems, energy management will become the prime focus leading to improvements in operational efficiency, optimization of energy, and demand management. Most asset owners spend over 75% of the total lifecycle costs of a building on operations and maintenance; there is an emerging business opportunity for solutions and services in energy management. It makes business sense for FM firms to understand the intricacies of fully “networked”, “converged”, and “intelligent” building solutions and identify this business as a niche opportunity beyond hard and soft services.
The way forward for FM companies
As the real estate market evolves, new capabilities have to be created for vertical integration along the FM hierarchy. Entry of large international firms into the performance contracting or energy management market is only a matter of time and this will toughen the competitive landscape for Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) as well as for Integrated Building Management System (IBMS) providers. FM companies will have to make energy management a core competency alongside the provision of hard services (elevator, HVAC, generator set maintenance, etc.) and soft services.