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A new white paper published by the Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI) provides FM organisations with a framework that can help propel them to leading sustainability status.   

The document, ‘Sustainable Ambition for the FM Sector’, outlines the current challenges and opportunities for FM service providers during a period of massive social and political turmoil. It aims to provide the FM sector with the building blocks to transform environmental, social and governance (ESG) sustainability performance.  

The white paper’s authors claim that the tumultuous events of 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of a global Black Lives Matter movement for social justice, should spur facilities management to effect real and sustainable change. 

Following the pandemic, FM organisations will be responsible for managing the operational changes within corporate real estate and the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. As one of the world’s biggest employers, the sector can enhance diversity and social mobility through the recruitment and professional development of its vast workforce. FM’s scope of influence across the built environment value chain means that the sector can also potentially drive core sustainable business strategy, including responsible business programmes and zero-carbon initiatives.

However, the SFMI also highlights numerous well-established obstacles that stand in the FM sector’s way, including issues of trust with clients, the commoditisation of facilities services, and an inability to attract, retain and develop talented people.

The report claims that FM can overcome these challenges by combining culture, technology and people throughout its management processes. According to the report, this will help service providers to develop purpose, client engagement and collaboration—all key drivers of long-term ESG sustainability strategy. Putting these building blocks in place will enable FM to:

•Increase its competitive advantage against external disruptors.

•Increase its long-term profitability.

•Improve the sector’s attraction to a younger and more diverse talent pool.

•Instil a higher level of trust from clients in the value of the service it provides.

Five key pillars make up the SFMI’s framework: management and commitment to sustainability; community and supplier engagement; diversity and collaboration; environmental protection; and wellbeing and employment. Below each pillar, the SFMI breaks down the relevant management principles and actions that FM organisations need to incorporate into their sustainability strategy.

The report also includes examples of best practice in sustainable FM from the SFMI’s annual assessments. Organisations with similar ambitions can see how leading sustainable FM providers incorporate ESG measures and objectives throughout their management processes, supply chains and contracts.

Chris Havers, Programme Director of the SFMI, said: “Drawing from seven years’ experience of working with the FM sector, the SFMI has provided a framework in this report that will help FM organisations to take huge strides forward in sustainability. We address the challenges facing the sector but also offer FMs a roadmap to better ESG performance. By building a sustainability strategy around this framework, the FM sector can reposition itself as a leading sustainability solutions provider. A minority of FM organisations are already on that journey and hold a competitive advantage. It’s time for the rest of the sector to follow.”

Click here to download the white paper.  

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