Facilities Show survey reveals the importance of sustainability to FM

In early 2020, Facilities Show asked almost 300 facilities managers to explain the importance of sustainability to their organisation.

The results were enormously positive, with around 80% of respondents declaring sustainability to be a major priority at board- or departmental level. Even more positively, sustainability isn’t just about cost savings and economic concerns.

Although 50% of respondents did view potential cost savings as a benefit of adopting sustainable practice, 65% simply thought it was the right thing to do. Indeed, when creating a sustainability strategy, just 62% of respondents included economic sustainability, compared to environmental impact at 93% and social responsibility at 85%. This demonstrates that sustainability is seen as a positive for its own sake, rather than simply an economic concern.

Sustainability is evidently viewed as a key responsibility of facilities management teams: they are included in the drive towards better sustainability practice in some respect around 97% of the time, having sole responsibility for 26% of respondents.

Only 7% of respondents didn’t believe sustainability would become a high priority for FM teams in the next two years, while 64% strongly agreed it would.

Core concepts and sustainable procurement

It was also positive to see that respondents were, by-and-large, familiar with the core concepts of sustainability. The majority of respondents claimed to be familiar with ideas such as ‘net zero’, ‘BREEAM’ (a sustainability assessment method), ‘social sustainability’, ‘ISO 14001’ (the major environmental management requirement) and ‘carbon offsetting’, demonstrating the importance of sustainability in the day-to-day role of facilities management professionals.

It should come as no surprise, then, that almost 60% of respondents’ organisations employ sustainable procurement practices, with 26% claiming they wouldn’t appoint any supplier that couldn’t demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Indeed, 71% would require—at the very least—a copy of a potential supplier’s environmental policy, with an incredible 30% adding a sustainability policy, ISO accreditation, modern slavery policy, and proof of minimum wage compliance to that demand.

The responses to this survey highlight how important sustainability has become to facilities management, with sustainable practice fast becoming a key requirement for procurement, and the major trends and concepts associate with sustainability becoming bread-and-butter for the profession.These ideas will be discussed in greater detail at Facilities Show on 18-20 May 2021 at ExCeL London.

Sustainability is a major theme for 2021, reflected in an extensive, expert-led programme of seminars, thousands of the latest products demonstrated and showcased by hundreds of exhibitors, and plenty of guidance to help FMs introduce better sustainable practice in their organisations.