The UK facilities management sector does not possess “a thorough, detailed strategic approach to combatting climate change”, according to research by FM firm Vinci.
The FM organisation surveyed more than 200 decision-makers last year, asking how far their organisations had progressed in developing a coherent strategy for the environment.
All respondents said they favoured “‘quick-win’ initiatives that deliver short-term efficiencies, such as the use of local recycling and waste reduction schemes”.
The report says these approaches “do not address the depth of the environmental problem even allowing for the reach or scope of the organisations themselves”.
The research indicates that most organisations have a policy or strategy in development, but only 40 per cent have a fully implemented strategy – and just a quarter (25.2 per cent) have a strategy embedded across the organisation, affecting every operational area.
At least 60 per cent of respondents said they have carbon-reduction targets, but only 47 per cent have a system in place for checking the targets are being achieved.
A formal strategy or roadmap would have short and long-term targets for deliverables, along with enabling factors/actions and a robust measurement system.
Building and construction activities (as an economic sector), together accounted for 36 per cent of global final energy use and 39 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions when upstream power generation is included. CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to new records in 2019.
Emissions may be projected to drop owing to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the study states that once the global economy begins to recover, emissions are expected to return to higher levels.
Paul Lynch, head of energy & water management for Vinci Facilities, said: “Our research shows that most organisations in the built environment/facilities sector have some form of environmental or sustainability strategy in place, which usually includes a target for carbon reduction, but they rarely go far enough and often are noticeably short term. Quick wins are OK and provide a good first step, but they are not a strategy. We need to see a vision, measurement, targets and investment in longer-term solutions like renewable energy sources or conducting whole-life property assessments. There is a lot more that can be done and the way to achieve the challenging targets we face is through collaboration.”
Lynch said: “Too many people still believe that climate change is not a priority, that decarbonisation is unfeasible, perhaps that a bit of recycling or switching to LEDs is enough, or that nothing will make much difference – these misconceptions must be challenged.”
Lynch believes that “concerted, strategic action is possible and yields significant benefits” and this can be achieved by “embracing decarbonisation and other ambitious environmental goals”.
Vinci Facilities will be running a series of webinars seeking to build on its research findings, sharing best practice and encouraging partners up and down the FM supply chain to collaborate and move the sector forward to achieve the detailed strategic decisions required to combat climate change.
Climate Change is the second in a series of white papers published by Vinci Facilities based on research and discussions from leaders within the FM and built environment sectors.