Sustainable procurement is an initiative where organisations meet their needs for utilities, goods and services in a way that minimises damage to the environment, while achieving value for money and benefitting not only the company, but society and the economy.
By using sustainable procurement practices, businesses can not only “do their bit” for the environment but also support their claims of responsible corporate citizenship and save money in the process, generating positive reputation, stakeholder loyalty and an improved balance sheet. Sustainable practices can include everything from reducing supply chain emissions, improving energy efficiency, and sustainable transport, through to sustainable agriculture.
By introducing a sustainable procurement strategy and setting sustainability targets, organisations can directly balance the business case for the environmental impact of climate change with the cost of investment in green options and how these can deliver value over the long-term.
If a company wants to be recognised for sustainable facilities management, they will also need to follow the procurement processes and rules of BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method), a global accredited environmental rating scheme for buildings. It uses third-party certification of the assessment of an asset’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance. BREEAM’s Green Guide specification contains more than 1,500 specifications used in various types of buildings, with a ranking system graded from A+ to E, where A+ represents the best environmental performance/ lowest environmental impact and E, the worst.
For sustainable procurement managers, lighting offers a fast and easy way to make significant progress towards their targets. Organisations switching from traditional solutions to LED technology will immediately see huge energy and cost savings as an LED bulb uses at least 75 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent, fluorescent and halogen lighting options. For facilities managers concerned with the immediate cost of replacement bulbs, and keeping the status quo running, the significant short-term outlay required to upgrade to LED can be off-putting. However, the long-term ROI is undeniable with LEDs offering longer lifespan, lower maintenance and running costs and greater opportunities for intelligent environmental management. The energy savings gained from switching to LEDs can often enable businesses to recoup their initial investment in just a few years.
LEDs can replace all manner of lighting solutions, from indoor industrial and office lighting, through to outdoor road or parking lamps, retail signage and even specialist horticultural lighting found in greenhouses and vertical farms. By working closely with manufacturers, procurement teams can ensure that their lighting is fully tailored to their needs, whilst ensuring that their sustainability targets are met.
When budgets are tight, businesses may be tempted to look at lowest initial cost for their signage but should instead consider the total lifetime cost compared with the quality of that product. Signs typically only last between five and ten years. Once a product is older than this, many retailers may look to change their branding or signage. However, opting for a cheaper upfront price can prove to be a false economy. Low quality lighting can fail earlier in its lifetime, changing colour and brightness to a point that can damage a brand image, making a building look old and tired before its time. In such cases, customers have little option other than to invest in new signage, leading to more waste going into landfill and higher overall costs to the business.
By using LED modules that are durable and impermeable to moisture and atmospheric pollutants, businesses can save further costs as the LEDs wouldn’t degrade, need to be replaced or be maintained with the same regularity as older lighting solutions. Businesses should also look to pay extra attention to the drivers of signage lighting solutions and ensure that there are fewer points of potential failure in the power supply, as this is the most common cause of failure, materials wastage (and associated carbon footprint) and additional cost after installation issues. For example, by ensuring the maximum case temperature can bear 10 per cent more than other solutions (i.e. 60⁰C vs 50⁰C), Current by GE’s solutions can enable customers to potentially double the lifespan of a power supply when run at that maximum temperature.
With many businesses having already reduced their costs by 30 to 40 per cent through switching to LED lighting solutions and following sustainable procurement best practice, many are now asking, “what next?” Adding a layer of intelligence allows building managers to take a far more proactive approach to environmental control and shave more savings from their energy bills. Current by GE’s lighting fixtures are able to integrate the company’s Daintree wireless system, which collects data on illuminance, temperature, occupancy, and humidity to provide more insight than ever before into how different areas of a space are used. Sensors to monitor other environmental factors like noise and CO2 can also be added to the same data network, providing even more comprehensive insights that can save businesses a potential 20 to 30 per cent in energy costs.
Technology innovations of this kind have the potential to make a huge difference in the fight against global warming, enabling businesses to access smarter, more efficient systems that can help to minimise our impact on the planet.