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Greener Healthier Happier How Innovation in Facilities Management Is Shaping Future Buildings

22 June 2016

The way we design and manage buildings is changing. 

Organisations are increasingly finding themselves facing the demands of a changing climate and increasingly technological workforce. The facilities management sector plays a pivotal role in helping them meet these challenges – and it is using an array of novel technologies to do so.

Here, we take a look at the ways in which innovation in facilities management is not only enabling businesses to overcome the challenges ahead, but also paving the way for future buildings that are greener, healthier and happier than ever before.

Greener Buildings

The 21st century is a time of serious environmental challenges, from dwindling fuel and food security to rising sea levels and pollution. As we outlined in greater depth in our free e-book, The ‘Convenient’ Truth About Sustainable Business: Why It Pays To Be Green, sustainable business practices are no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

Fortunately, innovation in facilities management is providing organisations with strategies that are enabling them to survive – and thrive – as we move into an uncertain future. 

  • Energy Efficiency 

By 2030, the EU wants to have cut total greenhouse gas emission levels down by 40%, compared to 1990 levels. This means that the pressure is on for organisations to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and workplaces.

Facilities management is playing a key role in this – from using Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology to design and manage more efficient buildings, to installing smart technology that identifies inefficiencies.

  • Water Efficiency

Water is another precious resource that organisations have a responsibility to use sustainably – and, as with energy, innovations such as BIM and smart technology can pave the way for more efficient water management within future buildings.

From installing eco-save systems that allow less water to be used, to filters that allow water to be reused, facilities managers have a growing collection of tools with which to manage water in an environmentally friendly way. Cannon Hygiene’s Actiflow Water Management System reduces water usage and at the same time improves hygiene, increasing washroom efficiency.  

And of course, facilities managers’ abilities to sustainably manage water do not always require new technologies. Simple changes, such as drawing up more efficient cleaning practices and schedules, can make a big difference on their own.

  • Waste Management

Another environmental challenge faced by many organisations is one of sustainable waste management. Efforts are underway both to reduce the amount of waste organisations generate, and to recycle a high proportion of any waste that is generated.

Again, facilities management can help. For example, OCS has helped NEC Birmingham achieve zero waste to landfill, diverting 59% of its waste to recyclers and 41% to energy recovery in 2014. 

We were also proud to pioneer Envirocomp – the world’s first environmentally friendly solution to nappy, sanitary and incontinence waste, which currently composts 6.8 million items annually.

Healthier Buildings

A building is often filled with people, including employees, customers and visitors. For organisations, ensuring the health and safety of these occupants is of paramount importance.

In light of this, it is hardly surprising that facilities managers are playing an increasingly important role in safeguarding the health and safety of a building’s occupants – managing everything from the provision of nutritious meals to risk evaluations.

  • Improved Hygiene

One way in which facilities managers are making future buildings healthier is through the implementation of more effective cleaning regimes – resulting in more hygienic environments and reduced risk of contagion.

At OCS, for example, we are proud to use CleanSmart™ software as part of our cleaning services – a programme that allows us to pull together data including square footage, fabric types, population densities and more in order to create an optimised cleaning schedule for our cleaning teams.

  • Safer Environments

While you can never completely eliminate all risks or hazards within a building, you can certainly reduce them. Effective facilities management is key to this – and many facilities managers are turning to novel technologies as a means to maximise the levels of safety that can be achieved.

For example, at OCS, our security staff utilise wearable technology to record and monitor any incidents. We also use the Logincident app, which empowers employees to instantly and easily record unsafe conditions and near-miss incidents at the touch of a button – reducing the risk of accidents ahead of time.

  • Nutritious Catering

Providing the workforce with healthy food choices can also make a big difference when it comes to improving a building’s environment. With technologies such as the OCS Virtual Deli ordering portal, facilities managers can provide convenience and gain feedback in order to improve choice and service delivery. 

Happier Buildings

Of course, employee wellbeing goes beyond physical health; their emotional well-being is also key to organisational success. After all, a happy and engaged employee is a productive employee.

Once again, this is an area in which innovation in facilities management has made significant inroads. 

  • Increased Comfort 

It has been scientifically proven that employees are happier and more productive when their working environment is comfortable. Factors to consider include ventilation, lighting, noise levels, population density and more. 

Even something as simple as turning the temperature up a few degrees can significantly improve employee output – in one Cornell University study, it was found that raising the temperature in an office from 20 °C to 25 °C reduced typing errors by an incredible 44%.

As we move into the future, we can expect further innovation in facilities management, as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication makes it easier than ever to optimise a building’s interior for comfort in real time.

Final Thoughts

As with other sectors, this is a time of unprecedented innovation in facilities management – the results of which look set to pave the way for greener, healthier and happier buildings. All of this is great news for organisations and businesses that want to improve their sustainability.

Interested in learning more about OCS and the cutting-edge services we provide? Visit our facilities management page, or contact our friendly team on 0844 846 7608 to request further information.


Image credit: Unsplash.