World FM Day: Retaining FM role in the ever-broadening sustainability agenda


  • Facilities,
  • Future of work,
  • Sustainability

10 May 2022

WFMD 2022

The Sustainability SIG is contributing to World FM Day 2022 by publishing an article a day during the week.  Ann Beavis, Head of Sustainable Development at Crown and the SIG’s Circular Economy expert, talks about this very topic and FM’s role

Workplace and facilities management has always played a central role in the sustainability agenda through responsibilities including waste and energy management.  In recent years that agenda has broadened, the focus has changed from minimising harm to the environment, to addressing the climate emergency and having a positive impact on both the environment and society.  Ann considers FMs’ challenge in retaining their central role in this wider agenda.

Also known by many as “responsible business”, this broader agenda considers the full range of an organisation’s stakeholders, including clients, employees, suppliers and other partners, as well as any communities potentially affected by that organisation’s operations.  Employees are going to remain the top FM priority but FMs are likely to be required to consider a much wider group of interests. 

FMs also need to understand the full scope of this agenda and where their biggest impacts are, as nobody can tackle the whole remit.  For the environment, this agenda includes both climate change mitigation and adaptation, and also impacts on air, land, water and biodiversity.

The drive for net zero, in particular, is leading organisations to build a deeper understanding of their operational impacts and their supply chain. As businesses develop a better understanding of their Scope 3 emissions, many of FM’s biggest impacts (despite being indirect) will come under greater scrutiny – and this includes waste. 

For too long the metrics of waste and recycling have been singularly focused on % recycled – a measure that does not capture, encourage or reward prevention or minimisation.  The new lens of Scope 3 can help to identify the huge opportunities to reduce waste, move towards becoming a circular office, whilst reducing pollution of air, land and water, preventing deforestation and land regeneration, and having a net positive impact on the planet through sustainable procurement.  There are emerging metrics on circularity that will be useful in measuring and therefore encouraging this transition, but I’m hopeful that the net zero movement will help drive the more radical changes needed in attitudes to waste generation.

The evolving sustainability agenda challenges every organisation and every role within that organisation.  With the right skills and knowledge, FMs continue to be well placed to retain a central role in supporting sustainability goals, reflecting a responsible business culture, and driving change that benefits the organisation and its employees but also the full value chain and wider community.