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Facilicom introduces C2Zero carbon neutral cleaning23rd of September 2013
C?Zero is a cleaning system developed by cleaning services provider Facilicom that assesses the carbon emissions and impact of each element of the cleaning process in order to establish an accurate carbon footprint. The company is now offering this programme on its contracts and ECJ editor Michelle Marshall visited the London office of global asset management firm BlackRock to see how it operates.
Facilicom is a building services provider operating throughout Western Europe. In the UK the company’s core focus is in cleaning and security, with many high profile clients in its portfolio. As part of its drive to be more environmentally focused Facilicom Cleaning Services began working on a programme to become a carbon neutral company in 2010. It was Phil Smith, the commercial director, who led the project, working with Alan Stenson, managing director of Ethical Nation.
Ethical Nation is a UK-based energy and carbon management consultancy, whose services include greenhouse gas (GHG) footprinting, climate change strategy development, business and product neutrality and carbon offsetting.
Stenson explains how the Facilicom project started. “We wanted to set a benchmark so the first question to ask is: what is the company doing that is affecting the environment? Then of course it’s vital that any measures put in place work socially, environmentally and commercially. We assessed the HQ operations of Facilicom and decided together to take the policy forward and make it part of the company’s culture at its operations throughout the UK.”
“Everything is based on a basic SME carbon calculation, which takes into account all emissions from a building and anything to do with that building,” adds Phil Smith. “There was a heavy emphasis on our fleet of vehicles and the electricity consumed, for example. The greenhouse gas protocol was then used to calculate emissions at all our buildings around the country.” It’s only then that improvements could be made.
“In our case much of the improvement came down to general awareness by our colleagues and some common sense,” Smith goes on. “That means more focus on the energy used by computers, heating, telephones, etc. It was vital our colleagues changed their behaviour.”
Over a period of time the Facilicom fleet of vehicles was converted to those using either low-emission systems or hybrid technology and a recycling programme for cleaning machines was implemented.
Stenson explains the reasoning behind the drive for companies to reduce their carbon footprint. “If your emissions are reduced your costs are reduced. It is not just the ‘responsible thing to do’ – it also makes sense commercially.”
Facilicom’s efforts to become carbon neutral at its UK head offices were very laudable, however of the company’s 2,600 employees just 50 of them work there – the vast majority of them work at clients’ sites. Smith explains: “It was obvious we could have very little impact with the carbon neutral initiative unless we took it to our clients’ sites and continued the project there.
“Cleaning generally has a relatively low impact on the environment when compared to other industries in any case, and we felt that allowed us to focus in on the detail and make improvements year on year.”
So Facilicom started to investigate the idea of carbon neutral cleaning, with the ambition to be a more responsible company, employer and service partner.
Smith continues: “We contemplated how we could present this idea to our clients – over 400 of them – that we service every day. We talked about our cleaners’ activities: vacuum cleaning, mopping and waste disposal to name just a few. Could we find a mechanism to measure and monitor emissions? And could we realistically cover all aspects of our service delivery?”
In June 2011 Facilicom began testing their C?Zero system at one of its most prestigious contract clients – the EMEA headquarters of global asset management firm BlackRock at Draper’s Gardens in the City of London. Covering an area of 33,000 squares metres, there are 2,500 BlackRock personnel in the building every day, and typically 200 visitors. Across the 13 floors there are client areas, conference facilities, meeting rooms and hundreds of workstations.
Facilicom liaised with machine manufacturers and other suppliers to determine whether they could provide data on power usage and emissions to the level required. A profile of each cleaner and calculation of the environmental impact of each activity was then compiled. This resulted in a system that could assess and offset all Scope 1, 2 and 3 activities across Facilicom’s activities and service delivery – C?Zero.
C?Zero is a cleaning system which assesses the carbon emissions and impact of every one of its component parts in order to establish its carbon footprint as accurately as possible. The component parts fall into three distinct categories:
• Scope 1 - Direct emissions from Facilicom owned vehicles and fuel burned on the company’s sites for energy producing purposes.
• Scope 2 - Indirect energy emissions from Facilicom’s consumption of purchased electricity, heat, steam and cooling.
• Scope 3 - All other indirect emissions such as business flights, travel in non-company owned vehicles, hotel stays, couriered items, etc at all operating sites – including those of Facilicom’s clients.
Scopes 1 and 2 are relatively simple to calculate and that was the first part of the process in Facilicom achieving a carbon neutral status. Scope 3 covers everything else. So at the BlackRock office Facilicom assessed the carbon impact of every piece of cleaning equipment, whether it was a tub vacuum, a mop, ride-on scrubber dryer or steam cleaner.
Ian Williamson, who is the key account manager for Facilicom on the BlackRock contract, was responsible for much of the groundwork and describes the level of analysis involved. “We assessed the average time taken using each piece of equipment during each day – making sure to address infrequent use of specialist equipment for periodic tasks – and even analysed the water consumption necessary for mopping and damp wiping activities. The energy used by our vacuum cleaners was analysed which later prompted our subsequent switch to lower wattage models in year two.
“We also took into account the time of day cleaning operations took place on site, and whether cleaning teams being there required additional lighting and heating to be provided when there were no other building occupants on site.”
Facilicom then addressed the activities of sub-contractors who were bringing their services to the site. Finally the impact of travelling to and from work for all site-specific company personnel was calculated – considering the journeys of those who drive, those who take public transport and those who cycle or walk.
“When we presented our idea for the C?Zero system to BlackRock it wasn’t a completed project by any means – we needed a test site to implement it and BlackRock was very forward-thinking in its willingness to allow us to do that,” Smith points out.
Stuart Cranna, director of corporate services for BlackRock comments: “The potential benefits were very clear to us. One of my key questions, however, was: how auditable is this system? Facilicom helped us to understand what was ‘in scope’ of the programme and what wasn’t. That was vital for us because once a company declares itself as being carbon neutral it becomes open to scrutiny.”
“As a company we are always keen to encourage innovation from our suppliers,” adds Adam Ayers, BlackRock’s corporate services associate at Draper’s Gardens. “At first C?Zero simply looked like a carbon offsetting programme but we soon discovered it was much more than that.”
Year on year reductions
Cranna continues: “As a company BlackRock does not simply want to offset carbon emissions, we want to see a reduction year on year. Our environmental and sustainability policy is really being driven forward this year, at all of our UK properties globally. We are proud we can say our cleaning is carbon neutral.”
And in the final analysis the figures speak for themselves. In year one the service was only applied at Draper’s Gardens in London, with the scope extending to other BlackRock UK locations in year two. The result for Draper’s Gardens saw overall emissions for that site drop by 4.6 per cent.
Overall, energy consumption has accounted for 95 per cent of the year on year reduction. Water consumption was reduced by 25 per cent year on year. Smith says this was achieved through “smarter operating” and the introduction of a controlled cleaning chemical dosing system. Window cleaning operations were also improved though a more water-conscious approach.
He goes on: “While bus/rail/taxi travel remained static from year one to year two we also drove a five per cent improvement into our deliveries process by aligning chemical and consumable stock deliveries into a standing order routine.”
Having the full backing of its client has clearly been instrumental to the success of C?Zero at BlackRock and for Facilicom this has become a unique selling point when tendering for contracts. And for companies like BlackRock it is now essential their suppliers share the same values as they do within their business. “We want our supply partners’ sustainability policies to have as much in common with ours as possible,” says Cranna.
“Sustainable procurement is in its infancy but it is moving higher up the agenda. Now it is certainly part of our decision-making process and we ask for relevant information when putting contracts out to tender. Questions we ask our potential suppliers may include: ‘what is your company doing for the community, for the marketplace?’”
Implementing sustainability policies such as carbon emissions reduction simply because it is the responsible thing to do is not enough – it has to make business sense too. Phil Smith points out: “There is a financial prompt to these initiatives because any conscientious company is looking at ways of reducing energy consumption – it saves money.”
This is also certainly true from BlackRock’s point of view, as Ayers explains: “Pushing through a purely sustainability benefit will not work in the current economic climate. There must be an economic benefit for the client as well. It has to make sense to the three bottom lines - social, environmental and commercial.”
This has been proven at the BlackRock building thanks to the more detailed analysis of cleaners’ productivity levels following the introduction of more environmentally beneficial tools and equipment. Smith says: “Cleaners on this contract are reaching 700 square metres per hour output, which in turn results in cost benefits for the client – again making sense to the triple bottom line.”
Having achieved such impressive results with the C?Zero system so far, Facilicom is ambitious about how the programme can move forward and BlackRock is also keen to see this happen. “Continuous improvement is what it’s all about for us,” says Ayers. Cranna adds: “We can now prove what we are achieving thanks to the data produced, and knowing that makes it possible to make improvements.”
Smith explains the plan for the next step. “There is then great potential to broaden the scope of C?Zero upstream and downstream – the manufacturers we buy from, for example, and our other partners and suppliers.
“For example our thinking has already filtered down to the building’s washroom services supplier, the pest control company and the window cleaners. We are preaching a carbon neutral message and many people now want to get involved.”
With this in mind Facilicom is now developing a partner accreditation system whereby its key third party subcontracted service providers will commit to becoming carbon neutral themselves, while also adopting the principles of C?Zero in their provision of services to Facilicom.
The target for year three of the programme is also to double the improvement rate and achieve a 10 per cent reduction in emissions for 2013/14. “Our focus will be on travel, as this is our net largest consumption level,” explains Smith. “This could possibly involve a bus/rail mandatory travel mode or car sharing coupled with a potential incentive for pedestrian or bicycle travel.
“We also anticipate the introduction of even lower wattage vacuum cleaners, which will be a further contributor to our energy reduction targets.”
Facilicom is confident now that C?Zero produces results and real cost efficiencies and at this site that has brought very real benefits for the cleaners too as BlackRock has reinvested those savings to enable the contractor to pay the Living Wage at all its UK locations.
Stuart Cranna concludes: “Having a carbon measurement system at our buildings has enabled us to focus on our cleaning operation and bring a new dimension to it – the ability to quantify and measure has been invaluable.”
And in Phil Smith’s opinion, this is an aspect of the cleaning sector which must improve. “We must ask ourselves, how can we continually improve? The key benefit of the process we have undertaken is that it prompts everyone to assess how they perform. Carbon consumption levels must go down and water usage must reduce.
“The cleaning industry in general is often criticised for being complacent about such important issues – now there are methods for benchmarking and measurement of performance which are not only environmentally responsible, they also make business sense.”