EMCOR UK: Four positive changes that FM can take to help avoid climate catastrophe


  • COVID-19,
  • Sustainability

12 August 2021

Office green

As we count down to our Conference, Insight Partner EMCOR explores the first of our megatrends, climate change, and the major role that FM can play…

This week’s report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is undeniable in stating that human influence has caused climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. But the authors say that a catastrophe can be avoided if the world acts fast. The built environment – and more specifically the facilities management sector – has a leading role to play in helping to avoid that catastrophe.

Understandably the immediate focus of the past year has been on the pandemic but as we emerge from the clutches of COVID-19, the FM sector needs to refocus on the climate emergency. Sources have indicated that the built environment accounts for around 40% of carbon emissions and up to 80% in large cities so the way we manage our facilities has a huge role to play in bringing climate change under control. But despite the positive discourse around net zero, many organisations still do not recognise the urgency of our situation are not making changes quickly enough.  A recent poll by EMCOR UK, revealed that only 12% of organisations were fully or nearly fully prepared to meet net zero targets; a further 36% were fairly prepared and 53% were not very or not at all prepared.

So, what positive changes can our sector make?

Working together is key

FM providers must work with their customers, stakeholders, and their wider supply chains to make lasting change. Collaborating on a business-to-business level and sharing knowledge and ideas are key. What works well in one sector or business is likely to provide positive results in another. This is a time for open-source ideas.

Organisations must adopt an integrated and holistic approach

It is not enough to focus on one element of reducing carbon. FMs need to examine all their operations and look at both operational carbon (the energy used to run an operation or a building) and embodied carbon (the carbon required to produce a product or service in the first place) and make changes across the board. By focusing on embodied carbon in buildings, organisations can appreciate the full carbon impact of their decisions.

Focus on the energy

Energy is a quick win for carbon reduction and has the benefit of saving both money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol there are three groups of emissions which organisations should measure and focus on.

  • Scope 1 covers owned or controlled direct emissions such as fuel consumption and vehicle types
  • Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling
  • Scope 3 covers all other emissions that occur across an organisations value chain including business travel, commuting, waste disposal and purchased goods and services

In many organisations FM’s are responsible for these services and as such can play a significant role in reduction and changes. Many FM providers have therefore established specialist energy services divisions, with experts who can help their customers create energy management strategies, including everything from smart technology to behavioural change training, and provide energy services to achieve their goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across scopes 1, 2 and 3.

Lead by example

As experts in the built environment, and therefore in carbon management, it is up to us to show other organisations the way.  An increasing number of FM organisations are making their own net zero commitments and are leading lights in carbon reduction. By becoming case studies in our own right, we show our customers what can be achieved as well as their own carbon reduction goals.

The FM sector is ideally placed to provide strategic guidance and services which support new ways of working while at the same time considering the long-term approach to meet the UN Global goals and the Paris Agreement targets on climate change. Let’s grasp this opportunity with both hands and deliver a lasting legacy to the world.

Book your ticket to IWFM Conference 2021 today by clicking here.