Why you should benchmark your carbon footprint

April 2016 — In a previous article we reviewed how utility costs nearly always seem to be one of an FM’s top issues. When you look at the facilities management budget the reasons are obvious:

  • Utility costs are usually the largest single expense of any operating budget—usually between 30 to 35% of total operating costs.
  • Utility rates are always going up even when petroleum costs are declining. The price increases are beyond the control of facilities managers and related to a number of different factors such as increased pollution controls, investments in renewables and storm preparation.
  • Green energy costs are always increasing.

Benchmarking your carbon footprint is a useful initiative and more organizations are beginning initiatives to report the carbon footprint of their facilities. At a recent conference, when asked for a response, the participants in attendance indicated that they have carbon footprint reduction initiatives ranging from 50 to 80 percent over the next ten years. A follow-up question regarding progress toward the goal indicated that nearly all were meeting their goals and attributed their success to the energy efficiency programs they had implemented.

So here is a success story that FMs should be eager to report. It shows that in reducing utility costs and consumption, you also can reduce the carbon footprint of your facility. Carbon footprint is a metric that is often overlooked by FMs; some benchmarking applications don’t even include it. It is also a very easy one to measure; if you are collecting your utility consumption data, any benchmarking application should be able to calculate the carbon footprint.

The table below, Figure 1, is a screen shot showing the annual utilities consumption. Each value listed with the legend “CF” is needed to calculate the carbon footprint.

Figure 1 –Annual Utilities Consumption (partial screen shot) Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Figure 1 –Annual Utilities Consumption (partial screen shot)
Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

From this information we can calculate our total carbon footprint (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 –Carbon Footprint Computation Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Figure 2 –Carbon Footprint Computation
Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

With this data, any benchmarking system should be able to provide a normalized carbon footprint comparison based on utility consumption. This kind of benchmarking system shows where you stand compare to your peers (see Figure 3), which is filtered for the type of facility (office). Note that our building is in the middle of the fourth (“worst”) quartile and thus in need of improvement. Implementation of some key best practices is going to be needed to get positive results.

Figure 3 –Annual Carbon Footprint per Area Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Figure 3 –Annual Carbon Footprint per Area
Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Most benchmarking tools should be able to provide this type of report. And, any facilities manager looking at this chart should be asking the question, “What do I do to get better, or move into the third or second quartile?”

Articles are based on data from FM BENCHMARKING, the online benchmarking tool for facilities managers and CREs. Data tracked by FM BENCHMARKING includes cost data (utilities, maintenance, custodial, security), sustainability data, and best practices. For more information, go to www.fmbenchmarking.com.

FM BENCHMARKING is a collaboration between Facility Issues and FMLink.