Are you looking to make your building and business more sustainable but don't know where to start? Achieving long-term sustainability isn't just a trendy goal—it's a necessity. But where's your roadmap? And how do you ensure you stay on the path? Enter the unsung hero of sustainability: facility management plans. 


Sustainable facility management provides the necessary framework for tracking data and enhancing building performance over time. No matter how sustainable your building is when constructed, it only remains sustainable if it's operated and maintained correctly. Facility Management Plans are also required for existing building certifications such as LEED O+M, BREEAM, and WELL to ensure your building performs optimally. 


A well-maintained facility can be the linchpin of your sustainability strategy and keep your building not just working, but thriving. 


What is Sustainable Facility Management? 

Sustainable facility management is an organization’s process for ensuring that a building operates efficiently and sustainably throughout its lifecycle. This involves integrating sustainable practices into building operations from the start and maintaining those practices over time. The goal is to minimize the environmental impact of building operations while optimizing energy use and ensuring occupant comfort and safety.  


For example, ensuring HVAC systems are regularly cleaned and balanced improves building energy efficiency and air quality for tenants. This requires having a maintenance schedule where HVAC systems are periodically reviewed to ensure they are running at the required standard. 


Why Sustainable Facility Management is Important 

The importance of sustainable facility management cannot be overstated. Beyond putting a system in place to track building data and performance required for certification, it directly adds to the building's value. 


By implementing sustainable maintenance practices, businesses can reduce their environmental footprint, lower operating costs, and improve indoor air quality. Additionally, maintenance practices contribute to the longevity of building systems and structures, reducing the need for costly repairs and replacements. 


In the long term, well-maintained buildings often have higher property values and provide healthier environments for occupants, leading to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. 


What is a Facility Management Plan? 

A facility management plan is a comprehensive strategy that outlines the routine inspections, preventive maintenance schedules, and emergency repair protocols required to ensure that all building systems operate efficiently. This plan helps prevent unexpected breakdowns and extends the lifespan of equipment, ultimately contributing to a building's sustainability goals. 


Key components of a facility maintenance plan include regular inspections of critical systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, as well as routine maintenance tasks like filter replacements, lubrication of moving parts, and calibration of controls. Customization is crucial to address the specific needs of a building and its occupants, considering factors such as the building's age, usage patterns, and occupancy levels. 


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Best Practices for Sustainable Facility Management 

Regular Inspections and Monitoring 

Regular inspections and continuous monitoring of building systems are essential for identifying potential issues before they become major problems. This proactive approach ensures the building operates optimally and prevents costly repairs and downtime. It is a critical aspect of limiting deferred maintenance because minor maintenance issues are tackled before they build up, and larger maintenance options can be planned well in advance. 


Building management systems (BMS) play a crucial role in facilitating effective monitoring and data collection, allowing facility managers to track the performance of various systems in real-time. This data is used to optimize building systems, reduce resource use, and show incremental improvements. It is a crucial component of sustainability reporting where resource data is published in annual reports. These reports provide public transparency, a critical part of capitalizing on the social benefits of sustainability and gaining consumer trust. 


Furthermore, it provides invaluable information on the high-priority areas to target for sustainability improvements. For example, a long-term goal may be to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Identifying low-cost improvement areas with high emissions rates allows for efficient progress in systematically cutting emissions over time. 


Use of Sustainable Materials and Practices 

Using sustainable materials and practices in building maintenance is crucial for achieving sustainability goals. Eco-friendly products, such as low-VOC paints and energy-efficient lighting, contribute to a healthier indoor environment and reduce a building's resource use. Additionally, standard maintenance practices can be made more sustainable by implementing new practices like recycling and composting or using electric vehicles for maintenance staff.  


Add Property Technology Solutions 

Property technology (Prop Tech) is an increasingly common solution to aid in facility maintenance and resource use tracking. Tools such as smart sensors and automated systems optimize energy use, reduce waste, and improve overall efficiency. For example, prop tech solutions like IoT devices and AI-driven analytics can monitor and manage building systems in real-time, ensuring optimal performance and sustainability.  


Training and Education for Maintenance Staff 

Ongoing training and education for maintenance staff are essential for ensuring they are equipped to perform their duties efficiently and sustainably. Well-trained personnel can better identify and address potential issues, implement sustainable best practices, and maintain high maintenance standards.


Furthermore, as prop-tech solutions are implemented in facilities, buildings become more complicated. An in-depth understanding of a building and its operations is critical in effectively managing new technologies.  


For example, a network of IoT sensors for water management may provide valuable data about water efficiency in different areas around the building. This is great for identifying leaking faucets or other failure points. However, it often falls on maintenance staff to interpret the sensor information, determine where and why water efficiency is lower than usual, and implement a solution. The staff needs to have a deep understanding of the building and the IoT system to utilize it effectively. 


Capital Improvement Plans 

Capital improvement plans outline how larger projects will be undertaken. This covers financing, location, and timing of large projects. Major sustainable retrofit and renovation projects are often critical components of long-term building sustainability strategies.  


For example, a building aiming to have net-zero emissions will need to source its energy from renewable sources. Many buildings may opt to develop onsite renewable energy systems to fill this need. Developing onsite renewables can be a major undertaking. A capital improvement plan allows these projects to stay on track, capitalize on favorable finance options, and have a maintenance plan in place when they become operational. 


Partner With Emerald for Your Facility Management Planning 

Achieving business and building sustainability requires long-term thinking and a detailed roadmap that includes a comprehensive facility maintenance plan. By prioritizing sustainable building management, companies can reduce their environmental footprint, lower operating costs, and enhance the health and well-being of occupants. 


Emerald Built Environments understands the ins and outs of sustainability and can assist in developing and implementing effective facility maintenance plans and sustainability roadmaps. Learn how Emerald can help your business achieve its sustainability objectives and maintain high-performance buildings.


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