Corporate real estate leaders achieve their greatest breakthrough results when they collaborate with other corporate support functions, such as finance, HR, and IT. I’m finding that the best solutions in corporate energy efficiency, carbon footprint, and sustainability are collaboration-driven to the extreme. An obvious example is the role of HR in employee engagement programs that make sustainability initiatives successful. The connections to IT may be less obvious. Here are five key considerations for your CRE + IT plan:
1. Data management: Sustainability is a data- and information-rich program. Expect to solve for carbon accounting, project workflow, and myriad other issues.
2. Building controls: I’m seeing increasing opportunities to use data from meters and automated controls in to leverage a “smart” portfolio. For example, occupancy sensors enable CRE staff to identify vacant areas so that the delivery of heat and air conditioning to those areas can be reduced.
3. In-office productivity: Let’s just say you don’t want energy hogs sucking up your plug loads. ENERGY STAR computers and office machines should be coordinated with IT, and battery-powered laptops might be useful tools for demand response days.
4. Portable productivity devices: Employee mobility supports sustainable goals, but out-of-office communications from email to “follow-me” phone technology, to cloud-based network apps read on handheld devices all require more sophisticated security.
5. Remote collaboration platforms: Knowledge management systems are not new but are you using them effectively? Are employees in the habit of firing up screen-sharing programs for all concalls so that every participant can contribute the best ideas? And if you still think social media is just for teenagers, you’re missing it.
Changes in IT organizations such as greater server virtualization and software-as-a-service enable not only productivity but also corporate sustainability, by reducing space needs and shifting energy loads out of data centers. Network security is paramount but flexibility weighs in, and this is where CRE needs to influence.