World FM Day 2022: Agents of change for a sustainable future


  • Facilities,
  • Future of work,
  • Sustainability,
  • Workplace

11 May 2022

WFMD 2022

This year’s World FM theme focuses on Leading a Sustainable Future. This is not moral panic but accepting that by collaborating to understand and catalyse the necessary change, the built environment and the facilities profession specifically can take a lead in averting catastrophe. FMs can be agents of change in organisations: influencing behaviour tangibly for a lasting difference.

So, what does our evidence say - what do our members think about the agenda? What are the gaps in FMs’ approach towards embedding sustainability strategies? And how are we moving the discussion forward?

Macro trends

Our recent Market Outlook survey looked at the big trends that preoccupy most professionals in our sector – technology, data, changes in workplace strategies and remote and hybrid working, all featuring positively. Unsurprisingly, soaring energy prices, supply chain disruptions, Brexit effects and the availability of skilled workers completed the other side of the coin. But given it was only a few months after COP26 – how was sustainability viewed?

With some ambivalence as to whether it was a positive or negative force. 30% saw it positively, 20% negatively with about one in four thinking it would have no impact. Hmm, we need to delve deeper.

The gaps and the opportunity

What story did our 2021 Sustainability Survey tell?  For many it will come as no surprise that

it showed a gap between intent and action - our sustainability report identified that organisations are missing an holistic, long-term approach to determining and delivering meaningful outcomes. Other noticeable gaps were the lack of data informing such strategies and their progress and an underlying capability gap.

Both the Sustainability survey and the Market Outlook survey touch on the opportunities

for the workplace and FM profession to be at the heart of sustainable business. The inevitable conclusion from all the insight is that those at the forefront of sector and the profession’s advancement (and standing) will be those who can harness the potential of new and emerging tech and apply data capture and analysis to optimise its use. And to do that in a way that focuses on the customer, the user; and delivering positive and sustainable business outcomes.  

Moving forward

We have previously spoken about the need to collaborate with expert members and partners alike to empower FMs to be the agents for change that they can be, especially given their lynchpin position within organisations to bring together the needs of owners, end-users and the supply chain.  We need to shift behaviours to put ESG at the heart of business and to call out “greenwash”, and for FMs to provide leadership in this to work with supply chains that have genuine intent.

IWFM knows that it must step up too. Workstreams are in place, but several areas lack resource, expertise, commonality – Scope Three Emissions are an example of the latter.  We have gaps so we invite anyone wanting to help to join forces with us so that our profession can deliver on its sustainability potential.

While we continue our workstreams towards meaningful member outputs, we will also drive the conversation to increase awareness about both the opportunity and the road to solutions.  Join us over the coming days and weeks:

The past year we have also hosted a cluster of webinars on this subject. Catch them on playback.

  • Opportunities from a sustainable digital built environment from the Technology SIG
    Tech giants, government digitisation leaders, FM leading practitioners, carbon experts and pioneering estate managers blend insight and hands-on experience. Watch here
  • How to get from net zero promises to genuine progress with Inenco explores ways to unlock the route to net zero and the role FMs can play to support genuine change including building a successful road map and how to support members on data sources, collation and management. Watch here.
  • Sustainability, COP26 and its impact on the workplace  from the Ireland Region tackles the subject from the perspective of the Irish market  Watch here .  
  • Carbon literacy from the South West Region what is it, why is it harmful and what can we do to reduce carbon emissions, particularly in estates and facilities? Watch here.  (With a follow up in July in Bristol with Sustainability in FM)