Because of the extreme climate change that we’re facing, we need to make changes in our way of doing business. Buildings in general have a huge impact on CO2 emissions and energy use. Therefore, sustainability is a trend that has become more and more “popular” in the facilities management industry over the last couple of years. As Facility Managers we can (and have to) contribute to a smaller footprint.
Sustainability strategies are often used for image building, but it actually decreases your footprint and it can also save you serious money if you use the right approach. Also, some companies or countries don’t have much of a choice, since the laws are getting stricter every day. With this blog, we want to inspire you to do your part and start with easy adjustments to help your company to become more sustainable.
A sustainable building
The first step towards a more sustainable business is to take a good look at the building that you’re in. You can really make some straightforward and easy adjustments in two seconds. First important question: is the building your own property? And if not, to what extent can you make changes to the property with or without approval of the owner of the building? With that in mind, you should be able to make the following (small) adjustments:
Check if your building has enough insulation. If the building is not insulated, a lot of energy to heat of cool the building gets wasted. This waste of energy is horrible for the environment since more energy needs to be produced and more emissions will be generated by the production of this energy. Plus, it also costs you a ton of money. There’s often especially room for improvement with older buildings that have worse insulation than buildings that are being built today.
2. Save energy on lights.
Use as much natural lights as possible in your workspace floor lay-out, also because natural light is healthier for your employees. If the use of natural lights is not enough or not possible try using movement-sensors that turn the lights on and off if there is nobody in the room. Again, especially for older buildings, this can make a huge difference in itself. Also, make sure to use led lighting.
3. Use solar energy.
Solar panels have an average payback period of 7 years and are more of a long-term improvement. Especially if you own the building, this could be a smart investment. Solar panels are not only for saving money but also for producing and using a greener energy source. Remember that 36% of all energy is used by buildings so by using solar energy you’re able to make an effort to decrease that number.
Raising awareness amongst employees is a crucial thing when you want your business to become more sustainable. When employees do not feel the urgency to adjust their behavior as well, impact on the environment is not as big as it could be. Example: you might want to urge people to turn off the lights or use less water or paper. So, raise awareness and engage with the different teams. How do you do that?
1. Make it easy for your employees.
The easier it is the better they will cooperate. For example: if you want your employees to separate trash, make sure to have trash bins for every different waste stream at every floor. Or put up fun and colorful banners or posters as a reminder to turn off monitors and computers whenever they’re not used.
2. Set up a GreenTeam.
A GreenTeam can consist of people from different departments and floors. The team meets to discuss goals and achievements and can work on the changes that need to be made to achieve the goals. In that way, the sustainability strategy comes to life throughout the organizations. Also, sustainability efforts not always lead to saving energy. It can also mean giving back to the city or community where you are located for example. Incorporate the social aspect of sustainability too, to make people feel more engaged!
3. Explain the reason behind your plans.
For most people, the actual changes don’t matter but they often want to know why the company is making these changes. That is why it is important to take employees by the hand and tell them what you are changing and with what reason. Providing information often leads to understanding, accepting and supporting decisions that are made.
You might read this and think: “we do not have the resources to do that.” Of course, it will take time and money to realise the above stated improvements. Which is why we also have some quick wins for the short term that might cost a little less of your time and money. These improvements seem small, but a lot of small improvements together can have a big impact too.
1. Use reusable items.
Coffee cups and water bottles etc. can all be replaced by a personal reusable product for every employee. This will reduce the amount of waste your office produces, and this improvement has a direct impact on your footprint.
2. Reward employees that travel by public transport or bike.
You can set up a program to buy a new bike or free traveling tickets for employees that travels by public transport or bike. This will make them rethink their choice of going by car and motivate more people to choose an alternative.
3. Set up and promote a “no-paper for a week” campaign.
If this campaign is successful you can use it to show people that the use of paper is not that necessary for your office. Then, you can slowly but surely trim down the overall use of paper. Another trick that always works: put the printer in an uncomfortable spot. One of our clients has put the printer behind a “survival wall”. Looks fun, plus you will think twice to actually print something.
Can’t get enough?
If you’d like to really step it up and learn more about sustainability, or if you would like to set up your own sustainability strategy, follow our training course on sustainability here. An easy 7-step plan leading to your very own sustainability strategy. It helps you to decrease your costs and footprint right away. Any questions or more information? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org