Facility managers are increasingly following a master plan when implementing sustainable practices and are tying their efforts to measurable goals and business strategy, according to the results of a new International Facility Management Association (IFMA) survey. This is good news for contractors who can show the benefits of providing good O&M practices. The study, “Green Practices 2008,” shows that while recycling and energy conservation initiatives are being practiced by most facility practitioners, financial challenges still present the biggest impediment to going green. That’s why showing the financial benefits is so important.

The report examines the forces driving sustainability; the green practices being employed; and the challenges facility managers face in implementing sustainable initiatives. It was based on a survey of 573 professionals worldwide.

Despite the increasing numbers, most survey respondents still said they are implementing green building concepts without a master plan; 17 percent said they are adhering to an actual plan - a 9 percent increase over similar data from 2002. There are still some respondents who said they have not implemented any green strategies, and neither do they plan to, but their numbers fell from 16 percent in 2002 to 5 percent this year.

Ninety-two percent of the survey’s respondents said they are working to make their facilities more sustainable, and the same percentage say they have measurable goals related to sustainability. Seventy-nine percent say these goals are linked to their organization’s business strategy.

Who’s driving the change? According to 67 percent of the respondents, customers are motivating the altered mindsets of owners.


Who’s in charge of making these changes internally? Mechanical contractors will probably find this interesting:

• 26 percent of respondents said they have designated someone to handle sustainability in addition to his or her other duties. Will they be looking to delegate if they can justify the cost?

• 32 percent said that no one individual or group has been designated, offering a potential opportunity for mechanical contractors.

• 35 percent said sustainability initiatives are handled by a group or committee.

• 8 percent said they have a person solely dedicated to sustainability initiatives.

Here are some other noteworthy questions and responses, taken directly from the report. When suggesting or implementing sustainable initiatives, what type of challenges have you experienced?

• 73 percent - financial challenges.

• 55 percent - balancing sustainable initiatives with other facilities management duties.

• 47 percent - educating or retraining employees.

• 30 percent - obtaining buy-in from management to foster the cultural changes needed.

• 19 percent - as a tenant, we have limitations in what we can do.

• 19 percent - accreditations that can be cumbersome or costly to implement.

• 17 percent - sourcing sustainable products.

• 10 percent - inability to provide generally accepted financial indicators to share at the C-level.

• 10 percent - finding knowledgeable consultants.

• Other: permitting challenges, finding time.

Which of the following broad sustainable initiatives have you implemented within your organization?

• 90 percent - recycling.

• 85 percent - energy conservation.

• 67 percent - waste reduction.

• 54 percent - water conservation.

• 38 percent - transportation alternatives.

• 34 percent - landscaping.

• 24 percent - use of alternative fuels/renewable energy.

• Other: Reuse of furnishings and supplies, compressed workweek.

If you were asked to address energy use within your organization, what hindrances exist that would prohibit you from starting immediately?

• 71 percent - cost of implementation.

• 40 percent - budget, seed money.

• 35 percent - other (priorities that compete with sustainable initiatives).

“For years, facility managers have been advancing sustainable practices with the aim to lower operating costs and improve efficiency,” said IFMA director of research Shari Epstein. “This study demonstrates the gradual shift toward incorporating sustainability into the overall business strategy, in addition to the overall design and operation of the facility.”

Results of the survey were presented at the World Workplace 2008 Conference & Expo in October, during the Global FM Sustainability Project. To view the report, visit www.ifma.org.

Publication date:12/08/2008