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Implementing eco-technologies in the modern FM industry

Eco-technology has a key role to play in modern facilities management and offers benefits for both facilities managers and end-users, says Jamal Abdulla Lootah, as he discusses the challenges and opportunities in this emerging field.

| | Aug 27, 2018 | 10:14 am
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In the light of growing environmental concerns across verticals, a new kind of technological concept has inevitably emerged, and it is dubbed as eco-technology. Eco-technology is defined as utilising technological means to meet human needs with minimal ecological disruption by working within the boundaries of the ecosystem.

Jamal Abdulla Lootah

This concept is important in modern facilities management (FM) as buildings and residential units are among the biggest consumers of energy. Eco-technology comes into play when facilities managers roll out plans to maintain all functions in buildings and ensure that they are energy efficient. In an era of heightened FM awareness, devices such as smart thermostats, motion-activated lighting and other energy-saving tools integrated into facilities are becoming more and more popular, because they not only promote eco-friendly functions but also help reduce costs.

The rise of structures integrated with eco-technology tools is a welcome and positive development for the entire FM industry, as these next-generation technologies effectively cut down the process of monitoring and managing buildings – thereby ensuring that they are performing at the optimum level at all times.

In the Middle East region, the Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA) is one of the strongest proponents of eco-technologies. The association has been actively encouraging facility developers to implement and give importance to advanced technologies, which are capable of building and supporting energy-efficient structures. It adds that special attention should be given to the principle of heat production based on the use of individual facilities, with an aim of decreasing the level of energy consumption, without compromising the quality of buildings and the comfort of their internal environment.

Despite the benefits of eco-technology, there are numerous barriers hindering its full implementation. Some of these factors include limited knowledge of the existing eco-technologies, as well as lack of appropriate knowledge-sharing systems, given that best practices are not completely shared and workshops and other similar activities remain very few.

Additionally, perception that implementation is difficult is widespread, further worsened by limited scope of implementation, unsupportive policies, time and funding limitations and skill barriers.

Other challenges are lack of awareness about energy-efficient technologies and their benefits in the FM sector; lack of technical knowledge on sourcing and proper installation of new energy-efficient building materials and technologies; lack of incentives as energy prices are highly subsidised, especially for the lower-income groups; lack of comprehensive and formal regulations for energy efficiency; financial barriers due to a short-term focus on up-front acquisition costs and not on life-cycle costing by builders and buyers and limited; and expensive eco-technologies.

There are, however, effective ways to overcome these challenges. Improving the capacities of federal, state and local authorities on energy-efficient and sustainable housing, as well as building codes and the legislative framework conditions, will help drive eco-technologies in the region and the world. Having a local market for environmentally-friendly technologies, incentivising, and applying more ambitious energy-efficiency standards through investment are some of the measured steps that can be strategically taken to help break barriers.

The use of technology in a sustainable way is becoming more and more imperative. Eco-technology powers lives differently and helps increase environmental awareness in different segments of society. It offers a new substantive orientation and a management process for minimising ecological impacts of economic production, while enhancing competitiveness of firms across industries. Eco-technology is here and an FM community that integrates it properly will reap unimaginable benefits and can secure an unparalleled edge in the 21st century world.

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