Sustainability is the study and effort towards actions focused on environmental protection and improving society. Global changes are taking place which started with the Industrial Revolution and have been accelerating since the 1950s. These are changes in society and the environment that could change the world forever. In 2011, Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, described the coming together of these global trends as the perfect storm.
Sustainability is focused on understanding these interconnected ‘megatrends’ and improving the world, either by reversing the trends or mitigating them, so that the ‘storm’ never happens.
Workplace and facilities management professionals are uniquely placed to make a difference in the sustainability agenda. You are the lynchpin in organisations, marrying the needs of owners, occupiers and supply chains to create productive and happy workplaces.
However, in tackling sustainability, our profession can also help to make the world a better place where our children, grandchildren and their descendants have a world that is fit to live in and natural resources are used sustainably.
Business as usual is no longer an option. This is an opportunity for our profession to raise the bar on current best practice so that it becomes the normal of tomorrow; to show leadership and to unlock each workplace’s sustainability opportunity.
We will continue to expand this hub’s content, so please bookmark it and check back regularly.
Take part in the IWFM Sustainability Survey 2020 in partnership with Inenco
The IWFM Sustainability Survey 2020 in partnership with Inenco is now live and available for all professionals within the workplace and facilities management industry to complete. The deadline for responses - all of which are anonymous - is 31 July 2020.
Please click here take part in the Survey and help us to understand the sustainability landscape.
The findings offer an indication of trends supporting change and the future of sustainability, as well as the key driving factors underpinning the agenda: who is leading it within organisations; which issues are covered; how it is measured and reported; and the latest issues affecting everyday practice.
In these uncertain times, at least one thing is clear: we have an exciting opportunity to ‘build back better’. We can seize this chance to fundamentally change how we live, work, operate organisations, and care for societies and the environment. This Survey will be integral to informing that discussion, so please take a moment to provide your part of the big picture.
This year’s Survey is brought to you in partnership with leading energy management and sustainability consultants Inenco.
Inenco's Head of New Business, Duncan Edwards, said of the partnership: 'Inenco believe that embracing an holistic and forward looking approach to sustainability is fundamental to organisational success and creating a competitive advantage going forward. We’re delighted to be working with IWFM to provide invaluable insight to help organisations better understand and plan their sustainability journey.'
Inenco is a leading energy management and environmental sustainability consultancy with over 50 years’ experience in responding to clients' changing needs. They believe this gives them the expertise and insight to make sure clients can successfully navigate the sustainability landscape and achieve change for the better.
Consumer pressure and moves by global brands are now out-pacing government enforced change on the road to carbon net zero. Support from Inenco's expert team will set you on a path so you can define your sustainability challenges and create and implement a plan to make sure your organisation keeps pace with the changing world around it.
Over the years, we have produced a wealth of sustainability-themed content and our Sustainability Surveys have formed the basis of this work. Please find below reports on past Surveys, as well as discussion papers, webinars and infographics based on the findings.
For twenty years, the IWFM Impact Awards (formerly known as the BIFM Awards and more recently the IWFM Awards) has celebrated outstanding best practice and innovation from our influential profession.
Sustainability is just one area of our profession’s influence, but what an important area it is when it’s estimated that the built environment contributes up to 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions.
From climate change to environmental damage, Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, sustainability has permeated the public consciousness and, inevitably, the business world. In fact, 66% of workplace and facilities managers say sustainability is either extremely or very important (IWFM Sustainability Survey 2018).
As sustainability has grown in prominence, the IWFM Impact Awards has seen some extraordinary award submissions, but here are some of the winners in recent years who stood out from the crowd.
Winner: Innovation in Technology and Systems 2019
Waterless Urinal Technology, WhiffAway Group
Using its expertise as a market leader in waterless urinal technology, biological solutions and closed systems, WhiffAway developed and installed the world’s first fully connected smart washroom technology.
Their system reduces water use, saves cost – through reduced maintenance – can be retro-fitted, and prevents blockages. A non-return valve housing for its systems also stops bacteria growth and helps eradicate bad odours.
WhiffAway’s waterless urinal technology has saved its clients an estimated 750,000,000 cubic meters of water, £1.9 billion in costs and 14.7 million kilos in carbon. The system is non-hazardous and all cleaning materials are environmentally friendly.
This initiative makes a major, measurable contribution to environmental sustainability, while improving the workplace experience.
Impact on the Environment Award 2019
Project Ceres Plastics Reduction, ISS with a Big Four professional services firm
In response to the global plastics pollution problem and feedback from staff, a ‘Big Four’ professional services firm joined forces with ISS in 2018 to radically reduce plastic consumption across their twenty-three UK offices.
The ‘Project Ceres’ team was founded upon the principles of two initiatives: ISS’s Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy, ThinkForward@ISS, which commits to reducing carbon emissions and waste, and procuring sustainable products and services; and the Big Four firm’s UK Environmental Policy, which commits to ‘the prevention of pollution’ and ‘purchasing environmentally sustainable products’.
The Big Four firm no longer stocks branded plastic bags and now uses cardboard boxes for branded sweets and business cards as well as using stationary such as 100 per cent recycled fire padded envelopes instead of bubble wrap.
Through a variety of measures, such as no longer stocking branded plastic bags and using stationary created from recycled materials, the project managed to cut 57 tonnes of single use plastic per year, delivering a 91% reduction in just eight months.
Winner: Innovation in Products and Services 2018
Sustainability innovations, Innovation Gateway
When it comes to innovation, managing the costs and risks are challenging for stretched teams: you don’t know what you don’t know. The Innovation Gateway partnership approach tackles this problem head on.
Using a ‘Power of Many’ philosophy, the partners collaborate to adopt breakthrough technologies and transform the performance of their buildings, at scale.
They share experience and best practice across diverse industries, as well as performance data from pilots, and together source the innovations they need to address complex challenges, including sustainability targets.
By working together, they have collectively accrued estimated savings of £millions, plus substantial reductions in energy and water from innovations sourced and piloted through the Innovation Gateway.
Partners include Tesco, Heathrow, RBS, Kingfisher, Unite Students, University of Edinburgh and Nottingham City Council.
An example in practice is when RBS trialled an additive called Endotherm to make its wet heating systems more efficient. After tracking 10-15% energy reductions, RBS shared the information with the alliance, after which Heathrow implemented the same innovations with the result of 11-16% savings in three months.
Winner: Impact on the Environment Award 2018
Carbon Management Programme, University of Oxford
The Carbon Management Programme delivers the University’s Carbon Management Strategy, which aims to make significant cuts to their carbon emissions while engaging staff and students and sharing data and lessons learned more widely.
The degree of stakeholder engagement sets it apart, and the projects within are designed to empower users by transferring skills and knowledge.
The University set an ambitious target to reduce scope one and scope two carbon emissions by 33% from 2005/06 levels by the end of 2020. By 2018, it had already saved an estimated 6,256 tonnes of CO2 and £1.5m of annual energy costs. Over 205 completed projects include solar photovoltaic systems, lighting upgrades, building management system optimization, building system upgrades, and roof insulation.
This programme benefits the whole University as it reduces both carbon taxes and energy costs, which come out of departmental budgets. The projects improve user experience and contribute towards funding applications where laboratories can demonstrate high-level environmental control. Lessons learned are also communicated back to the University’s capital projects team, who take them into account when designing new buildings.
Winner: Impact on the Environment Award 2017
Caring for the Environment, Landsec
Landsec’s vision was to become the environmental leader in the listed real-estate sector and this project showed that care for the environment is about more than just energy and waste management.
The company invested in innovative technologies and site-specific energy reduction assessments with the help of partners like NG Bailey for its ‘Care for the Environment’ initiative, which helped to save over 10% in energy use and saved customers over £880,000 in energy bills. Landsec also achieved goals of 70% recycling buildings by 2016 and this is increasing every year.
The team also formed strategic partnerships and developed a mandatory ‘Sustainability Matters’ training course with online, role-specific and face-to-face training for employees, to ensure employee engagement and participation across its initiatives.
Winner: Impact on Sustainability 2016
‘Food Waste, Costing the Earth’, BaxterStorey
BaxterStorey started its crusade on catering business food waste in the form of food spoilage, plate waste and preparation waste. Its reasons to use fresh, locally sourced produce stems from a belief that it would not only deliver the highest quality catering offering, but also help to sustain the local supply chain, and reduce both energy use and environmental impact.
A proprietary online operational accounting package called ‘Evolution’ captures the results of the ‘Food Waste, Costing the Earth’ project. Collecting all waste for recycling or macerating - from food production, unsold leftover food, customer leftovers, and out-of-date stock - weighing each sector, and recording weight data became the strategy.
The initiative went live in July 2014 and now 600 locations report data weekly. The results are:
35% reduction in food waste since the project started
significant savings in food and drink purchases
reduced environmental impact equal to 16,000 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of taking more than 4,000 cars off the road for a year.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, all United Nations (UN) Member States adopted the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides ‘a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future’. Central to this blueprint are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): an urgent call for all countries to help create a sustainable world through their national and regional governments enacting local policies that tackle a variety of deprivations and inequalities.
As the UN puts it, the SDGs ‘recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests’.
Ultimately, the SDGs are also for consumers, businesses, societies and non-governmental organisations to embrace and change the way we do things to support the development of these 17 goals.
You can watch a summary of the SDGs is in this short video:
Delivering the 17 SDGs is a complex and ambitious task. This Ted Talk helps clarify the 17 SDGs and how we can get there:
Business and sustainability
Businesses embrace sustainability for different reasons. Some may be altruistic, driven by the moral position of the business owners; another reason may be to deliver legal compliance; equally, a business may be focused on cost-saving or cost-avoidance.
Increasingly, businesses see a wide range of reasons to embrace sustainability beyond these first three (morals, law, cost), with additional reasons including: business risk management, customer demand, and employee morale or demand.
In 2015, the UN said: ‘We support national regulatory and policy frameworks that enable business and industry to advance sustainable development initiatives, taking into account the importance of corporate social responsibility. We call on the private sector to engage in responsible business practices.’
Sustainability is generally seen as a challenge to businesses; however, relatively small group of businesses see sustainability as a business opportunity. These businesses, with a growth mindset, see sustainability activities as growing “shared value”. Below is an informative video on this subject.
There is also the concept of the circular economy. As opposed to a linear economy, which makes, uses and disposes, a circular economy seeks to utilise resources for as long as possible and then repurpose them. You can find out more in the video below.
In light of the pressures that COVID-19 continues to place on our profession and to afford you more time to highlight the great work that has taken place over the last year, we have extended the entry deadline for the IWFM Impact Awards 2020 to midday on Wednesday 27 May.
Please click here to view our Awards categories, including several that are ripe for sustainability-themed achievements, such as ‘Positive climate action’, ‘Social value’, and ‘Technology’, to name a few.