What is facility management sustainability and why care about it?

According to the Brundtland Commission, sustainability is the “ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” As the public increases its demand for sustainability and the government implements a growing number of environmentally focused policies and regulations, facility managers must stand up and take notice.

Facilities Make Big Impact

When you consider facilities management as an industry, we make a big impact in energy consumption and materials usage. In fact, buildings alone consume roughly 40 percent of all the energy usage in the United States and about 34 percent of worldwide energy usage. Along with that energy usage comes a big carbon footprint as well. Taking an active role in improving sustainability is simply the right thing to do.

Sustainability is a Competitive Advantage

Sustainability has been a hot topic for years, and continues to dominate news articles, blog topics, industry thought pieces, and conference presentations. In fact, Price Waterhouse Coopers found that nearly 80 percent of 1,000 CEOs surveyed around the world believe that sustainability is critical to long-term profitability. It’s not only a matter of satisfying public demand for sustainability, but these practices also reduce risk, increase efficiency, and advance technological developments.

Complementary Goods

Taking that last thought another step further, sustainability is not a stand-alone component of facilities management. In reality, it’s a “good” that complements many other things maintenance managers strive for.

For example, businesses who choose to obtain certification from the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, will clearly see that sustainability requirements maximize operational efficiency, reduce operating costs, increase employee productivity, and function in an environmentally responsible manner.

All these things, often priorities for facility managers, work together in a single, coordinated effort.

Key Areas

If you’re convinced that sustainability is important, where do you start? The four areas where facility management can make the largest impact are increasing energy efficiency; sourcing sustainable and long-lasting materials; green cleaning initiatives and products; and improving waste management. Start with the area that’s the highest priority for your organization, and begin making sustainability improvements one at a time.

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