8 September 2016 | Marino Donati
The shifting environment of FM, the evolving language of sustainability and new technology and social factors, are some of the themes that have influenced FM's role in the sustainability agenda over the last ten years, according to BIFM research.
In its 10th annual survey, 'BIFM Sustainability Survey: Where are we 10 years on', reflects on the work undertaken over the past decade to capture the impact of sustainability within the FM sector.
Peter Brogan, research and information manager at BIFM, said that with the increasing demand for sustainable business, one of the survey's key aims was to analyse how the sector was adapting and tackling sustainability by orchestrating workshops and surveys for FM professionals.
"The three key areas on empowerment, procurement and skills were identified in this year's report and we will be working alongside BIFM's Sustainability Special Interest Group (SIG) to take a leading role on delivering against the series of actions that need to be taken to continue to embed sustainability into day-to-day practices," said Brogan.
The report looked back at how sustainability in FM has evolved over the last ten years and forward to consider likely developments in the decade ahead.
Shifts identified over the past ten years have been in the language used to define and communicate what sustainability means, and in the increasing use of technology.
"The report has illustrated further how the FM profession has a pivotal role to play in leading and embedding sustainable practices across the whole business agenda," said Brogan.
The survey also indentified the themes of wellbeing and productivity as potential influences affecting the future of traditional sustainability practices in FM.
Technology, such as building information modelling (BIM), and key social factors, such as pay, diversity and social value, are also emerging themes, according to the survey.
The rapidly changing environment, including the workplace and the widening scope of FM in modern society, is one of the things that is making it difficult to predict the future of sustainability, the research finds.
Sunil Shah, chair of the Sustainability Special Interest Group, said that FM had matured over the last ten years with more understanding of its role in helping to lead organisations' environmental improvements.
"It also reflects the challenges ahead as we grapple with the social impacts affecting the staff we employ, suppliers contracted and the communities we engage with," said Shah. "Mainstreaming these areas into FM activities and with senior management will become the biggest driver over the coming years to manage reputational risks."
The report makes recommendations to bring sustainability to the forefront of FM and business discussions, including reviewing the current definitions of sustainability, performing a detailed risk review of sustainability and providing guidance and case studies to support FMs.
It also suggests ensuring training maximises sustainable potential, developing sustainability awareness programmes, and establishing an evidence-based approach to sustainability that includes non-financial benefits.