If the word ‘sustainability’ appears one too many times in this issue, it merely reflects how deeply the concept has pervaded the realm of facility management. Whether motivated by a genuine sense of responsibility for the environment or compelled to assume the same by law, every organisation worth its salt now misses no opportunity to highlight its initiatives in this regard. Sustainability is planned for in advance, no longer applied as an afterthought.
But there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. While planting a few trees or reducing the number of office printouts are commendable gestures, that is what they remain – gestures. For an organisation to be accountable for its environmental footprint, it needs to first measure its impact before exploring ways to mitigate it. Setting sustainability targets has no value if the progress towards achieving them is not monitored.
Many speak of environmental restitution; few speak of preventing environmental damage in the first place. The underlying principle of any scalable solution must be the avoidance of environmental harm, not a prescription that attempts to treat it.
Everyone has the best possible intent, but is intent enough? Copy-pasting solutions, or using the right solution in the wrong manner may do more harm than good. For their intent to fructify into action, organisations must study their sustainability challenges as keenly as they study their business challenges.
Organisations announce sustainability mandates, but who is mandated to implement them? Their facility management partners. From initiating changes at the company level to persuading individual facility users to modify their behaviour, FM professionals have the manifold challenge of integrating sustainability into service delivery without compromising on service quality, increasing service costs or affecting service experience.