The role of facility management is more relevant than ever in 2021. According to the Dutch Public Procurement Expertise Centre (pianoo) “the field of facility management influences organisations’ circular performance.” Since the end of 2020, Socially Responsible Procurement (MVI) is the norm followed by governmental organisations in the Netherlands. This means that facility managers should consider a circular approach and socially responsible procurement as part of their tasks. We spoke to Peter Holtrop, facility manager at DJI. He shared his insight about the relevance to integrate circularity into procurement. “Second-hand means second chance”, he tells. Integrating socially responsible procurement and circular performance can lead to carbon emissions savings, by for example refurbishing the existing assets. In this way, facility managers play a key role in the adoption of a circular perspective for buildings. Especially since there is a high expectation that in the future procurement will integrate a circular perspective.
The goal is clear and sharp, the European Union will become carbon neutral by 2050. Part of the roadmap establishes 2030 as the year to review the progress made. In the past months, the EU Parliament increased the reduction target for carbon emissions. Modifying the goal from 49% to 55% raises the challenge to adjust the ambitions in all industries. For example, the building industry generated 38% of the global carbon emissions in 2020. Therefore, the objective is projected to be at least reducing 40% by 2030, if we consider the target of the World Green Building Council back in 2019.
With so many dates and numbers, it is hard to remember and easy to get confused. The key takeaway is that the building industry and facility managers should prepare immediately for a drastic change in the way of procuring and managing facilities. One of the factors to bring carbon emissions down is through procurement of assets for the office. Fewer “new” assets and more sustainable (circular) alternatives are better. How do you achieve that, if you do not have an overview of what is at hand or not? The circular perspective focuses on reusing, recycling or prolonging the useful life of assets. If you have a workspace that is functional for a longer period of time, then it is easier to plan future investments in assets for the office. Such savings could represent an advantage when procuring alternative assets with a circular perspective.
Innovation and circular approach
It is common to observe technology, consumer goods or innovative companies pursuing a circular business perspective. For governmental organisations, this is not only a perspective, it is a matter of staying ahead of the market and the reality that will develop in the coming decades. The scientific facts are very clear on the future, perceiving our environment, has to be more circular rather than linear. Organisations (private and public) must find ways to bring the same results without accounting for more resources than currently available. A circular approach into the organisations’ processes and assets could prolong the life cycle of assets, repurpose stuff or cut costs for new assets.
From investments to buildings, offices and production facilities, circular performance leads to a more responsible way of procurement. Why? Because existing assets represent value in terms of years of use and money not spent for newer assets. Moreover, when an organisation considers the need for new assets, these assets could be purchased considering their benefits for the future. How do you perform the assessment of what you have, what you need and what is not necessary? The answer is a Workplace Asset Inventory.
Workplace Asset Inventory
A Workplace Asset Inventory is the procedure to know precisely what kind of assets you own as a company. There are various options you can add to the inventory, the basics are the number and the state (poor, average, good) of the assets. Additionally, more specific aspects could be considered, such as building or location, floor, zone or room number; element type, type, brand; and model, colour, dimensions, complete or incomplete.
The biggest challenge in an asset inventory is that organisations do not know what to do with the information obtained. We can provide a company with the information that they need. But it is important for them to think about what they want to do with this information. Just collecting the data is not enough. A clear goal is important to provide a company with the right information. Besides, it is a challenge for companies to provide the right information in order to carry out the inventory, such as complete floor plans or an overview of the building(s) with m2 etc.
Being able to help companies with financial plans or circularity plans. Some clients simply didn’t know what kind of assets they had, and how many of them are in the buildings they own. By counting the assets, we were able to help them come up with a (better) financial plan and to plan ahead what they need to invest in the coming years. For some companies, it was possible to invest in a circular way and get ‘second hand’ or ‘refurbished’ assets instead of buying new ones.
Before and after
One of the companies to which we conducted the asset inventory is now able to track down what kind of assets they have and how many of these are coming in and going out of the facilities. They created a department that is processing all the changes made in 60+ locations. Our client has done this in a circular way. To keep an accurate overview of the whole assets, we contributed by doing independent checks to make sure everything is registered the right way.
The role of facility management in the circular wave
It is really efficient to know what is going on with the building(s) you own as a company. Although, occupancy is essential, from a circular approach, knowing the total of assets you own is really important to make responsible procurement and financial plans for the coming years. That replacement could be done in a circular way. There can be a possibility to get it refurbished or to get it second hand. It’s not always necessary to buy stuff new, if there is another option it’s really important to use that option. The future will demand facility managers to integrate a circular approach to accommodate the needs of workspaces, employees and asset investment. Taking the first step into doing your asset management with a circular approach takes you closer to comply with the EU ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2050.