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Think local, act local

Ravi Valecha, Head Administration, Employee Experience at IL&FS Ltd

In a country as diverse as India, can an organisation apply the same sustainable solutions across geographically diverse locations? Ravi Valecha, Head Administration, Employee Experience at IL&FS Ltd begs to differ.

The definition of sustainability is ‘avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance’. When we speak about sustainability, we usually speak about using sustainable resources. In fact, it is more than that. We always try to consider the first half of the definition, and conveniently forget about the second half, i.e maintaining an ecological balance.

When we speak about maintaining an ecological balance in FM, it means starting with our own office premises, the areas or geographical location we are operating from, our neighbours, the local population and ecology, and many other things that need to be looked into.

A facility manager needs to look into the various aspects of climate change, use of energy efficiency and efficacy options available, sustainable development of the office area (geo location) vis-a-vis growth of the organisation etc. These are challenges for which the FM professional can develop solutions and make positive contributions at the organisational level.

On-site realities

Resources such as water, paper, electricity, transport and the like vary from location to location. One-size-fits-all cannot be the answer. As an FM professional, we have to think at the local level.

For example, is using a porcelain cup in an office in Jaipur more sustainable than using paper cups in an office in Mumbai or Delhi? In this case, a paper cup may be desirable to be used in Jaipur because there is a constant water shortage and washing normal porcelain cups may be an expensive affair (not monetarily, but ecologically), but the same may be more feasible in Mumbai or Delhi.

It may be noted that I am not promoting the use of paper cups anywhere, as it involves cutting of trees. But the point I want to make is that a more logical approach based on local conditions needs to be evaluated.

Local environment diktats

Similarly, there can be a study of glass façade buildings in the same / similar locations. Building a glass façade building would not be prudent in Jaipur as the temperature is high through most of the year, and cooling the office area will need more air conditioners with higher capacity. Not that it will not have harmful effects in other cities, as the surrounding areas of these glass facades tend to increase the ambient temperature by a few degrees.

The bottom line is, Indian corporates can explore the possibilities of documenting the sustainability options based on these facts for their respective geographical area. There is a dire need for India’s facility management community to get together and issue a white paper on geo-based sustainability efforts, recommendations and best practices.

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