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Why Facility Managers Should Care About Net Zero

Facility managers and their teams need to develop and implement strategies to improve energy efficiency now, but figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. September 21, 2022



By Dan Weltin, Editor-in-Chief

Green, sustainability, climate change, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance). Whatever buzzword you choose, reducing energy consumption is a major part of these environmental initiatives.

However, even focusing strictly on energy efficiency will bring up even more buzzwords – Net Zero, carbon offsets, carbon neutrality, etc. Navigating these terms can be confusing, but these goals are now a reality. Companies are developing corporate sustainability initiatives that align with state and local regulations, and facility managers are a crucial player in those plans.

Facility managers and their teams need to develop and implement strategies to improve energy efficiency now, but figuring out where to start can be overwhelming.

During the session “From Ambition to Action: Net Zero Goals, ESG Goals, and Energy Code Compliance,” at NFMT Remix in Las Vegas in November, Jesse Fisher, director of WB Engineers+Consultants, joined by Desmond Greene, Managing Director, Energy and Sustainability Practice Lead for WB Engineers + Consultants, will discuss how facility managers can begin to achieve net zero goals for their facilities.

NFMT: What does net zero even mean for facilities and why should facility managers care?

Fisherman: This is one of the most confusing aspects of the net zero conversation. There are several definitions depending on the size of the boundary around the facilities. At its most basic level, net zero is about balancing the resources consumed by the construction and ongoing operations of the building, campus, or portfolio.

NFMT: Are facility managers running out of time to initiate these projects to meet legislative goals?

Fisherman: There is still time to comply, but as with all great endeavors, the sooner you start planning, the easier and more effective it will be for you to achieve goals. It should also be noted that there are currently federal tax credits, state-funded programs, and utility incentives to help pay for efficiency and sustainability projects that may not last.

NFMT: How do facility managers decide which projects to improve to meet goals?

Fisherman: Start by keeping. Reduce consumption before trying to compensate with on-site production. For example, improving lighting and HVAC efficiency before installing a solar PV panel will significantly reduce the cost and size of the solar project.

NFMT: What types of projects will have the most impact?

Fisherman: The first type of impact projects are low cost, low effort projects with very short payback periods because there is immediate benefit. These projects create visibility and create momentum and an appetite for more projects within an organization. Examples of this are demand-controlled ventilation strategies calibrated in real time by IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) sensors to reduce HVAC energy consumption while maintaining a healthy indoor environment.

The second type of project with high impact are systemic building retrofits where complete HVAC systems are upgraded, envelopes are improved, or onsite power generation/microgrid solutions, or large electrical projects photovoltaic. Due to their scope, these projects have a significant impact on reducing the building’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.

NFMT Remix will take place in Las Vegas, November 2-3, at the Paris Las Vegas Resort Conference Center. For more information, visit www.nfmt.com/vegas.

Dan Weltin is the Facilities Market Editor. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the facilities management and commercial cleaning industries.

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