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Business isn’t bridging the sustainability gap

26 June 2015 | Jamie Harris

The 9th annual BIFM Sustainability Survey has identified that there are more barriers to organisations adopting sustainability practices.


A panel of FM professionals and sustainability experts discussed the findings at a joint BIFM Wales Region and Sustainability special interest group event, hosted by Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.


Greg Davies, committee member of the special interest group, explained that the findings showed a 20 per cent drop in the number of people who believe they are very good or excellent in their sustainability effectiveness.


“Organisational engagement was the lowest barrier for sustainability practices in the 2008 survey. That figure has now grown by 50 per cent, and is now the highest barrier this year.”


Sunil Shah managing director at consultancy Acclaro Advisory, said that there was ‘a gap between expectations of individuals and conversations taking place’ at board level, as a result of the sustainability agenda becoming more mainstream.


“Communication does not come out well in this survey,” said John McEachen, partner at Cambium LLP, a business sustainability consultancy.


Tony O’Donnell, also of Cambium LLP, said: “There’s a gap between what the CEO is saying and what is happening [in the organisation]."


Shah explained that for this to change, different departments within organisations, such as FM, IT and HR, must collaborate for sustainability processes to take shape.


“Coalescing those groups together can deliver a better whole,” he said.


Polly Plunket-Checkemian, head of research and insight at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial property consultancy, believes that FM professionals are becoming ‘beleaguered’ by the raft of environmental legislation.


“It is chewing up resource for bigger ticket items,” she said.


Plunket-Checkemian agreed with other panellists that work needed to be done across the industry to improve engagement within organisations. 


“There is a difference between an initiative and a business strategy."


The report also showed that just 42 per cent of respondents have ISO 14001 in place. Thirty-six per cent of respondents said that they had no sustainability system or standard in place in their organisation.


Plunket-Checkemian suggested that more needed to be done to convince business leaders of the value of sustainability practices.


“It needs to have resonance at board level. We are not doing nearly enough at the moment about how it [sustainability] drive competitive advantage for organisations."


The full report can be downloaded here.