A white paper published by the Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI) provides FM organisations with a framework that can help propel them to leading sustainability status.
Sustainable Ambition for the FM Sector outlines the challenges and opportunities for FM service providers during a period of massive social and political turmoil. It aims to provide the industry with the building blocks to transform environmental, social and governance (ESG) sustainability performance.
The authors state that the tumultuous events of 2020, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the resurgence of a global Black Lives Matter movement for social justice, should spur FM to effect real and sustainable change.
Following the pandemic, FM organisations will be responsible for managing operational changes within corporate real estate and the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. As one of the world’s biggest employers, the sector has the ability to enhance diversity and social mobility through the recruitment and professional development of its vast workforce. FM’s scope of influence across the built environment value chain means that it could also drive core sustainable business strategy, including responsible business programmes and zero-carbon initiatives.
But the SFMI also highlights several well-established obstacles standing in the sector’s way, including issues of trust with clients, the commoditisation of facilities services, and the inability to attract, retain and develop talented people.
It believes FM can overcome these challenges by combining culture, technology and people throughout its management processes. The report says this would help service providers to develop purpose, client engagement and collaboration – all key drivers of long-term ESG sustainability strategy. Putting these building blocks in place will enable FM to:
- Increase its competitive advantage against external disruptors;
- Increase its long-term profitability;
- Improve the sector’s attraction for a younger and more diverse talent pool; and
- Instil a higher level of trust from clients in the value of the service it provides.
Five key pillars
Five key pillars make up the SFMI’s framework: management and commitment to sustainability, community and supplier engagement, diversity and collaboration, environmental protection, and wellbeing and employment.
Below each pillar, the SFMI breaks down the relevant management principles and actions that FM organisations need to build into their sustainability strategy.
The report also shares examples of best practice in sustainable FM from the SFMI’s annual assessments. Organisations with similar ambitions can see how leading sustainable FM providers incorporate ESG measures and objectives across their management processes, supply chains and contracts.
Chris Havers, SFMI programme director, said: “Drawing from seven years’ experience of working with the FM sector, the SFMI has provided a framework in this report that will help FM organisations to take huge strides forward in sustainability. We address the challenges facing the sector, but also offer FMs a roadmap to better ESG performance. By building a sustainability strategy around this framework, the FM sector can reposition itself as a leading sustainability solutions provider. A minority of FM organisations are already on that journey and hold a competitive advantage. It’s time for the rest of the sector to follow.”
Now in its seventh year, the SFMI is an initiative run by sustainability consultancy Acclaro Advisory. Its purpose is to embed sustainability into the management and operation of the FM sector. It operates a sustainability benchmark for the UK FM sector by assessing the ESG performance of FM service providers annually. Acclaro’s team conducts independent assessments across 23 criteria, including sustainability frameworks, management systems, energy, water, compliance, health and safety, employee development, diversity, and more.
It also convenes FM professionals in its new SFMI Leaders Forum, where a select group of thought leaders discuss the challenges of sustainable FM to upskill the sector.
You can download the white paper here.