Most will agree that Sustainability has had a fundamental impact on the Facilities Management (FM) industry, to which I wholeheartedly agree. But the impact is not necessarily on its own and is often unrecognized. While Sustainability will continue to be a buzzword in the profession for some time I believe its real maturity is often realized in ways that are not immediately recognizable. In other words, “Sustainability” may not be the prime motivation behind an initiative but it definitely benefits from the initiative. For example…
- Alternative workplace solutions that downsize real estate footprint, allow work from home, etc. have multiple Sustainability benefits even though the prime drivers may be productivity, strategic alignment and cost.
- Similarly, continuous improvement programs that focus on process efficiency and improving quality/cost/time dimensions of work are inherently beneficial to Sustainability since their prime goal is to eliminate waste.
- Supply and service chain management programs multiply positive outcomes by driving alignment and efficiency improvement to business partners who may not have adopted them on their own absent a competitive requirement.
- In the design and construction arena the adoption of BIM technology on a wide scale is improving project coordination, eliminating large amounts of rework, and reducing project schedules.
The message here is this: Sustainability has moved beyond being a program to being a part of virtually everything FM’s do. While high profile programs will persist the real gains from its institutionalization in the day-to-day business of FM. Sustainability is becoming a part of FM’s DNA, and that is where the real benefits are to be found.
As I said earlier, however, much of this benefit goes unrecognized – because it is not measured. That is something the profession needs to think about. How do we accurately measure the real outcomes of Sustainability actions in all areas of our business in ways that inform decision makers without adding friction (cost) to the business? We sometimes lack credibility when we have the discussion because we do not have real data. That needs to be solved.