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How Facilities Management Is Shaping the State of Corporate Sustainability

Apr 1, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

Every year, Atrius shares its State of Corporate Sustainability report, which gathers responses from facilities, energy, and sustainability professionals to understand the trends and challenges these teams and their organizations currently face. With sustainability becoming a bigger priority year by year, how are facilities teams contributing to progress—and what do they need to make a bigger impact?

While facilities managers may not always see themselves as a contributor to corporate efforts to reduce carbon emissions, their duties often play a role—for example, metering, checking on energy intensive equipment, and optimizing resources. Below, we analyze the biggest findings for facilities management professionals to understand what’s being accomplished and where there’s room for further growth.

Facilities Teams Need More Organizational Support to Drive Sustainability Programs

Buildings are a major contributor to carbon emissions, accounting for about 40% of all total emissions in the world—and facilities management teams can play a key role in mitigating their organizations’ contributions here. But this year’s survey found that facilities respondents, compared to other groups, were:

  • The most likely to say they didn’t know where their organization was at in its sustainability journey (10% compared to 6% total responses).
  • The least likely to use tools that propel sustainability programs by automating data collection, identifying anomalies in real time, or providing fault detection (46% compared to 53%).
  • Very likely to say they did not have the budget needed to achieve sustainability goals (63%)—in stark contrast with how C-suite respondents answered (43%).

Facilities professionals can help their organizations significantly reduce their emissions, but their organizations need to ensure they provide the necessary budget and up-to-date tools to help them get started. Organizations don’t necessarily need to provide a large budget to get started—just one investment into one energy efficiency project or specific tool can quickly create a return on investment, which in turn can create more budget for larger undertakings. Making sure that facilities teams are aligned with organizational sustainability goals can lead to swift progress and better business outcomes for everyone.

Professionals Need Tech to Drive Sustainability—and Vice Versa

One of the most critical findings this year was that nearly half of all respondents said that the biggest barriers to implementing their sustainability challenges were data quality problems and lack of labor/manpower. These challenges represent organizations’ dual need for innovative tech tools and skilled professionals that can bring the best out of their applications.

To the first point, technology can help overcome both of these barriers. Automated data collection, for example, can improve data quality by eliminating the potential for human error when measuring, transcribing or calculating numbers. It also reduces the amount of time facilities workers spend manually collecting this data—meaning their work hours and expertise can go toward big-picture problem solving, project planning, and implementation.

At the end of the day, tech exists as an aid to human ability and expertise. In the hands of facilities teams, it helps them accomplish smaller tasks with more precision and efficiency. With more time and resources, they can apply their skills and expertise to more valuable tasks and projects across a portfolio of buildings, setting and progressing goals and targets to improve an entire portfolio’s energy efficiency and sustainability year by year.

Sustainability Commitments Are on the Rise

Overall, this year’s report found that more and more organizations are integrating sustainability goals into their business structure. Respondents were asked how their businesses are folding their ESG goals into their overall business strategy; all answer options, from corporate investments to compensation structure, grew from last year. While a quarter said it’s not part of their organizations’ strategy, that number seems to be shrinking. Businesses are also committing to more communications about their goals and accomplishments, like annual carbon emissions reporting (including scope 3, or supply-chain-generated, emissions).

These increases are heartening to see, and combined with other findings discussed earlier, it paints a picture of where organizational focus can continue growing. By working alongside their on-the-ground sustainability leaders like their facilities teams, organizations can be sure they’re working with precise and reliable data as they ramp up their efforts and work toward publicly and internally shared goals.

Lauren Scott is vice president of marketing and sustainability of the Intelligent Spaces Group at Acuity Brands. Scott specializes in translating climate initiatives into meaningful action to deliver on commitments to the building and renewables sectors.

The post How Facilities Management Is Shaping the State of Corporate Sustainability appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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