Open-access content 22nd January 2009
The biggest challenges that facilities managers are likely to face in 2009 will revolve around doing things differently, rather than not being able to do them at all.
29 January 2009
If it's not already too late, may I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year.
'Prosperous' is one of those relative words, and for some 2009 may not be a year of prosperity at all, given the economic circumstances we face; however the biggest challenges that facilities managers are likely to face will revolve around doing things differently, rather than not being able to do them at all.
So with that background, and looking forward to this year's annual conference which majors on Sustainability in action, I am risking a different perspective on the outlook for recession (or should that be depression?) and hope that I will be forgiven if it upsets anyone.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and this recession is the opportunity that it affords to meet the sustainability challenge. I must make one thing clear - I am very much in favour of sustained economic growth. But I also believe that for it to be sustainable it needs to be controlled and gradual, and created in a manner which is conducive to the environment in which we live and operate. The growth we have witnessed over the last decade or so has patently been at too great a pace, and one that we could not live with for ever - not just from a pure economics stand-point, but also from the environmental outlook.
The result is possibly the worst recession since the war - and with it comes the opportunity to recreate the position we were in prior to it, in a manner that is more fitting to our times. Recession - or negative growth - should mean a reduction in our rate of consumption of energy, raw materials, etc. Our challenge must therefore be twofold: Firstly, to make sure that as the economy falters our consumption patterns decline at the same (or better still, greater) rate such that the platform on which growth recommences is lower than now. Secondly, we must use this extra time that the recession has given us to re-engineer our future growth so that we are better placed to meet our international and moral obligations in reducing our carbon footprint and other environmental damage.
This could be the single most important goal we can set ourselves in digging ourselves out of the economic turmoil we are currently in. Are any politicians listening?