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ESG: The Facility Manager’s Role

May 9, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

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By contributing to environmental, social and governance initiatives, facility managers can get a seat at the C-suite table

For the facility teams who no longer want to be looked at as glorified sanitation engineers, tool belt men and women, or hot and cold call responders — and want to take their facilities programs to the next level — ESG provides that opportunity.

Many companies and organizations realize that it is no longer acceptable to operate solely off the idea that the bottom line is all that matters. Instead, they are contributing beneficial investments in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).

ESG initiatives include implementing energy savings projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, selecting products that are produced in a sustainable way, or choosing vendors that share the same mindset, among other examples. If the facility team is fortunate enough to contribute to the success, it can easily showcase to leadership that your team has the skills, talents, capabilities, and drive that go beyond hot and cold calls or putting out “fires” in reaction to an everyday facilities issue. With ESG opportunities, every facility team can have a seat at the C-suite table we’ve all been wanting to sit at for years. And not only sit at the table, but make a significant impact.

ESG in facilities management

The idea of ESG is nothing new. It has been through name changes, deriving in the early 2000s under the name “Corporate Social Responsibility” and sustainability. There will certainly be more name changes over the years as the impact it has increases.

By integrating ESG principles into the operations, facility managers can proactively identify risks, adopt sustainable practices, and maintain compliance in different areas that will reduce the likelihood of fines, penalties, and prevent unnecessary emergency activity. With these good ESG practices, teams can develop a strategy that focuses on value through reduced costs, boosted productivity, solid asset management, and sustainable investing.

ESG practices could include energy efficiency optimization, improving indoor air quality, reducing water consumption, providing comfortable and ergonomically sound workspaces, implementing renewable energy solutions, minimizing waste generations, and incorporating wellness initiatives. These goals can influence the design, construction, and operations of facilities, which can lead to long-term environmental and health and wellness benefits for all employees.

The significance of ESG is that facility managers are creating opportunities to engage with stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers, and the local communities, to address their concerns and foster positive relationships. These relationships have a serious impact on brand reputation for the facilities team and organization internally and externally.

There was a point in time when adopting ESG principles in facilities management was considered a luxury; something that wasn’t needed to increase success. But more than ever, investors, consumers, and potential employees are looking to be a part of organizations that show they care. A company’s failure to consider ESG principles will see a decline in productivity, higher operating costs, penalties, and unnecessary fines.

Getting started with ESG

Before facility managers start working on their departments’ contribution to the ESG strategy, to keep things from getting too overwhelming, it’s a great idea to create a team of qualified individuals to identify and evaluate opportunities where the department can shine. By getting an idea of where you are and what’s currently going on, you can better establish and be realistic toward attainable goals. At the end of the day we’re not just helping the organization, we’re also attempting to make this journey a win-win for the company and the facilities team.

Having longevity in mind and being intentional about the efforts we put into the process is key. Figure out who the major stakeholders are and engage with them to see what specific ESG issues matter. Perform assessments and surveys, set up consistent communication and updates for the major stakeholders. Operating in this intentional way will force you to continuously update data, evaluate goals, and compare best practices to increase effectiveness.

One of the three ESG categories may be more important to the organization than the others, which will naturally require more attention. Assigning equal efforts to all three principles actually can negatively impact the strategy and plan moving forward. It’s the equivalent of reading three different books on a single subject when your professor clearly stated in the syllabus only one book was required for the final exam. While reading different literature on a single subject can be beneficial, time and energy could have been fixated on the information that mattered most at the time.

The goal is to have all efforts contribute to the same ambition, including using the facilities team to add value to the organization. A well-orchestrated plan must be drafted, put into place, and then executed. Before all that though, establishing where you are in ESG as an organization and then as a team is key.

Considering ESG in facilities management might seem like an added expense and burden but it’s certainly worth it if done correctly. Throughout the entire ESG journey, keep in mind these four key points: communication, advocation, intentionality, and productivity.

Communicating your ESG strategy to your stakeholders while demonstrating alignment to current and future business objectives grabs attention. Correlating the ESG work with the organization’s specific goals and metrics gives the perception that we’re working toward the same goal. An example of this is having a PDF report readily available for the people that need it and making that report very simple and to the point. Doing this type of regular progress reporting and making the data easy to comprehend and then act on is what people want. We want to make it so that there aren’t many questions of what is going on after whoever takes in what is being communicated.

Advocate for the facility management team as they contribute to making visible differences for the organization. Collaborate with whomever you need to get the correct message across. Utilizing the organization’s resources never hurt anything. It could be the organization’s sales personnel, PR team, or even the marketing team. If we’re all on the same team and our goals are aligned with the organization’s goals and values, then everyone can have the same mindset, tap into it, and produce great work.

With ESG, facilities teams can provide information that adds to the bigger picture of strengthening the brand. Companies that make efforts to improve labor conditions, promote diversity, remain environmentally compliant, and give back to the community remain sustainable.

In the long run, any organization can benefit from ESG by seeing lowered operating costs, improved brand reputations, and access to new markets and investment opportunities. How it’s done is what matters the most. The idea, the mindset, the research, the planning, the intentionality, communication, and execution. As the organization wins, facility managers win. And when they win, facilities teams across the country can continue to create opportunities to show what they’re made of.

By Charles Thomas, Facility Influencer

Charles M. Thomas is an operations professional, consultant, and writer who has held positions with reputable organizations as a facilities & operations manager, operations manager, and a technical writer. As a facility operations consultant with LACE Management Services, he helps organizations build their programs from the ground up, enhances their existing programs, and serves as a communicator for a generation of young professionals. 

The post "ESG: The Facility Manager’s Role" appeared first on Building Operating & Management


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