Is there a difference between a Facility Manager and an Energy Manager?

Lord Redesdale, EMEX
Lord Redesdale

Energy management needs to be embedded into all sectors of British Business, but the sector that should be most clearly focused on efficiency seems to a degree to ignore the issue. Why is the FM industry often ignoring leading on energy management?

The UK’s facilities management (FM) sector is widely accepted by academics as being the most mature and competitive in Europe, with most estimates putting its value in 2017 as high as £120 billion (estimated to reach £139 billion by 2021).

There are at least 750 medium to large FM companies who provide outsourced services to the majority of UK companies. It is therefore surprising how few companies include specific energy management targets in their contracts.

Whilst Energy and FM worlds continue to converge as digital technology takes on a deeper role in managing buildings and their energy use, FM services run at lower margins and there are many contracts that do not work for either the FM provider or the customer when it comes to energy management.

FM duties span a large number of fields, and it is difficult to encapsulate the profession in a sentence, but here is BIFM’s definition.

“Facilities management is the integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities” (BIFM,2017).

Whilst this definition does not trip off the tongue, it would in practice clearly include aspects of energy management. Why have FM companies not fully embraced energy management?

FM is an incredibly competitive industry with wafer thin margins. Woolly contract clauses such as ‘the provider will support the customer in meeting their energy and environment goals’ do nothing to provide specific scope, opportunity, or incentivisation to deliver real value to the customer nor help providers manage risk.

There are other issues too; the separation of energy procurement from energy management, energy management vs. misplaced comfort control and maintenance services, multiple service providers with differing commercial interests, and even protectionist practices where external help is perceived as a threat. These are just some of the issues that muddy what logically should be a happy partnership between FM and Energy Management.

Facilities Management as a profession has developed markedly over the last two decades but there still seems to be a problem getting FM professionals to see energy management as part of their remit. If we are to introduce energy efficiency across the board, and meet our Climate Change targets, this has to change.

A recent survey, conducted by the EMA, showed that there were three main reasons employees felt energy management was outside their remit. Most answered that it was not part of their role, this was followed by the belief that they neither had the training or the expertise to save energy. The last issue was that there was no incentive as part of their job to save energy as this was someone else’s responsibility.

The EMA will continue to pursue the notion that energy and facility management is closely linked and encourage the conversation on the topic at EMEX, The Energy Management Exhibition that will take place on 22 and 23 November at ExCeL in London – More information at the link below.

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