Open-access content 6th October 2008
by Louisa Roberts
06 March 2008
The extent to which FM impacts on people in their daily lives is seldom recognised, and it is our role to raise the profile of the profession within society.
This was the key message delivered by BIFM chairman Peter Cordy at the BIFM Ireland Conference, held last month in Belfast.
Whether we're shopping, travelling, staying in hospital or sending our children to school, FM touches on all aspects of our lives, a fact we should consider as "the FM ripple effect", Cordy said.
He added that by reflecting on how we contribute, we can be better placed to identify our professional impact.
"Our role is to exploit our unique perspective - gained from the range of activities that we manage and the services we deliver and we must communicate this expertise to society as well as our colleagues in other professions."
Cordy's message kicked off the conference, held at the W5 Odyssey in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.
Phil Jones, visiting research fellow at London South Bank University discussed onsite renewable technologies.
Facilities managers must understand the implications of the technology, as their next job is likely to involve managing a site which includes onsite renewables, Jones said. "With rising energy prices, increased regulation and public awareness, it's no longer a case of renewables being 'almost with us' - the technology is here and we must get used to it," he added.
Phil Roberts from Deva Facility Consulting spoke about the demands that buildings face as a result of climate change, including heat stress during the hottest summer months.
With the most expensive construction market in the world, it's obvious that we can't simply abandon our old buildings and replace them with newer, more energy-efficient ones, Roberts said.
But we can push through measures such as improving natural light and ventilation, in order to reduce cost and waste, he added. "FMs have the knowledge and experience to move the debate of building efficiency and climate change forwards - and we must apply this knowledge to meet the challenges facing us."
Adrian Davis, environmental manager at Queen's University Belfast concluded the morning's focus on sustainability by presenting a case study on the university's environmental strategy.
The 67 hectare site, including 262 buildings (98 listed) has significantly reduced its waste disposal costs, through changing its supplier. The FM team has also increased the use of recycled paper products and uses more green energy (50 per cent) since it introduced its environmental management system in 2006.
But the university continues to face intense financial and legislative pressures, such as last year's Weee regulations, Davis added. Significant management and administrative resources were being allocated to ensure full compliance with the regulations.
Beth Goodyear asked the audience if the UK was going "over the top" with health and safety regulations, and about 90 per cent said "yes". Goodyear's light-hearted look at the industry examined the more ridiculous, headline grabbing health and safety stories but her message was clear. Legislation protects us all - and the majority of the headlines turn out to be exaggeration at best.
In the afternoon, Neil Salton, from GoCordless looked at the future of technology in the workplace.
The IT community are traditionally blockers for innovation in workplace technology, Salton said, but property and facilities management professionals are the key to driving change in workplace connectivity.
With current graduates seeking jobs specifically for their technology and workplace design, change is a must we are to prepare for the next generation of workers, he said.
The BIFM Ireland conference saw the Irish launch of BIFM Training's Understanding Facilities Management course, which will be held for the first time in Belfast. Visit www.bifm-training.co.uk for more details.