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Combating Climate Change

Facilities Management

13/10/21 | Rebecca Drewett

Given the urgent need for the world to address global warming, the FSI Team joins FMJ's group of technology specialists to explain how CAFM can help FMs tackle climate change.

In anticipation of the COP26 summit taking place this November in Glasgow organisations are gearing up to meet obligations to achieve net-zero emissions.

For years CAFM systems have helped FMs manage the performance of assets and now the technology is being primed to respond to growing requirements to help FMs meet sustainability objectives. We asked some of the leading CAFM developers for insights into the range of solutions on offer.

Peter Tyler, Director of Technology for FSI, along with Damian Moore, Senior Business Analyst and Louise Gregory, Business Development Manager

At the inception of the facilities management industry, there were FM teams holed up in basements and wall-to-wall filing cabinets filled with papers documenting jobs. With CAFM now widely adopted, teams have thankfully shaken off these outdated processes, digitised the way they collect data and ditched unnecessary printouts wreaking havoc on the environment (and the sanity of those trying to locate information). But saving tons of paper only scratches the surface of what CAFM continues to achieve.


Up until a few years ago, many engineers still needed to drive back and forth to collect and drop off job sheets and to pick up items of stock or parts. Now, through the power of CAFM and dedicated workforce apps, they are able to access asset data from their devices anywhere, receive briefs on-the-go and know exactly when and where they are needed as well as what they need to complete the work.

Resource planning modules allow to-the-minute scheduling, with engineers assigned based on task priorities and factual data such as their exact location. This greatly reduces unnecessary journeys and eliminates the issuing of manual worksheets. Additionally, the slow but certain uptake of IoT sensor technology is helping to reduce unnecessary travel even further.


By installing sensors across different assets and applications, more informed data can be collected about when an engineer needs to be on-site, but also exactly what they will be doing whilst on site.

Let’s take the small but essential event of Legionella control as an example. Regular monitoring and flushing of taps and toilets helps keep Legionella at bay. But what IOT sensor technology can do is monitor exactly when the system needs flushing, preventing unneeded trips and reducing water wastage.

IoT brings a whole new dimension to CAFM, connecting data and assets closer than ever before. Think smarter buildings, reduced electricity waste, issues identified before they impact the building, and ultimately minimal energy usage and costs.


CAFM gives teams accurate data in realtime and allows them to make more educated decisions because of this. Monitoring energy consumption, compliance obligations and the wider asset network gives management complete accountability and ownership over what’s happening inside a building. Intuitive BI dashboards and dedicated contractor apps give teams total visibility of their portfolio’s compliance obligations, energy usage, and much more.

They can control air quality, track CO2 levels, humidity and room temperatures to ensure optimal comfort levels and prevent unnecessary energy waste, such as the automatic opening of windows, or outside air dampers to circulate more fresh air.

Systems themselves can be monitored and regular maintenance checks can be booked automatically based on usage. Considered maintenance task scheduling helps improve asset lifecycles and reduces the need to replace units unnecessarily.

Having this data at your fingertips allows decisions about energy usage to be made and prevents lots of in-person checking, tweaking and maintenance from needing to happen.


Many clients are waking up to the power of the data that their Building Management System holds. We can save a lot of energy simply by monitoring the BMS and building controls themselves. For example, if we identify that an air handling unit is expending a lot of heat in one area but less so in others, wireless IoT sensors can then be used at a very granular level to troubleshoot these problematic areas to indicate exactly where thermal loss is occurring. Alone, a BMS would not be able to pick up on this issue, but they can provide the initial insight that informs the wider FM strategy.

Quite simply, just knowing when equipment is running, at what rate and for how long can provide important clues as to where energy is consumed unnecessarily.


Whether it’s identifying a leak or optimising temperatures, CAFM aims to help teams reduce their environmental impact without compromising on customer experience – in many cases, it works to enhance it.

Let’s take a shopping centre car park for example. Historically, an engineer would have to physically walk around to learn a lighting fixture has failed, or wait for a customer to complain.

With CAFM technology, engineers are now notified with an exact pinpoint of the location, without any manual exertion. Likewise, IoT sensors can accurately inform customers how many spaces are available and where. This improves customer experience and prevents them aimlessly circling facilities to find a spot.

We expect to see companies invest even further into CAFM, IoT and AI in the immediate future and coming years. Further advancements in AI, such as Machine Learning and Deep Learning, will help to improve the trends and insight we interpret from the data, assets will become even easier to manage, life cycles will be extended. The list goes on. This powerful data will help organisations understand their environment better than ever before and continually improve their carbon footprint long into the future.

Gary Watkins, CEO of Service Works Global (SWG), believes CAFM provides the means to control and understand buildings and assets like never before

A 20 per cent cut in energy costs represents the same bottom-line benefit for many businesses, according to the Carbon Trust, but ‘quick wins’ are being missed due to lack of understanding of where energy is used and wasted.

Responsibility is falling to the facilities management team to form strategies to reduce energy consumption whilst still maintaining high levels of service provision and workplace productivity.


One of the simplest ways to improve sustainability is by switching to a CAFM mobile app. Aside from the productivity gains achieved by instant access to work orders, asset history and documentation, managing work electronically saves reams of paper each year. Take for example, our client Curtin University in Australia. They were awarded Australia’s first 5-star ‘Green Star-Communities’ rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), using QFM software from Service Works Global (SWG) to help maintain their green credentials. Curtin averages over 25,000 reactive jobs raised per year and used the QFM app to replace paper job sheets.

Creating 60 digital maintenance forms on the mobile app has enabled the team to go paper-free, helping to create a more sustainable organisation. Well maintained assets draw less energy so effective asset management is a key area
of focus when looking at sustainability.

CAFM software can be used to calculate the most effective scheduling for maintaining an asset, reducing unnecessary servicing, unscheduled call outs and keeping energy costs low. The software can monitor energy use and costs, helping to identify where the greatest costs lie to inform new strategies. Across large organisations, small inefficiencies can combine to create substantial performance issues, damaging the environment as well as reducing productivity across the organisation. Even small changes such as switching to LED lighting have played a substantial part in reducing energy demand, consuming 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent luminaires and have a lifespan around 10 times longer – meaning less maintenance resource is required in addition to the energy savings generated.

Combined with smart technology, CAFM gives an unprecedented level of data and automation which is essential in this fight against waste. Sensors placed around buildings can detect occupation and identify activity patterns allowing
lighting, air conditioning or even cleaning to specific areas to be reduced. Or, using more widespread applications, CAFM can be integrated with BMS and a room booking system, enabling meeting rooms and offices to be powered, heated or cooled, only when in use. In this way responsibility for managing resources can be shared between the FM team and the building users, increasing efficiency and savings.


BIM (building information modelling) is the ultimate innovation in digital data, providing a strong foundation from which to meet green targets for buildings. BIM models integrated with CAFM software can provide the FM team with key information such as measurements and types of materials to ensure the correct amount of supplies are ordered with no wastage; classifications of each space, minimum / maximum temperatures, and extensive details about each asset to ensure the engineer has everything they need for preventative maintenance. A BIM model can even be paired with virtual reality headsets to allow simulated site visits from anywhere in the world to save travel.

Once the BIM model gains access to continuous data (such as a real-time system, behavioural and operational data) then it becomes a digital twin. A digital twin is the next level of BIM in providing data. The digital twin compiles this data to form a virtual replica of the building’s state in real time. Instead of viewing data from various sources on multiple reports, the digital twin can be used to view performance, identify trends and detect building errors – in the
same place. Twins can also be used to test different scenarios – like the impact on air quality of a new asset, or how cooling systems would cope with more people in the building. This reduces the impact of disruption or dips in performance of the ‘live’ building environment and can help the FM make greener and more sustainable choices.

Oliver Spires, Product Manager at Idox says CAFM can help FMs provide more sustainable estate management

The Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, will take place in the UK in Glasgow, with the intention of mapping out how exactly to accelerate the actions needed to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

The hope is that the forum will bring us closer to meeting 2030 reductions targets and align with reaching Net-Zero by 2050 as planned. Currently, the carbon emissions produced by global industry are on course to rise by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021 according to the IEA’s recent Global Energy Review. It’s an issue that can only be solved if all Governments work collaboratively.

It’s clear that technology will play a key role in changing behaviours and implementing new practices which are more sustainable. Facilities management helps organisations improve environmental performance, from
monitoring the energy efficiency of buildings to reducing waste and supporting social value strategies. CAFM technology has the potential to streamline processes within organisations which will allow oversight into where emissions can be reduced.

The FM role is undergoing a seismic shift from asset management to managing employee satisfaction and wellbeing, as well as meeting sustainability targets. Now with hybrid working taking centre stage, the way in which buildings are being used has profoundly changed. Managing occupancy and energy levels now relies on smart responses to fluctuating demand.

Businesses are reconsidering their carbon footprint, and those with demonstrably sustainable practices are generally performing better especially when it comes to fostering greater public support. The responsibility to make this a reality is increasingly falling on the shoulders of facilities managers. With this evolving responsibility comes a need for technology that makes monitoring and asset management far easier. For many tasked with managing facilities, relying on spreadsheets and manual, paper-based processes are the norm. Not only are these methods outdated, but they are simply not fit for purpose in an environment of rapid change sparked by the pandemic.

There is a need for data to be centralised, so that FMs are empowered to make more informed decisions which will ultimately benefit their business – and, in turn, the planet. This is where CAFM comes in.


CAFM enables a much better strategic oversight of facilities. Sensors can detect if people are in the office and which rooms are in use to adjust the lighting and temperature settings accordingly. This allows FMs to rethink their workplace to be more efficient by potentially restacking their portfolio and mothballing freed up space to reduce overall energy consumption. Here, technology is enabling a much more efficient use of space.

There is also the opportunity for unused outside space to be transformed into a tool for reducing carbon – disused roofs can be transformed into gardens which in themselves are oxygen-emitting ecosystems. In densely populated urban
areas, this idea means space is being used to counteract the carbon in a positive way.

What’s more, buildings themselves can become climate change measurers – in-built sensors are able to monitor pollution and air quality, producing a more holistic picture of the air-quality levels in different areas. A great example of this is London’s BT tower, which is officially the world’s highest IoT base station.


The remit of an FM can span multiple buildings across multiple regions. CAFM can significantly support this by managing mobile workforces to ensure they can send people where they are most needed, at the right time. One example involves sensors; if the lights in one branch are faulty, FMs can send the person in closest proximity with the right equipment to solve the issue. This removes the need for unnecessary routine trips and subsequently lowers carbon emissions.


All assets have a certain life cycle – they should, in theory, work at optimum performance before requiring a service which can prolong their use. However, some assets regularly need attention. CAFM and PPM (Planned Preventative Methods) can help to analyse whether the cost and emissions required to maintain the product is worth it from a business perspective. The technology reduces the number of reactive jobs and allows FMs more time to spend
on value-adding activity instead. Similarly, CAFM informs FMs which assets are working smoothly and therefore don’t require a check-up.

Whatever the outcome of COP26 conversations and whether it is delayed because of the pandemic, now is the time to invest in CAFM and analytics tools to make more environmentally conscious decisions that offer FMs the tools and insight to make decisions quickly. This is a valuable power, because we will undoubtedly face tougher sustainability regulations, intended to protect the future of business – and our planet.