Welcome to the fourth in a series of five reports, on a topic that is related to our work, that is associated with the theme of World FM Day 2020.

Environmentalism and FM

It is pleasing that environmentalism and sustainability are being taken so seriously by a growing number of organisations and are now accepted as part of the scope of projects in facilities management. Customers are also including sustainability within their buying criteria.

The more proactive companies are developing processes that put sustainability at the starting point of a project, rather than simply reducing waste or recycling materials during or at the end of works.

Emissions on site equate to cost. Therefore reducing emissions reduces costs and has a positive effect on the commercial and environmental bottom line. The addition of a fully accredited carbon offset programme means companies can deliver environmental and social benefits for local as well as international communities.

A robust carbon management programme is a statement of intent, with a benchmark from which to base all future emission reduction activities. It’s the point from which companies can set clear and considered targets, create a framework from which to facilitate and manage these activities and to report the ongoing results.

A cost/reward analysis of the programme can be very valuable as this ensures resources are used most effectively, and decisions are made based on data analysis and case study findings rather than generic figures which may not accurately apply to a company’s specific requirements.

So, in order to achieve real world sustainability we must consider more than just the commercials. If something is profitable but not a positive for environment or society, then it isn’t sustainable.

The term ‘the triple bottom line’ was coined by John Elkington in 1994 and takes into account the ecological and social performance achieved by an organisation in addition to financial performance. Looking at the economic reasons for the move to sustainable FM, large cost savings can be made by establishing a robust and effective energy-management policy.

Taking a comprehensive approach to facilities requires top-level leadership and an understanding that all facility aspects (from mechanical to maintenance) can be improved through a stronger environmental approach.

Sustainably operated buildings have a healthier, more productive environment, with better employee attraction/retention and less absenteeism. Ultimately the facilities industry is about people. Results, therefore, require continual investment in technical and behavioural training and improved communication.

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