HOUSTON - The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has released Operations and Maintenance Benchmarks, Research Report #32, a study outlining the facility trends affecting workplaces throughout North America. Among the new report’s findings are that companies are adjusting their thermostats higher or lower by an average of 1°F, compared to data from three years ago, in an effort to minimize energy use and cut costs.

The study provides data from 1,422 facilities comprising more than 600 million square feet of commercial space, representing organizations from Fortune 500 companies to the U.S. government. It examines built environment trends in 34 industries and in various facility types.

The report includes developments in sustainability trends. Of those surveyed, only 11 percent report managing buildings with no green elements or certification, with 28 percent reporting one or more certified buildings and 61 percent saying their buildings contain green elements but are not certified.

In an effort to reduce utility consumption, the report says facility professionals are going to great lengths to modernize building equipment and implement controls such as sensors and building automation systems. Changing the operating hours of a building’s heating and cooling systems and adjusting thermostat settings are two prime examples of how facility managers have achieved energy savings with little expense involved. When compared to IFMA’s 2006 study, the average summer low thermostat setting has risen a degree to 72°, while the average winter low setting has dropped a degree to 69°.

The amount of electricity buildings consume on average continues to decrease as more sustainable practices are being implemented. Survey respondents who manage buildings with no green elements report using an average of 82 kBtu of electricity per square foot, while those whose buildings contain green elements but not certification report using an average of 72 kBtu per square foot. For those who manage certified green buildings, electricity use is even lower, at 69 kBtu per square foot. In total, utilities constitute the largest component of a facility’s operating cost, with electricity use alone making up 25 percent of the entire cost of operation.

“While focusing on providing healthy and productive work environments, facility professionals have found ways to reduce energy consumption, conserve water, harness natural sources of light and ventilation, and minimize waste, all without increasing their operational costs,” said Shari Epstein, IFMA director of research. “This year’s results demonstrate that by implementing a variety of cost effective practices, workplace professionals have improved the operational efficiency of their portfolios and contributed positively to their organization’s bottom lines.”

For more information about Operations and Maintenance Benchmarks, Research Report #32, go to www.ifma.org/tools/research/32.cfm.

Publication date:06/15/2009