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IFM 2.0: Ethos of sustainability shifts to facility management

IFM 2.0 – Tenon FM Takes the Lead

As you read this, India’s Top 1,000 businesses by market capitalisation are busy compiling their ESG reports. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has issued an ESG rating framework called Core Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR), which lists 49 parameters for ESG reporting. While filing this is mandatory for business behemoths at present, its scope is expected to include more companies in the near future.

At the other end of the carrot-and-stick approach to sustainable business operations are the many rewards and benefits it attracts: ESG funding, employee wellness and improved workplace productivity, curtailed cost of facility maintenance and more.

So what does this have to do with facility management? As it turns out, a lot. The Tenon Group — Tenon FM and Soteria — sees ESG centricity as an opportunity to contribute to clients’ commitment to sustainability, from the simplest operations at the facility level, all the way up to boardroom strategy.

In the past, FM professionals were entrusted only with non-core, business support responsibilities such as housekeeping and maintenance. Not anymore. As the FM community accepts more functions and delivers more services, the onus of ensuring that an organisation’s facilities reflect its ethos of sustainability shifts to FM. This has elevated service providers to service partners, where facility managers drive ESG, not just support it.

Shifting client requisites

This mandate- and incentive-driven shift towards sustainability is also fuelled by a genuine desire among corporates to examine and mitigate their environmental footprint. The Top management is now enquiring about ways to reduce energy consumption rather than just energy bills, minimising waste generated by the business instead of just managing it responsibly.

Many businesses are also choosing to have their facilities assessed and certified as green. Since most of India’s built infrastructure wasn’t designed to be green, it takes the intervention of an expert integrated facility management partner like Tenon FM for any building or campus to earn the coveted tag of ‘green facility’.

Products and processes

For years before the relatively recent push for sustainability, Tenon FM has been advocating the adoption of FM solutions that both improve ESG scores and optimise a client’s FM spends. “As an IFM expert, we are already in the midst of a shift from conventional cleaning chemicals to green-certified cleaning agents, and even chemical-less cleaning,” shared Angad Rajain, Global CSO and IFM Head, Tenon Group.

Doing more with less, and making FM decisions based on the life-cycle assessment of a solution are now in vogue. Angad offered an example: “Replacing CFLs with LEDs will not only help reduce energy consumption, but will also have the indirect effect of reducing air-conditioning costs, since CFLs emit more heat compared to LEDs. Energy costs are reduced in more than one way.”

Similarly, choosing housekeeping processes that necessitate relatively less use of water, opting for machines that are battery-powered (and hence do not emit fumes), and introducing solutions that prevent FM problems rather than mitigating them after they manifest are some of the many ways that Tenon FM is minimising its clients’ environmental footprint, as well as its own.

Technology enables sustainability

“Soteria, Tenon Group’s tech arm, works with AI, IoT and machine learning to improve productivity, reduce downtime and enhance workplace experience. By capturing data in real-time and relaying to an integrated command and control centre, it facilitates data-driven decisions,” said Anuj Rajain, CEO, Soteria.

Here are just some of the many ways in which Soteria’s solutions are incorporated in integrated facility management:

Measuring real-time FM needs: By measuring user count, user density and average user time for a given area and relaying the information to the command centre, Soteria enables available resources to be directed to where they are most required, as and when necessary. No excess resources are expended, and services are provided according to needs rather than according to a prefixed schedule.

IoT-linked Air Quality Index sensors: By monitoring changes in indoor air quality, the system raises alerts when the AQI breaches accepted levels and initiates the necessary interventions to return AQI to optimal conditions. Employee wellness is never allowed to be compromised.

Camera-based remote monitoring: Events like a sudden spill can be instantly detected, and the necessary resources deployed to attend to it, thus reducing response time. A smaller team can cover more area on a need-to basis.

Biometric-based visitor management system: This digitally registers a visitor’s details, automatically allowing or denying access to the facility. Manual assessment is eliminated.

QR codes for assets: When a technician visits an asset, he or she can scan the code to generate a digital checklist. Not only does this eliminate paper, but the FM team can check whether all SOPs are being stringently followed.

Reorienting people

FM employees – from subject matter experts to washroom janitors – are the face of facility management. For ESG-focussed products, processes and technology to bring about change, the people who use, execute and operate them will have to change first.

“We believe that net zero, carbon neutrality and a plastic-free culture are all possible if we go beyond simply teaming up with clients or vendors. At Tenon, we are building dedicated cross-functional teams to drive ESG targets,” said Angad.

Measuring ESG progress

ESG is a process of continuous execution and improvement, which needs to be measured, monitored and tracked. Creating baselines and benchmarks for every parameter is fundamental to measuring success; Tenon Group understands this, and voluntarily submits itself to audits by reputed bodies.

One such organisation is EcoVadis, which provides a holistic sustainability rating service of companies, delivered via a global cloud-based SaaS platform. It rates a company’s material sustainability effect using extensive documentation analysis, based on the pillars of Environment, Sustainable Procurement and more. Ever since Tenon Group started undergoing this assessment, it has consistently improved on its rating.

Needless to add, Tenon FM also subscribes to various ISO building standards such as those for thermal performance, energy use, etc.

The road ahead

Remember the BRSR report? Even as the aggregate score for the top 1,000 listed companies still hovers in the ‘average’ grade category, companies who have been disclosing ESG data have seen their scores improve by almost 15% over the past three fiscal years. Even industries such as steel, cement and mining, which are traditionally associated with environmental degradation, have improved their average ESG performance by 20% over the same period.

Clearly, when a business truly commits to sustainability, no ESG goal is out of reach. And when a service partner like Tenon – with its decades-worth of ESG expertise – is at hand, each of those goals can and will be achieved sooner rather than later.

Tenon Group’s sustainability targets
  • By 2030: Replace conventional cleaning chemicals with mild and eco-friendly cleaning solutions
  • By 2040: Convert entire fleet into electric vehicles
  • Reduce consumption of water and plastic across FM operations
  • By harnessing renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions by 25% at its corporate office, followed by regional offices in India and the UK.

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