NEF/BIFM survey - FM profession cautious over energy reduction targets and hindered by lack of tools

18th February 2014

A survey by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) and the National Energy Foundation (NEF) into experiences and expectations of improving the use of energy in buildings has found that FM professionals are highly committed to maximising energy improvements – but still lack metering and monitoring tools to establish accurate baselines and track progress. While 90% of respondents know their annual energy costs, only half of respondents knew how the buildings were performing compared to design, and nearly a third were not comparing the buildings’ performance over time.

Three quarters of respondents are working towards a relative percentage energy reduction target, although the survey found respondents had mixed levels of confidence in achieving these. While 40% of respondents use Building Management Systems, monthly consumption data is still the primary data tool available for most FM professionals to navigate the complexities of energy management.

“Technology” (such as new plant), was cited as the most important factor in improving the use of energy by nearly half of respondents, closely followed by, and interlinked with, “behaviour”. Offsetting and certification was seen as having the most limited impact. Worryingly, FM professionals estimated that, even if the desired technology and behaviour changes were made, only a further 10% reduction in energy usage was possible. This is considerably less than the savings found by the best energy improvement projects.

“FM professionals are uniquely placed to tackle the gap between predicted and actual energy performance in buildings, but are constrained by a lack of access to the scope and quality of data they need” said Kerry Mashford, CEO of NEF. “This barrier persists, hampering both comparison over time and external benchmarking initiatives”.

“Professional standards are high and there is evidence of widespread good practice. The survey highlighted a sophisticated understanding of the interplay of technology, behaviour and processes in achieving energy savings. However, there could, and should, be more aggressive targeting to achieve energy improvements” commented Lucy Black, Chair of BIFM’s Sustainability Special Interest Group.  

The online survey was conducted during October 2013 and a full report of its findings was made available.