UK businesses admit empty promises on corporate net-zero commitments


  • Sustainability

11 November 2021


On the penultimate day of COP 26 as the Conference focuses on the built environment

  • IWFM research of UK organisations reveals that Two thirds of organisations that have committed to net zero are failing to effectively track energy consumption
  • IWFM warns business leaders to honour their commitments and to avoid empty promises

UK firms are failing to back their net zero promises with effective measurement according to a report commissioned by IWFM. The 2021 Sustainability Survey, supported by Inenco, reveals that just 35 per cent of firms with net zero plans in place have the data to effectively back their corporate commitments.

The research carried out amongst front-line facilities and energy managers reveals a worrying gap between intention and execution , with just 15%  of end users surveyed admitting that their net zero targets were independently audited by a third party.  Encouragingly, though, more than eight in ten (84%) of the 300 firms surveyed are preparing to or have already set carbon reduction targets.

Linda Hausmanis, CEO of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, comments: “With the world’s leaders gathering in Glasgow, industry is under intense scrutiny to play its part in delivering against national net zero targets. Those at the front line of delivering against these promises have a professional duty to ensure their claims are evidence backed and not empty promises that put both the planet and corporate reputation at risk.”

Workplace and facilities managers surveyed for the report overwhelmingly recognised their responsibilities, with 95% stating that sustainability was important or very important to their organisation.  Top business drivers for setting carbon targets were corporate social responsibility policies, legislative compliance and public reputation. 84% of respondents said that responsible business was the key driver, 75% said legislative compliance and 71% said customer expectation. 

Duncan Edward, Head of New Business and Partnerships at Inenco Group adds:

“The proportion of organisations that still lack the baseline data for their carbon footprint, clear objectives and a roadmap and strategy describing how the targets will be met, remains concerning. Many organisations still need to create a “golden thread” that links the Board’s aspirations to a detailed plan supported by clear accountability and allocated budget supported by the appropriately skilled resource to ensure its achievement.”

The IWFM Sustainability Survey has been conducted annually since 2007, providing an industry leading benchmark of organisational sustainability performance, governance, reporting and priorities. Participants are drawn from FM companies (outsourced providers of full FM services) or FM service providers (outsourced providers of single FM services).  Half of those surveyed (46%) were drawn from senior management, with a representative spread of sectors covering education, healthcare, real estate, third sector and professional services. View the infographic here.

Just seven in ten of those surveyed felt that their organisations were adequately and effectively implementing and managing sustainability policies.  The report suggests that a lack of accountability, feedback or change is undermining the delivery of cohesive responses to carbon reduction.  It highlights that there is a clear opportunity for workplace and facilities professionals to step up to the challenge because of their unique position in bringing together the needs of the landlord, user and supply chain.

Hausmanis concludes, “Workplace and facilities management professionals are the catalysts  in organisations on whom effective action on sustainability depends on change to happen. As a profession it is critical we embrace this responsibility and act as advocates within our organisations for science based targets and credible tracking of net zero commitments.”