Sustainability is a huge topic – broad in scope, critical in importance, and replete with both opportunity and risk.  In commercial terms, sustainability aims to achieve the balance between economic, environmental and social impacts through the effective management of resources while maximising organisational profitability.

A widely cited benchmark for policy and action, the UN Sustainable Development Goals span 17 headings – from climate and energy to work, health and wellbeing – all with associated targets.  These are a reminder that sustainability is about more than just ‘green’ credentials, as important as those are. In its full sense, sustainability should lead to transformative change in how we behave, interact and do business with others – including our customers and our supply chains.  All this represents a complex challenge for strategists and decision-makers. 

For facilities management there is an added layer of challenge. FM service providers have the opportunity to advise, guide and support their customers on sustainability strategy and tactics. This means that service providers themselves must be seen to be knowledgeable and effective leaders in this area.  This in turn means our own strategies and tactics must be demonstrably on-target and equal to or even more advanced than those of our customers.

The opportunities are considerable for FM, in both sustainability and commercial terms, with market demand for services growing significantly.  But there are considerable risks, too, for firms that are not ready for the challenge. The downside could be loss of those opportunities, or loss of business and potential damage to reputation. It could mean losing out on the attraction and retention of good young people, too. 

So, what does FM need to know and do now? What can we learn from companies and individuals taking a lead?

Workplace Futures 2022 focused on hands-on experience, practical advice and useful take-aways. An exceptional panel of speakers explored from all angles the concept that facilities management can be the discipline known for its reliable and effective support right across the spectrum of sustainability issues.

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