Driven by the ever-increasing number of construction projects and infrastructure developments in the UAE, the FM sector is expected to witness massive growth as service providers move to support the growing market. Sandrine Le Biavant, Director of Consulting at Farnek, talks about the sustainability, technology and everything in between.
We spoke to the Director of Consulting at Farnek, Sandrine Le Biavant about the integration of sustainability into the facility management process. She believes it begins at the top: “It all starts with a commitment on the management level, not only reducing your own but the customer’s environmental impact as well. The management has to make strategic business decisions to invest in green approach services.”
Le Biavant herself witnessed such change more than eight years ago when Farnek decided to make all its cleaning products eco-friendly and created an energy management division in the company.
As organizations make the necessary shift towards sustainability, an energy audit works jointly with a condition survey to assimilate the energy and water conservation in daily tasks without creating too much change and possible resistance.
Organizations that have already made the change should do an energy audit every three years, according to Le Biavant. She said: “Integration of sustainability in the FM process requires specialists to put systems in place, create change in the mindset and cultivate the passion for green activities among employees. The benefits are enormous with an internal rate of return (IRR) of up to 48 percent for some of our customers, paybacks in less than two years.”
The Health, Safety, Environment & Quality (HSEQ) team flags and recommends improvement actions, additionally training employees to flag, act or recommend the right solutions in their jobs to reduce the company’s impact on the environment.
However, many owners rely on FM companies to handle such activities, not realizing that it requires a different set of skills than maintenance, a different team and hence a separate budget, says Le Biavant.
Over the next 15 years, Dubai plans to implement sorting waste at source, build new recycling facilities, financial benefits for green waste collection companies and awareness campaigns. The initiatives are a part of the zero-landfill target by the year 2030, which aims to divert virtually all waste from the landfills.
Naturally, waste management has become one of the key components in facilities management, particularly in the UAE. Le Biavant said:
“We offer waste audits for our sites to support property managers and owners to improve the appearance of a site, tenants/visitor engagement and save costs.”
UAE’s construction sector is expected to contribute 11-11.5 per cent to the GDP between 2015 and 2021. This bodes well for the country’s Facilities Management industry – a sector set to be worth $5.44bn (AED20bn) per annum by 2016, with significant potential for growth and development.
Facility managers are responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of an organization. So, facility managers today also have to be business leaders.
Le Biavant says that managing a multi-million contract is not a small responsibility. Facility managers must have the skills of quality and performance managers, with a subtle customer-centred approach.
There is a lot of scope for business and career advancement in the FM industry, says Le Biavant. “We are increasingly working with local universities and colleges to select passionate engineers/technicians and hospitality students to put through our program here at Farnek.
“This means working with every core division in the company – from human resources to business development to finance– it is fundamental that FM managers know the process from A to Z within the organization.”
Certain trends are increasingly commonplace in the FM industry in an era where the ‘Internet of Things’ is becoming ever more relevant and attainable. According to Le Biavant, these include “daily monitoring of assets and energy management as a long-awaited alternative to defective BMS and critical assets.”
She says there are quite a few effective technologies on the market today that enable a more proactive approach to monitoring these assets for better performance, but also response times. Further, these technologies can be monitored in real time, and could potentially drive efficiencies on the floor.
Le Biavant said: “From technicians to the facility managers, I can see that technology will create new trends and help professionals improve their analytical skills to make the best use of the system. Technology will also highlight the soft services operations, which provide improved performance and reporting at the same level as our MEP initiatives.”
There are difficulties facing an industry on the brink of a technological revolution, although it may not be ready to embrace this change yet. Sandrine said: “As we are committed to maintaining the integrity of the building, it is our first priority to keep this under control at all times. It is necessary for any FM organization to have our priorities straight to ensure that a technical project is feasible and realistic. This is mainly due to the fact that it takes time to analyze the opportunities, compare, source and test a serious solution.
“It is critical that FM companies begin their research now to compete at a high level. Given that Dubai has some of the most significant buildings in the world, our industry needs to lead FM on a global scale.”
If an FM organization is successful at implementing technology, it will have a competitive advantage as developers of high-profile projects have become more sophisticated with contracting and are integrating innovation in their tenders.
Written by Hina Latif
Originally posted on thebig5hub.com