In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the impacts of climate change, presented a major hazard on buildings. As temperatures change, so must the way in which constructions are designed. This shift has also had a huge effect on energy efficiency within buildings. Therefore, it is no surprise that the most common complaint in the office, relates to the temperature. To name a few, infrastructures must be adapted in terms of energy control, water usage, lighting, ventilation and insultation. With these adjustments, buildings can then better cope with the new, arising conditions. This is where sustainable facilities management can help, to ensure facilities are eco-friendly.

The Main Impacts of Climate Change

  1. Global warming
    Some places are experiencing longer and more frequent heatwaves. This is decreasing the thermal ability of insulation within infrastructures. Ultimately, this means changes are required, facilitating air conditioning systems to run for longer.
  2. Extreme weather
    Rising temperatures do not solely relate to increased heat. It also brings about stronger winds and storms. This is especially a cause for concern, for buildings located in places with rising sea levels. Durability of building materials must also be given careful consideration. For instance, hotter temperatures can impact the strength of setting concrete.
  3. Drought
    As temperatures increase, more water evaporates into the air. Therefore, water scarcity is becoming an issue, with shortages and compromised quality transpiring. Buildings must be designed in a way which establishes an ideal balance between their water use and release.
  4. Air quality
    Climate change affects air quality, as it increases harmful pollutants and allergens in the atmosphere. This is a big problem because poor ventilation in buildings becomes a health hazard for employees and visitors.

Looking to a Sustainable Future

Carbon emissions in the construction sector could double or triple by 2050. Therefore, going green is necessary for a sustainable future. This can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Insulation

In summer 2018 alone, it was reported that fatalities spiked during the UK’s heatwave. Therefore, overheating in buildings is a cause for concern when it comes to employees and visitor’s health. Heating is said to cause 10% of the nation’s carbon footprint. So, investing in technologies which ensure a more energy efficient infrastructure, and a greener future is crucial. Incorporating passive design elements is something to be considered. This is because they work to minimise, the need for heating in winter and air-conditioning in summer. Another way to prevent heat from escaping is to ensure the windows in a building are fully insulated. This can be achieved through double-glazing.

  1. Water
    Collecting rainwater has many benefits. For example, it can be utilised to flush the toilets within facilities, as well as reducing the mains water use. Plus, it also contributes to minimising flood risks. As mentioned before, rising sea levels, hand in hand with stronger winds and storms are pressing issues. When designing a building near the sea, it must be built higher off the ground to combat this problem.Consider implementing touch-free faucets. They work to keep water running, only when someone’s hands are beneath it. Its main advantage is that it stops faucets from being left to run, for longer than intended. Incorporating a closed loop water system, as well as recycling water, also reduces usage significantly. It is important to maintain the upkeep of water drainage structures. Make sure they are always clean and unblocked. This is so as much water as possible can flow away from the building.
  2. Lighting
    Ensuring your facility uses daylight to its absolute maximum is essential in becoming more sustainable. Other than that, energy-efficient lightbulbs such as LEDs are a great investment. They nearly use 90% less energy than a traditional incandescent, as well as lasting up to 25 years. Implementing sensors are also a great solution to conserve energy. This is because they only operate when a room is occupied.
    With efficient lighting solutions, your business will be enabled to better understand its energy requirements.
  3. Energy reduction
    Becoming more energy efficient is one way to decelerate climate change.
    The United Nations Environment Program reported that yearly, buildings are responsible for 36% of global energy use and 39% of CO2 emissions. A big energy cost that many businesses overlook is standby power draw. It is the power consumed by electronics, even when they are turned off or in reserve mode. Sound systems, computers and telephones are a few examples of appliances which utilise standby power. It can cost your organisation a lot of money! One way to prevent this is to fit automatic shutdown sockets. They use infrared sensors or timers, to switch off power in an unoccupied room, or appliances that are not in use.It is no surprise that buildings need a lot of energy to be able to run. Avoiding fossil fuels and turning to renewable energy significantly decreases the climate footprint. Using it for heating, hot water and electrical supply, saves carbon and feeds back into the grid. This can be done through implementing solar photovoltaic panels, which create clean electricity. Plus, the cost has become more economical in recent years, as its production process has been refined.
  4. Ventilation
    Effective ventilation is essential for good internal air quality and to assist with temperature management. Indoor air circulation can be freshened up by using a Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS). It utilises a cycle of filters, which purifies the air as it enters a building. This ensures employees and visitors have a healthy and comfortable environment surrounding them.

What is Sustainable Facilities Management?

For a greener future, a facilities management plan is essential. At MSL, we can help minimise the risk from climate change against your business. We recognise that keeping facilities functional and optimal is a requirement now more than ever. Unsustainable practices often transpire into bigger problems later down the line. Our team of experts provide the highest standard of sustainable facilities management. Not only can good facilities management help with the challenges of climate change, but it could also reduce your running costs. Here are just a few ways in which we can do this:

Sustainable building maintenance is crucial, for lowering our bearing on the climate, and the consumption rate of natural resources. At the end of the day, creating a building that is eco-friendly is everyone’s responsibility. Whether it is the architects designing the building, the construction team or building managers, everyone has a part to play in our sustainable future. At MSL, our facilities maintenance teams can help to support this endeavour with ongoing planned and reactive maintenance support.

If you want more information on how MSL can help, call us on 0333 1234 450.