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04 November 2019 Herpreet Kaur Grewal

This month we find out how businesses are addressing climate change. 

Climate change has become a much more important topic of late. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says global warming is unequivocal, that human influence on the climate system is evident, and that greenhouse gases are at the highest rate they have ever been in history.

This has led to flurries of activity including the very visible Extinction Rebellion movement and governments all over the world taking action by setting solid policies.

Recently, the Better Buildings Partnership – a collaboration of the UK’s commercial property owners – also signed a commitment to tackle the growing risks of climate change through the delivery of net zero-carbon real estate portfolios by 2050.

Energy firm EDF says simple energy-efficiency changes such as using energy-saving light bulbs could make a difference to carbon emissions. These small changes are in the remit of the FM while bigger changes may lie at boardroom level.


This month we asked: what projects and processes – big and small – are you involved in, and how do you expect you and your work will be affected as the pressure to address environmental concerns increases?

Martin Wayman

Monitor your impact

 ISS UK has monitored and reported publicly its carbon footprint for a number of years. Reducing our carbon emissions is one of nine core ambitions under our corporate responsibility (CR) strategy – [email protected] In our 2018 CR report, we highlighted that our carbon footprint stood at 15,000 tonnes of C02 equivalent and this represented a 29 per cent reduction on our 2015 baseline.

Our vehicle fleet continues to dominate our carbon footprint, with 92 per cent of emissions derived from fuel use from the vans and cars used by ISS employees. To improve this footprint we have deployed telematic devices in our van fleet to monitor driver behaviour and reduce idling and harsh braking and accelerating. This delivered significant carbon reductions and our telematics provider has granted us gold status for the second year running.

The ISS estate continues to see improved performance with a 50 per cent reduction in kWh/m² between 2017 and 2018, and energy efficiency resulting in carbon reductions. Energy-saving opportunities form a new element of our continually improving ISO 50001 energy management system. The element provides an online tool for our estate to implement energy innovations. This streamlines the process to approach energy and sustainability innovations of all sizes and cost into our estate.

Martin Wayman, head of CR, ISS

Mike Boxall 

Business benchmarking

 Businesses want to benchmark their FM services for reasons such as increasing efficiency, cost savings and improving compliance. Recently we’ve had clients reach out to us because they want to improve sustainability. 

The importance of sustainability to both businesses and consumers has sent a ripple effect through FM. As companies strive to improve their CSR efforts, in-house teams are held to increasingly higher standards in a bid to minimise their environmental impact.

Supply chains have also been affected. Tender documents now often include sustainability as a key part of any successful bid. From large corporations down to SMEs and start-ups, there is an expectation of strong sustainability values and practices.

We expect to see more companies benchmarking their services to stay competitive. It’s also becoming almost non-negotiable for the younger workforce that their employer places a high value on sustainability. Benchmarking can and will continue to help companies achieve this.

Mike Boxall is managing director at Sitemark

Yeshna Mistry

Creating a brighter future

 Generally, people are far more aware of environmental issues now and they want to make the most responsible choices they can. We have taken this as an opportunity to increase our communication with clients about the work we are already doing, and encourage them to support ethical initiatives too. Each of our sites has specific goals in place to ensure continuous improvement in sustainability across our whole business. 

Vacherin supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We share the value of creating a brighter future. We are involved in national projects such as The Food Foundation’s Peas Please to increase the consumption of vegetables to promote health and wellbeing, as well as more local projects to reduce waste and aid disadvantaged groups.

We believe we can create the greatest impact through collaboration with our partners, suppliers and clients so we are continuing to work closely with them to increase the impact of each positive step we take. 

The increasing sense of urgency arising from the latest reports on the climate crisis ensures that environmental responsibility is at the top of everyone’s agenda. Organisations must be willing to work together and learn from one another.

Yeshna Mistry, lead – sustainability & CSR, Vacherin

Antony Law 

Chemical ethics 

 Rather than reacting to pressure from consumers or clients, we try to lead the way in both the cleaning and FM industries. As such, we don’t expect our work to be affected per se – we have been implementing changes and will continue to do so.

Single-use plastic has been one of the major themes of environmental concern in 2019. This year we have reduced packaging and plastic waste by replacing five of our top cleaning products with dissolvable sachets and expect to eliminate 60,000 plastic containers from operations in the first year.

Many sites at Churchill now use Purex, a chemical-free cleaning product, whereby water passes through seven stages of microfiltration. The result has been an 80 per cent reduction of chemicals used. 

Churchill has also introduced its sustainability initiative ‘Make One Change’ to encourage staff to change something about their lifestyle to benefit either their own wellbeing or the environment. 

Antony Law is MD at Portfolio by Churchill

Ross Houghton

Be proactive, not reactive

 Atalian Servest has developed a new strategy for 2020 that will further embed sustainability and CSR initiatives, ensuring every single aspect of the business is encompassed. Our core focus is to reduce energy usage and emissions and we are in the process of expanding the scope of ISO 50001 to measure and monitor energy consumption across the whole UK property portfolio. This includes introducing electric vehicles and continually being creative with producing attractive plant-based meals in our catering offering.

Sustainability should not be about being reactive. Proactivity is critical to being able to cover all aspects of environmental sustainability and spearhead positive change. We’ve adopted a comprehensive prequalification process to ensure suppliers we work with adhere to the environmental certifications we expect, and that supply is sourced as locally as possible. As expectations rise, every part of the supply chain will be scrutinised in detail.

Communication and collaboration, both internally and externally, about environmental best practice and businesses performance, are key to ensuring that all stakeholders are working together on a journey to more sustainable practices. Only with communication and collaboration can we make the greatest impact.  


Ross Houghton, CSR manager, Atalian Servest