FM Actions to Address Climate Change Bring Bottom-Line Benefits

With retreat at the federal level, the role of facility managers in tackling the challenge of climate change has never been greater, as Greg Zimmerman’s cover story makes clear.  Fortunately, the actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also bring other significant benefits that can help facility managers win funding for steps to reduce those emission.

The most familiar benefit is also the most important for justifying specific actions: saving money by improving energy efficiency. Facility managers have a growing range of options for reducing energy consumption. Innovative technology, notably Building Internet of Things tools, uses data to find and address energy waste. Fresh approaches to planning upgrades can make it easier to win funding. Utility incentives can improve the returns on energy upgrades, and a range of financial strategies can help overcome hurdles to investments in those upgrades. And new technologies and design thinking are making net-zero energy a realistic goal for a growing number of projects, while deep energy retrofits are becoming an option for existing buildings.

When budgets are tight or top management is skeptical about paybacks from efficiency improvements, many low- or no-cost steps to improve operations can be taken. Getting occupants involved in energy efficiency efforts is another economical way to cut both emissions and costs.

Climate action also has indirect impacts that can help justify funding for projects. Resilience is a noteworthy example. Onsite renewable energy generation can help a building stay open for business when power is out. And the less energy a facility uses, the more it can do with the power available from onsite sources, including generators.

Climate action and other sustainable strategies also offer marketing advantages. A green image can help attract customers, talent — even investors. Sustainability has become so important to the latter that mutual fund rater Morningstar now ranks funds for sustainability.

The impacts of climate change will only become more apparent as time goes on, and the importance of reducing emissions will only rise. As organizations increase sustainability efforts, being able to show what you did to reduce facility-related emissions may produce a final bottom-line benefit — for your career.