Sustainability barriers hindering FM professionals
Businesses are facing a 'sustainability crunch' and finding it harder to implement sustainability policies, according to a new survey of UK facilities managers.
The survey, carried out on 309 facilities managers by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), found that confidence has fallen sharply. The number of facilities managers reporting their businesses are ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ in executing sustainability programmes fell from 60% in 2014 to 40% in 2015.
BIFM reported an increase in barriers to fulfilling sustainability practices, with 80% of respondents reporting physical constraints, 71% with financial constraints and 69% citing a lack of organisational engagement.
The figures support the findings of edie’s exclusive energy management report, which put funding issues as the top barrier to energy saving programmes, with 62% of sustainability professionals reporting it as a problem. Edie’s survey also found that technology and employee engagement were significant roadblocks to implementing sustainability initiatives, with a third of respondents reporting they were major barriers to successful programmes.
The fall in confidence comes despite the fact that 81% of BIFM’s chief executive and senior management members said sustainability was a ‘very important’ issue for their business. This level fell to 61% among middle management, perhaps suggesting a lack of communication among some businesses.BIFM chief executive Gareth Tancred said despite pressure businesses were seeing a decline in their ability to be more sustainable. “What is clear from our findings is that organisations need to re-think their approach to sustainability in the face of increasing barriers,” he said.
Tancred said sustainability was being undermined by a “tick-box mentaility” which was detrimental to long-term sustainable initiatives – more than a third (36%) of respondents had no formal data collection procress for measuring sustainability outputs.
“Whilst it is encouraging to see so many organisations regarding sustainability as an important part of their corporate agenda, businesses must adopt more formal processes to monitor and measure progress and avoid a short-termist view of sustainable business practice,” Tancred said.
“What is needed to address the ‘sustainability crunch’ is more collaborative working, to look beyond purely environmental connotations such as energy consumption, climate change and waste management, and integrate policies aligned with societal sustainability, such as the Living Wage. The risk of not doing so is that organisations are accused of only paying lip service to sustainability.”
While confidence may have dropped, edie’s own survey found that 39% of respondents thought their organisation was ‘very committed’ to sustainability in 2014/15 – an increase from 35% the previous year.
This is the ninth survey of its kind from BIFM, which surved 309 faclities managers from across the UK, working across sectors including education, mechanical and engineering, healthcare, real estate and other (21%).