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SMB Sustainability Starts with Empowered Facilities Managers

Jun 8, 2023 | Public | 0 comments

Virtually every business has a carbon footprint, and with that the responsibility to understand its effect on the environment and all the entities with which it interacts. While climate action is often associated with the largest corporations, the fact is that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) make up almost 90% of global enterprises. Their individual carbon footprints are smaller, but their potential collective impact in reducing climate warming is immense.

As companies of all sizes pivot to greener goals and practices, facilities managers for SMBs are expected to wear multiple hats, including those of sustainability leaders. For broad impact, good carbon accounting tools must become democratized. Wide access to modern carbon reporting management tools is a necessity within our integrated economy. Facilities managers for SMBs, for example, are traditionally tasked with managing energy for their organizations, but many of them are still working out of manual spreadsheets, which are prone to human error and are extremely time-intensive.

SMB facilities managers also grapple with different challenges than those operating in larger enterprises. For one, they might not have the luxury of big operating budgets or specialized teams to deploy to concurrent sustainable initiatives. While there are specific skills and knowledge required to tackle the complexities of carbon accounting and energy management, SMB facilities managers also benefit from working in leaner, more agile companies. They have an opportunity to be bold as they find ways to reduce energy and resource waste.

The most vital step in beginning a sustainability program is to thoroughly measure current conditions. Anything that can be measured and tracked, should be. If it’s measured, it can be managed.

How much energy is used in a typical 24-hour cycle? Where are the outliers? Is there a mix of fossil fuels and renewable sources, and how are these energy sources allocated? Do lights and HVAC systems need to be manually adjusted? Are employees adjusting HVACs in collaboration with the facilities managers?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of factors that affect energy consumption in a business. Manually compiling and updating them through spreadsheets is a herculean effort for any facilities team. Fortunately, facilities managers for businesses of any size can access modern technological tools—the U.S. Department of Energy provides a list of free or low-cost tools, for example. Google and other large corporations are offering free calculators specifically designed for SMBs to help them understand their carbon footprints. These tools can help companies calculate their greenhouse gas emissions and create practical targets for reduction.

Within a facility, digital solutions simplify the data collection process, monitor real-time conditions, and can be set to act autonomously as these conditions change. Automating carbon accounting brings all the energy factors into one platform, centralizing emissions, waste, water, and energy data. Facilities managers can monitor and share the data and report on successful reduction processes, drawing more resources for further innovation.

As climate disruption becomes more evident, facilities managers for SMBs have an important role in protecting their business’s assets and building climate resilience. Facilities managers with an eye to the future can integrate technology that will help their organizations meet value chain expectations and benefit from the documented time- and cost-savings of greener practices.

And SMBs are stepping up to meet the challenge. Nearly 6,000 have committed to Net Zero by 2050 through the United Nations Climate Hub Initiative. They’re also motivated to understand and reduce carbon use because of public discourse and regulatory actions. The same motivators are spurring large public corporations to parse their Scope 3 emissions, which are the greenhouse gas calculations associated with vendors and others in their value chains. It’s becoming clear that SMBs need to weigh their companies’ environmental scores too.

Andrew Blauvelt is senior product director of Atrius at Acuity Brands.

The post SMB Sustainability Starts with Empowered Facilities Managers appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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