Sustainability And ESG Practices In Facility Management

By Pradeep Lala September 06, 2023

As India embraces conscious capitalism, facility management's role in promoting sustainable practices and integrating ESG principles gains prominence

Sustainability And ESG Practices In Facility Management
Energy efficiency measures encompass real-time energy management, adoption of renewable energy sources like solar panels, and consistent energy audits. Shutterstock

Increased environmental consciousness and ethical business practices have propelled facility management (FM) to transcend from its traditional role of maintenance to strategic drivers of a business. Today, FM has emerged as a strategic driver within businesses, no longer confined to being a cost center.

These strategic initiatives are steering FM towards sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) excellence. Organisations are recognising the pivotal role FM plays in achieving long-term success amid global warming and rising carbon emissions. The swift adoption of meaningful ESG policies is emblematic of a broader commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.

Revolutionising sustainability in FM hinges on reimagining facility design and operations. Some of these initiatives include designing eco-conscious structures that align with green building standards like LEED or BREEAM, featuring energy-efficient elements such as LED lighting, sustainable building materials, and passive solar design. Furthermore, energy efficiency measures encompass real-time energy management, adoption of renewable energy sources like solar panels, and consistent energy audits.

FM companies have the capacity to develop and put into action waste reduction strategies, which place a strong emphasis on minimising waste, implementing recycling programs, and exploring opportunities for diverting waste. Additionally, they can focus on maintaining indoor air quality and employing efficient ventilation systems.

When it comes to landscaping, these companies can opt for native plants, permeable paving materials, and the installation of green roofs or walls. Promoting sustainable transportation practices, including advocating for public transit use, and establishing electric vehicle charging infrastructure, is crucial. To further underscore their dedication to sustainability, FM companies can pursue green certifications like ISO 14001, while also committing to regular sustainability reporting.

Retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient systems, renewable energy sources, and sustainable materials not only reduces environmental impact but also cuts operational costs significantly. The smart cities mission in India is a government initiative that emphasises retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient solutions, aligning with both environmental goals and India's economic vision. FM professionals are now practical, actionable plans must take precedence over mere intentions regarding climate change, disclosures, and diversity.

As India embraces conscious capitalism, facility management's role in promoting sustainable practices and integrating ESG principles gains prominence. Indian FM professionals are shaping a more sustainable future through green design, technological innovation, and comprehensive strategies.

The integration of technology acts as a potent catalyst for sustainable FM transformation. Building management systems (BMS) equipped with sensors and automation streamline energy consumption, optimise HVAC systems, and monitor resource usage. The internet of things (IoT) facilitates real-time equipment performance tracking, enabling predictive maintenance and downtime reduction. This digitalisation enhances operational efficiency and provides data-driven sustainability decision-making.

In India, the 'S' in ESG is gaining prominence. Well-designed workplaces have the potential to enhance both employee productivity and job satisfaction. FM plays a pivotal role in crafting ergonomic and employee-friendly spaces that not only bolster job satisfaction but also encourage collaboration, relaxation, and overall wellness. FM is also instrumental in upholding health and safety standards and nurturing a positive corporate culture that places a premium on inclusivity, employee well-being, and active community engagement. 

To embrace sustainable practices effectively, companies must consider every project life cycle stage, from planning and construction to operation and maintenance. FM plays a vital role in ESG considerations. The adoption of energy-efficient technologies, like renewable energy sources, can significantly minimise environmental impacts on existing buildings. Future buildings must prioritise energy-efficient designs and infrastructure, minimising onsite conventional energy sources and maximising renewable energy use to target a 60–70% reduction in emissions.

Waste management is another crucial aspect of FM, with efforts focused on waste reduction and recycling programs to divert waste from landfills.

Governance considerations extend beyond environmental concerns to encompass social and economic impacts. FM companies are increasingly promoting diversity and inclusion, ensuring employee health and safety, and contributing to the local community through corporate social responsibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and volunteerism.

The transformation of FM into a driving force for sustainability and ESG integration is now a necessity. Organisations recognise that responsible resource management, ethical operations, and social welfare are intertwined with their reputation and long-term viability. By prioritising sustainable facility management, leveraging technology, and adopting a holistic approach, FM professionals can lead the way in creating environmentally conscious, socially responsible, and well-governed spaces. 

(Pradeep Lala is managing director and ceo, Embassy Services Private Limited.)