Energy for facility managers

Chantal Spruit is proud. Her bachelor’s thesis, entitled ‘Facility manager, hier krijg je energie van!’ (Facility managers get energy from this!) was awarded the FMN Student Award 2018 by Facility Management Nederland. A real honour. Since then, Chantal has received noticeably more connection requests on LinkedIn.

You don’t just win the FMN Student Award like that. Your thesis must have an impact on the facility specialisation and even on society. Big words. But, in all honesty, Chantal Spruit has created something useful in both areas. The jury spoke of her helping facility managers gain greater insights into managing energy consumption in commercial premises. This also has a societal impact. Chantal explains. “The built environment in the Netherlands is responsible for 30 to 40 percent of CO2 emissions. If we can ensure that buildings are more sustainable, this will reduce CO2 emissions. And this is good for society.”


In her thesis, Chantal describes one way in which facility managers can manage their energy consumption. “The built environment has an energy label. This is mandatory, but only when a commercial property is sold, rented or delivered. So it’s quite limited. The users’ label that I developed and that I describe in my thesis helps facility managers manage energy savings and CO2 reduction throughout the usable lifetime of the building. The users’ label requires minimal technical knowledge. The facility manager can start using it immediately.”


“At first, I didn’t know what to write my bachelor’s about. Yes, about sustainability and buildings. But I didn’t want to be linked to one company that would supervise me according to its own interests.” She is satisfied about the support she got at THUAS. “I was coached by my lecturer, Hans Nieuwenhoven. Apart from this, I adapted my thesis entirely to the research scope of the Energy in Transition Research Group that develops knowledge about making the energy chain in the built environment more sustainable. My supervisor in the research group was Frans Joosstens. Both always acted according to my interest as a student.”


Writing a thesis is nerve-wracking. Stressful. “This is why I would advise my fellow students to only write a thesis on something that they really like. Then you stay motivated, even if it’s not going according to plan.” Chantal took little time off. After her bachelor, she went straight on to a master of sustainability at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden. “Sustainability is part of the mindset of all Swedes.” She wants to finish her master in summer with a thesis in which she describes the interaction of sustainability between buildings at urban level. “And then I’m going on a really long holiday …!”


After that long holiday, she will not immediately go looking for a job as facility manager in a company. “In my future job, I want to make facility managers more aware of their role in the transition to a sustainable society. I believe that they can make a big difference.”