Sustainability is quickly becoming a central focus for large public institutions. In order to remain competitive and attract investors, executive management teams are increasing focus on their ESG disclosures, reviewing strategies to reduce carbon emissions and looking to embed sustainability into their organization to achieve lasting results.
The most common barrier is simple. In a commercial building environment, sustainability performance is most impacted by energy performance. Unfortunately, the teams whose decisions impact energy consumption are often not well placed to appreciate the flow-on effects.
For example, energy supply is often dealt with through a procurement process, but finance and procurement teams may not have the energy market knowledge to procure energy optimally. Most facility and operations managers coordinate or carry out equipment maintenance and repair, but are ultimately more are focused on tenant comfort, security and after-hours access than on the nitty-gritty of peak demand and HVAC optimization strategies.
Organizations struggle to embed sustainability into their organization because the teams who make decisions that impact energy and environmental performance often must act separately with limited or incomplete information.
To embed sustainability excellence into your organization, you need an alliance between sustainability, finance, procurement and site operations teams to achieve the best results, all of which needs to be underpinned by an enterprise-wide data management system for energy, carbon and emission-related data.
With a strategic sustainability approach, it’s important to reinforce ownership, engagement and alignment. Here’s how each team should contribute to embedding sustainability excellence in your organization:
Finance and procurement
One of the positive things about environmental savings is that they go hand in hand with financial savings. Finance teams need access to utility billing data to help them understand costs and consumption trends among sites, energy types and suppliers. This enables them to identify outliers and make more informed procurement decisions. With cost and consumption data, finance teams can also validate the business case for energy efficiency projects and renewable energy purchases.
Operations and engineering
Operation teams, facility managers and engineers are often on the front line of energy waste events that reduce environmental performance. Though site-level operations teams may not explicitly be concerned with sustainability, site issues that contribute to energy waste often have a detrimental impact on occupants. Equipment that is running out of hours can contribute to occupant discomfort, cause wear and tear on costly equipment, and even lead to equipment breakdown and site disruptions. Operations, facility management and engineering teams can benefit from site- and equipment-level visibility of indoor environmental quality measures and HVAC analytics for remote monitoring and control.
Sustainability teams traditionally have held responsibility for environmental performance. The tools they use to manage this responsibility vary. Many sustainability teams still manually collect utility data and calculate emissions in spreadsheets, while others may outsource ESG data management and reporting entirely. Sustainability teams are interested in emissions intensity, emissions by reporting groups and other sustainability performance indicators. While budget has traditionally been low for sustainability teams, they can share in the costs and the valuye with other functional teams with an enterprise-wide data management system. This way, the sustainability teams can spend less time reporting and more time driving performance improvement using the same system used by finance and operations teams. Energy savings can even be invested back into sustainability programs through a sustainable funding model or a revolving efficiency fund, helping to fund renewables, offsets or other initiatives.
Executives in the C suite
As the face of an organization, the C suite can communicate to investors and the general public on how the business is meeting its commitments and help bring in the right teams together to achieve sustainability leadership.
Improved sustainability performance can significantly improve net operational costs, and can improve building NABERS, Green Star and Energy Star ratings. But the benefits can also go far deeper. Leading sustainability performance results in a better brand profile for stakeholders, and stronger overall financial performance and competitive differentiation.