FMs can lead the green transformation by partnering with outsourcing services companies that have eco-friendly credentials, explains Caroline Hutchins.
02 July 2018 | Caroline Hutchins
Ask for evidence of green credentials
Ask for examples of your provider's commitment to the environment in its own workplace. Has it made this part of its own business model with clear long-term goals? Are there LED lights, low-flow toilet systems, segregated recycling bins or solar-panelled roofing for energy-saving office designs?
A meaningful approach
Your provider should demonstrate that they understand your organisation's sustainability goals, rather than adopting a 'one-size-fits-all' approach. Meaningful sustainable measures should:
- Be relevant to a client site, environment and culture;
- Be proven;
- Consider cost versus sustainable performance;
- Be of a suitable size;
- Be trialled before implementation; and
- Have a measurable impact.
Energy and wider environmental benchmarking can provide valuable insights for FM teams to optimise their buildings and engage at the design stage on projects.
Live up to standards
The best cleaning contractors will have earned internationally recognised accreditations, such as ISO 14001, Carbon Smart certification, or be a registered upper-tier waste carrier.
Other schemes to look out for include carbon reduction programmes. How the provider has met these accreditations should be transparent with regular assessments of their environmental impacts made available to clients.
Eliminating chemicals also brings health and safety advantages to cleaning operatives and facility users. Most FMs are aware that some chemicals in cleaning agents can cause skin allergies and asthma, or are corrosive.
New chemicals that use biotechnology are entering the mainstream and are often more effective than traditional counterparts.
Modern cleaning equipment is more environmentally friendly than outdated models. Ask your commercial cleaner if it uses eco models and whether the cleaning company uses self-dosing, reusable bottles. These reduce waste and make ordering consumables more efficient. The best commercial cleaners will have green tools in their tool kit, including pure water systems that use ionised water for window cleaning, and microfibre cloths and diamond-encrusted cleaning pads with no chemicals.
Your provider must demonstrate investment in training and education, not just at the start of a cleaning operative's career, but as an ongoing culture.
They should provide courses on site that are accredited by independent organisations such as the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc).
Choose technology that improves processes. Our contract management app has made our recycling rate 11 per cent more efficient and cut paperwork. The location and emissions of our vehicles are digitally tracked, helping to eradicate unnecessary journeys and reduce fuel use. Only 8 per cent of in-house FMs report that all aspects of FM delivery are being conducted digitally with 14 per cent for FM service suppliers, says the BIFM Sustainability Survey 2017.
Reputable contractors will hold regular management meetings on their environmental impacts and make their environmental reporting available to clients.
Accreditations such as ISO 14001 have companies producing assessments and ratings of their environmental impact, and this should be clearly documented, with information made available.
The best outsourcers will also seek to shape their own supply chain, auditing their subcontractors using sustainability as a measure of their performance.
Caroline Hutchins is operations director at Julius Rutherfoord & Co