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Sara Bean, Editor of FMJ, shares her views on what the coming year will hold for facilities management.
Facilities managers are continuing to work hard in mitigating the impact of the pandemic, from supporting staff working from home to keeping essential buildings operational. However, as we approach the two-year anniversary of the first lockdown, the FM sector has moved beyond surviving the disruption caused by Covid-19 to focus on the future - most particularly devising sustainability strategies.
In the Autumn of 2021 we held a meeting with the FMJ Editorial Steering Committee which is made up of senior client side FMs, and they assured us that first and foremost, sustainability remains their number one priority. They were keen for sustainability to refer to the wider definition of the term, i.e. economic, environmental, and social factors.
Meeting the three sustainability pillars, ‘people, planet and profits’, requires FM services companies and their FM clients to work together to help cut carbon emissions, improve the wellbeing of staff and support both the local economy and the supply chain.
Allied to these challenges is the realisation that FM needs to go beyond Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) parameters. When referring to their values, organisations are now all about working to improve their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings.
According to the latest Summary Report from the Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI), FM organisations are making progress across the three ESG pillars at an operational level, by introducing sustainability on the ground, both internally and externally. However, although the vast majority of FM companies have set net zero commitments, there remain some gaps, such as an inability to measure supply chain sustainability targets.
There is help at hand, however from the Supply Chain Sustainability School, an initiative which represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains. It reports that it has made some progress over the past year in helping organisations and their supply chains create a more sustainable built environment. FMs can utilise the supply chain school as a tool to help them understand the value of improving their sustainability outcomes and encourage the adoption of business processes that allow and embed sustainability throughout the supply chain.
Another key finding in the SFMI Index was improvements in achieving social value. Here FM suppliers and their clients are introducing management, design and digital innovations to help improve environmental performance and enable them to be employers of choice. Technological innovations, many of which
will be on show at this year’s Facilities Show which is making a welcome return to London ExCeL from 17th – 19th May, can range from utilising the
latest digital technology to help measure the quality of FM services (e.g. how often and thoroughly a washroom is cleaned) to offering building occupants
access to the latest apps that help enhance their user experience.
Over the coming year, the FM sector will be working hard to meet net carbon targets, in adopting the most efficient energy and waste/recycling management methods, all while working to ensure organisations remain operational and the wider economy solvent.
Whatever the next twist and turn the pandemic brings, sustainability in all its forms will remain a keystone of the FM remit.
Author: Sara Bean, Editor of FMJ. Published 6/1/22