FM industry favours quick wins over long-term strategic climate change planning

climate changeResearch by VINCI Facilities claims that the UK facilities management sector does not possess a thorough, detailed strategic approach to combatting climate change. In the autumn of 2020 VINCI Facilities asked over 200 decision-makers how far their organisations have progressed in developing a coherent strategy for the environment.

Respondents favour ‘quick-win’ initiatives that deliver short-term efficiencies, such as use of local recycling and waste reduction schemes. Analysis within the white paper report indicate that these approaches do not address the depth of the environmental problem even allowing for the reach or scope of the organisations themselves.

Building and construction activities (as an economic sector) together account for 36 percent of global final energy use and 39 percent 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 due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but climate change is not on pause. Once the global economy begins to recover, emissions are expected to return to higher levels.

How committed are FM organisations to change, and how effective are their strategies and practices? VINCI Facilities research indicates the majority of organisations have a policy or strategy in development, but only 40 percent have a fully implemented strategy – and just a quarter (25.2 percent) have a strategy embedded across the organisation, affecting every operational area.

At least 60 percent of respondents said they have carbon-reduction targets, but only 47 percent 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.

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 include 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.”

There remain significant blockers across the built environment.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Quick wins are OK, and provide a good first step, but they are not a strategy.”[/perfectpullquote]

“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,” adds Paul Lynch. “Concerted, strategic action is possible and yields significant benefits. Embracing decarbonisation and other ambitious environmental goals is achievable and can deliver real value to businesses. We have plenty of pathfinders in our sector so let’s make use of them, learning and building a roadmap that will take our industry into a sustainable future.”

Image by Gerd Altmann