Management matters - Linking management of buildings to environmental impacts in a pilot study of Supermarket buildings
Report, 2008

This report is based on a pilot study about how the environment is affected by the management of supermarket buildings and provides some ideas answering that complex question. It also suggests models on how such results can be illustrated. The study regards two buildings used as supermarkets, the building structures are similar but the management strategies differed. Buildings used for supermarkets are complex buildings. They are technologically advanced and many different stakeholders have interest in the buildings. The management of such a building is technically more demanding than a regular building, like an office or a residential building. The management of these buildings is also complex in the sense that different sections of building could be managed by different companies and that many specialists are needed to service much of the equipment in the buildings. Different buildings are managed in different ways. The main differences are if the company that owns the building also occupies the building and if the management staff is employed by the company that owns the building or not. This is a form of outsourcing. The outsourcing created a management environment with more actors in the network that is managing the building. With more actors, there are also more relations between the actors, more contracts and more stakeholders with different interests. This study is based on the EAO (Environmental Assessment of Organising) framework developed by Baumann. The framework suggests that there is a link between how the operation of products is managed and the operation’s environmental performance. The operation in this pilot study is the running of buildings used as supermarkets. The results from the study show that there are differences in the management strategies between different buildings, even though the supermarkets were part of the same chain. These differences in management could in some cases lead to differing environmental performances. The instances when management affects environmental performance can be discussed in terms of interactions between the management and the environment. This report holds several examples; one is basic and deals with the issue of lighting. When a light fitting is mounted there is an option whether it should be a low energy consuming or a conventional one. The choice might seem easy at a first glance but the choice is complex since there are numerous actors with different opinions involved in such a decision. For example, is it the actor that is paying the energy bill that is paying the additional cost for the energy efficient lights? The purpose of the pilot study was to test the EAO ideas in a real setting, to examine the relationship between environmental performance and management of the buildings in detail and also to develop methodology to conduct this type of research. The findings from this pilot are that there is a relationship between the environmental performance of a building and the way that it is managed. However, to be able to quantify and qualify that relationship, some modifications to the research design are necessary. The relationship between the management of the building and its environmental performance is illustrated in two models in this report. The models are based on the idea that there are two environments, the organizational environment and the natural environment, previously referred to as management and environment. The idea is that there are chains of actions occurring in these two environments. For example a certain pollutant is emitted in the natural environment triggers a number of actions in this environment, for example a type of species might die, and the extinction of this species causes another species to struggle for food and so on. Similarly in the organizational environment, a certain event will make certain staff member to react. Using the example of the lights again, when a light goes out a staff member in the supermarket will report the broken light to the person responsible for the upkeep of the building, then they will report that to the maintenance personnel, who then will change the light. Depending on what other people in this chain have decided they will replace the broken light with the appropriate light fitting. The model illustrates how these two environments interact. Several interactions between the two environments are presented in a short story format in this report. The stories are snapshots of management of buildings, they are chosen to illustrate how things that might seem as straightforward maintenance, have complex organizational networks attached to them. The organizational networks are determining how tasks are carried out in the buildings. The stories connect the environment with the organizational networks. The second model shows the complexity of the management of a single appliance in a supermarket. It shows the number of actors and their influence in an interesting way. One of the recommendations for future studies is to focus on one or two appliances in the building rather than on the entire building. The reason for this recommendation is that the management of a building used as a supermarket is very complex and to measure its environmental performance is a very large task in itself. If one or two appliances were studied the extent of data would be less and the environmental performance would be easier to measure, as a consequence of this, the relation between the management of the product and its environmental impact will be clearer and easier to understand. The link between the two environments are established further in this report, Brunklaus (2005) established the link in her licentiate thesis. This link is interesting and this pilot demonstrates the need for further investigation to the issue with modified investigation methods. This report is also suggesting that participant observations would be useful a tool in this research field, also in future studies.


Örjan Lundberg

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

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Other Environmental Engineering

Report / Division of Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology: 2008:3

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