Environmental sustainability in facilities management3rd of June 2015 Article by Fergus Bird
Fergus Bird, event manager of the Facilities Show taking place in London later this month, talks about the changing face of facilities management influenced by environmental sustainability factors.
Environmental sustainability is not just a popular term widely used in the media and exploited by government, business and spokespeople. It has become a reason for changing perceptions, values, strategies and the way that many companies are doing business today.
There is no doubt that interest in sustainability is growing year after year and the reason is simple - sustainable practices are highly effective. They can make business and users more energy-efficient and advance them technologically while reducing environmental and social risk.
Sustainability in FM
Gone are the days where businesses dismiss the "going green" approach. They are now so much more aware that the benefits reach out further than a catchy headline. They can identify and manage the key aspects that will enable business to flourish both now and in the future.
Sustainability has become a serious factor and a necessity for a number of companies hiring facilities management professionals for leading, implementing, educating and enabling sustainable practice within their business. Sustainability in FM is about making smart decisions that will reduce business's negative impact on the environment.
It is not just about reducing the amount of waste being produced or using less energy but is concerned with developing processes that will lead to businesses having a sustainable orientation.
Implementing sustainability measures
According to Alan Stenson of Ethical Nation, a sustainability consultancy focusing primarily on carbon and energy management services, by implementing sustainability measures in an organisation, you enable it to fully understand the true commercial, social and environmental impact it has. Taking this triple bottom line approach means that all aspects of impact and benefit are considered.
"When we talk about emissions it is important to understand that emissions mean costs. Therefore reducing emissions reduces costs and has a positive effect on the commercial and environmental bottom line. In addition to this, by having a fully accredited carbon offset programme in place you can deliver environmental and social benefits for local and international communities," according to Alan. He also advises to always look for VCS or Gold Standard, and Social Carbon accreditation when considering offsetting.
"The ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) legislation is a perfect example of where implementing a reduction strategy can drive significant benefits, and kick start an on-going programme to reduce costs and emissions. Many companies are, however, unaware of the impending deadline to achieve compliance. Having a sustainability strategy in place will ensure that you are always up to date on your environmental compliance responsibilities," states Alan.
A great example of implementing sustainability measures is the C?Zero system, the world's first carbon neutral cleaning system that Ethical Nation created in partnership with outsourced managed services company Facilicom.
C?Zero system is designed to work alongside the growing needs of Facilicom's FM client base to measure its carbon footprint and to show year-on-year improvements in its emissions level. The process brings together everything that the cleaning industry can offer in environmental and social sustainability best practice as it promotes best working practices throughout.
From an initial evaluation and survey process, Facilicom advises its FM clients on how to minimise heating and lighting energy consumption by smarter working patterns, implementing lower wattage machinery at an optimum frequency, to a technical output specification. Other areas to consider include structuring the workforce in a way to minimise travel burden and maximise the working time benefit for each member of staff and to identify smarter energy-conserving water consumption through controlled dosage systems and minimal chemical usage.
All these efforts are implemented in partnership with the client company. Ownership is shared and the combined benefits contribute to the success of each party's CSR initiatives.
Ethical Nation developed the system by carrying out a PAS2050 compliant Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) from data collected from key test sites across the UK in order to build a framework of emission factors that are specific to the work Facilicom carries out. This means that careful consideration can be given to all reported emission drivers that the company service generates so that a targeted approach towards further reducing emissions can be much more effective.
"Apart from the obvious financial savings of controlling energy consumption, the impact that sustainable best practice can have within a client's own workforce is considerable. Everyone has an environmental heart but for an employee to see that that is shared also by the organisation they work for is a real motivating factor.
Increasingly the best talent is seeking out the best place to use that talent and an organisation which can demonstrate sustainability as a core value will be where they head first", considers Phil Smith from Facilicom, a facilities provider active in the field of cleaning, security, airport services, catering, education, employment agencies, facilities management, construction & contracting, and hotel & catering services throughout Western Europe.
He also thinks that the responsibility for implementing sustainability measures is everyone's. It has to be, as there are so many critical steps in the process so it has to be a team effort. In order to make a start, the service provider must understand the objectives of its client and the reasons why energy efficiency and sustainability is their focus.
The client must understand the parameters of capability that their supply partner has available to them. The supplier's workforce must subscribe to the change in their normal working practice and support an innovative - and sometimes radical - revision of how things have traditionally been delivered, and the client's own colleagues must understand the common goal. Without their buy-in, the best efforts will go unrewarded. So it's an absolute team effort that's required if significant efficiencies are to be realised.
Phil continues: "In order to have a truly effective programme you need engagement across the board. Management can agree a strategy, but unless the whole team is on board it will probably not reach its full potential. Some programmes include incentives where results are rewarded, or shared across a team. If staff have a sense of ownership in a strategy then they are far more likely to make sure it succeeds. If the company benefits, they benefit. At the heart of a sustainability program is the ethos that all parties involved will reap the rewards - customers, staff, management, shareholders, investors, suppliers, communities, etc."
How to measure sustainability
Alan Stenson shares the view that by creating a robust carbon management programme you make a statement of intent, and set a benchmark from which to base all future emission reduction activities. This enables you to set clear and considered targets, create a framework from which to facilitate and manage these activities and to report on the on-going results.
Most programmes will be created for a specific time frame (between three and five years) with targeted stages. A cost/reward analysis is paramount 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 your specific requirements.
So, in order to achieve true 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.
To register for Facilities Show 2015: www.facilitiesshow.com/Ceris-Burns/