One positive point to emerge from the most recent recession is that it has forced all businesses, organizations and workplaces to explore where they can save money and, in many cases, this means looking at ways of making real savings in operating expenses.
For instance, facilities managers know that budgets for commercial real estate will remain tight and seem likely to face economic strain even after a full recovery. From a personal experience, I know how much extra pressure the economy has put on facilities management companies. The question, therefore, is ‘what is the facilities manager doing to cut costs?’
Energy consumption is a major expense for nearly all organizations and making a few simple improvements can reap big rewards. Even small changes can have an impact, but workplaces need a firm grasp of their energy consumption using invoices, meter readings and other contractor information in order to identify where to focus their efforts.
Often, it makes sense to have facilities managers who are responsible for this as part of their role to be able to evaluate and do an assessment of such information in order to quantify savings and justify any future investment.
In today’s technologically reliant world, most workplaces have an endless stream of IT equipment, telephone systems and television screens all draining electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, unless they are switched off when they are not in use.
Investing in cost saving methods or spending money to save money can help reduce energy cost. This could mean fitting motion sensors to lights or installing ambient light detection systems that adjust lighting levels depending on the amount of natural light.
At the bottom end of the spectrum, just encouraging employees to turn things off when they are not in use and putting strategically placed signage to act as a reminder will make a difference.
Process improvement methodology can also be applied to reduce energy use. For organizations that have commercial kitchens, it is likely to be the most energy intensive operation. The following steps will help achieve the goal of reducing cost.
Observation – the facilities manager can observe how the kitchen equipment is used by the staff. This includes whether the electrical appliances are still left on after the busy period of each mealtime.
Planning – a review of the kitchen use and busy periods can be done in order to work out and execute kitchen equipment procedures relating to the use of every major appliance. Appliances that do not require being in use between lunch and dinner times can be shut down.
Maintenance – properly maintained equipment is energy efficient. It is crucial to set a periodic maintenance plan for the entire kitchen equipment to ensure optimal performance.
Measurement – Looking at the trend of equipment use and calculating the impact of 2-3 hours less runtime can be good savings on electricity cost. Monthly bill should be reviewed to see what has been realized.
Follow-up – The facilities manager should show the kitchen staff through the electricity bills what savings have been made. Review the plan every few months to adapt it to changes that may occur.
Finally ensuring all staff buy-in to the energy saving process, signs, posters and other communication methods will help to reinforce the message.