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Firms face ‘sustainability crunch’, says BIFM

Gareth Tancred
Gareth Tancred

26 June 2015 

It is increasingly difficult for organisations to implement and manage sustainability policies, according to a new report. 


The annual BIFM sustainability survey, now in its ninth year, shows a 20 per cent year-on-year decline in the confidence of those surveyed in their ability to implement and manage environmental, sustainability and CSR policies.


Although 40 per cent of respondents believed their organisation was ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ at implementing sustainability, that compares to a figure of  60 per cent last year and 43 per cent in 2013.


The decline in confidence coincides with a reported increase in barriers to fulfilling sustainable practices. Physical constraints were highlighted by 80 per cent of respondents, while financial constraints (71 per cent) and a lack of organisational engagement (69 per cent) were the next most commonly cited obstacles.


The report’s authors suggest that these challenges will require organisations to sharpen their focus and modify their sustainability strategies if they are to reap the benefits of long-term sustainable business practice.


The survey, produced this year in collaboration with Cambium and Acclaro Advisory, explores how UK organisations are approaching sustainability, what the key drivers and barriers to their sustainability policies are, and how they could be improved.


The survey also found that over a third (36 per cent) of respondents had no formal reporting system or data collection process when measuring effective sustainability outputs, resulting in a lack of evidence when it comes to building and reinforcing the business case of sustainability among leadership teams.


Gareth Tancred, CEO of BIFM said: “Despite increased pressure on businesses to be more sustainable, we are actually seeing a decline in their ability to do so. What is clear from our findings is that organisations need to re-think their approach to sustainability in the face of increasing barriers. In nine years of conducting this survey, 2015 has seen the biggest year-on-year decrease recorded and historically, sustainability has been dominated by a tick-box mentality by business which is undermining the long-term value of sustainability investment. 


“Whilst it is encouraging to see so many organisations regarding sustainability as an important part of their corporate agenda, businesses must adopt more formal processes to monitor and measure progress and avoid a short-termist view of sustainable business practice. What is needed to address the ‘sustainability crunch’ is more collaborative working, to look beyond purely environmental connotations such as energy consumption, climate change and waste management, and integrate policies aligned with societal sustainability, such as the Living Wage. The risk of not doing so is that organisations are accused of only paying lip service to sustainability.”

To download a copy of the report, please click here.