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Sustainability to Drive Facilities Management Innovation


The typical argument for outsourcing facilities management (FM) is usually around helping clients to save costs. Increasingly, that argument is giving way to a higher order. The value of outsourcing being bandied about is around how services providers are able to provide value to the client in terms of charting strategic goals by being a long term partner and advisor. Cost, although still a major factor in deciding on one service provider over another, is also weighed against the ability of the service provider to align with the clients in terms of culture and values.

Sustainability in Singapore Real Estate

Sustainability is an area where clients are increasingly encouraged to make a key item on their corporate agenda because of the premium that Singapore places on environmental protection. Regulations by Singapore authorities aside, there’s mounting pressure now for companies to be a corporate responsible citizen. Sustainability lobby groups and interest groups expect it of large global companies. Talent, particularly millennials, are attracted to work at organisations where environmental sustainability is a priority.

The pursuit of carbon neutrality and other sustainability goals present tremendous opportunities for innovation in the FM space. Take energy usage for example. Organisations now have the ability to make decisions around energy efficiencies at an earlier stage of a building’s life cycle. They can now choose which energy service provider to get and in so doing, exercise fuller control of how much savings they want to achieve through a rigorous process of energy usage monitoring.

How Innovative Energy Solutions Empower FM

Innovative energy monitoring solutions enable property owners to monitor usage levels 24/7 and call out at any time how energy levels are tracking. Energy dashboards have the ability to capture energy usage data across multiple buildings. This way, building owners have better control over the outcomes they want to achieve in terms of energy savings. They can work with service providers to decide on targets for energy usage and savings, devising a strategy to achieve those targets and knowing exactly how these strategies will map out on the balance sheet.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way machines talk to one another. Chiller portals monitoring air con usage are now programmed to auto correct when temperature levels are too high. The data on energy usage levels that is being collected real time 24/7 provides a rich amount of trends analytics that will go towards anticipating system faults ahead of time, before they even surface. IoT is set out to self-correct these faults so that the quality of the environment is maintained at a steady state, minimising the chances of a breakdown. This is critical for property owners who compete to lure global brands to set up shop in their office buildings at premium rents.

Looking Ahead

If we’re looking to raise the bar, FM innovations should be setting its sights on helping companies support a zero-waste economy. Recycling waste materials is trending, largely because of a sharing economy that is maturing rapidly. Back in 2014, Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research launched an experimental power grid centre on Jurong island to channel heat that is generated to power the air conditioning system. In a more recent development, Capitaland built a wind scoop at its Grade A development, CapitaGreen, to draw the cooler and cleaner air at the roof of the building and direct it into an inner duct to supply fresh cool air to the air conditioning system.

At this pace of experimentation, the FM industry is hard pressed to level up in skills and innovation to help building owners rise to the challenge of achieving sustainable goals.

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