Gone is Green, hello Sustainability!

Updated: Aug 29, 2018

Remember when the term ‘Green’ was the new buzz word? Green buildings, green cleaning products, green purchasing policies… Gone is Green, hello Sustainability!

What is ‘Sustainability’ in FM? Meeting environmental requirements in the business of facility management.

For Business Owners, sustainability is a big concept; so big in fact, that businesses are trying to find a focus that means the most to the organization, something everyone can understand if money and time are going to be invested in a sustainable solution.

With rising energy costs, energy management has become the key focus; reduce utility bills which in turn reduces climate change. Lowering consumption noticeably affects the bottom-line of all operational expenses and increases world stewardship towards less pollution.

Through simple modifications such as installing new lighting, daylight controls, room sensors or adjusting temperature and air quality, your building occupants will start to modify their behaviour. Now your business cases can be successful because there are expected measures put in place to report on the ROI (Return on Investment).

For the Facility Manager, sustainability has always been a way of life, even before energy consciousness arose. FMers have always had to create the best possible working and living environments in managing the organizational requirements of their buildings for the least amount of expense:

  • the procurement of products and materials

  • contracts for services

  • the management of the long-term physical capital asset renewal

  • sustainable solutions based on best quality for the right price

  • awareness of the total life cycle of products & services & the supply chain involved

In today’s work environment it is important to have a policy in place, supported by senior management. If the FM department has a mandate for sustainable practices, the Facility Manager can provide solid evidence to support Corporate Social Responsibility reporting (CSR), making senior management look responsible.

While many companies now have an Energy Management Plan, most do not have a Sustainability Policy. In addition to energy management, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) identifies 7 areas of environmental stewardship and sustainability (ESS). These should become part of your Corporate Sustainability Policy.

These are the management of Water, Materials and Resources, the Workplace, Indoor Environmental Quality, Business Services, Waste, and the Property Site.

Just as employees and management have made the culture change to be more energy conscious and practice workplace recycling, they will become familiar to new sustainability practices.

I believe that one day, in the FM industry, the term ‘sustainability’ will fade away because when doing business, FMers will be doing the right thing, for the right reason with the best quality at the right price by using life-cycle cost analysis with environmental considerations. Sustainability will become the instinctive way do to business.

Need help to get you to the next step?

Two highly recommended resources for learning about sustainable practices are:

Written by: Robb Dods, Certified Facility Manager (CFM) and a Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP), Robb is the FM team lead for the Facilities & Fleet Management division at the Region of Waterloo on the Asset Management System Implementation Project. He is also an instructor and subject matter expert on the advisory committee for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies regarding Facility Management courses, and an educator in FM and AM topics.

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