Survey finds only 14% of facilities professionals believe their companies should be more ambitious in setting green objectives for the workplace

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A survey by the BIFM (British Institute of Facilities Management) and Low Carbon Workplace Ltd has found that only 14% of facilities management professionals feel their companies should be more ambitious in setting environmental standards in the workplace as part of their strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

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A survey by the BIFM (British Institute of Facilities Management) and Low Carbon Workplace Ltd has found that only 14% of facilities management professionals feel their companies should be more ambitious in setting environmental standards in the workplace as part of their strategy to reduce carbon emissions. Almost 80% of survey respondents believe the scope of their organisations’ workplace environmental objectives should be achievable, yet only 64% are confident in their organisation’s ability to achieve those goals successfully.

According to the Carbon Trust, the UK’s non-domestic buildings are responsible for 108million tonnes CO2, around 18% of total UK CO2 emissions. As government targets are to reduce the UK’s 1990 levels by 80% by 2050, the focus is on the UK’s workplaces as a source of carbon emissions reduction.

‘People’ factors remain the main obstacle for achieving workplace environmental objectives. Common hurdles to carbon emissions reduction include budget constraints and sustaining staff motivation. Despite evidence of a willingness among employees to support environmental goals, respondents report that 71% of organisations do not state these objectives in staff job descriptions. Low Carbon Workplace advises companies to ensure senior-level backing for carbon-reducing strategies to sustain levels of employee compliance.

“Organisations must bridge the gaps to deliver on their green ambitions for the workplace. Engaging all the stakeholders, working together to overcome competing priorities and putting in place a broad-based carbon management programme is fundamental to achieving deep-reaching carbon reductions”, said Katharine Deas, Managing Director, Low Carbon Workplace.

“Organisations are making steady, incremental reductions by setting achievable targets”, said Ian Fielder, CEO, BIFM, “the challenge is ensuring these targets are ambitious enough, and comprehensive enough, to make the necessary step-change in carbon emissions reduction”.

There are signs that carbon emissions reduction is a true benchmark across businesses today, as 91% of respondents cited corporate reputation as a benefit of pursuing workplace environmental objectives and 46% nominated it as the sole main driver (double the number that chose financial benefits). There is a growing recognition that green credentials are business credentials too.

Ten tips to achieve your organisation’s workplace environmental objectives
1.    Draw up and publish a set of environmental objectives (if you are one of 20% of organisations which have not yet done so)
2.    Ensure your CEO or a Board member agree to act as the initiative sponsor
3.    Embed your organisation’s environmental objectives into all staff objectives
4.    Seek to include environmental objectives and progress within existing communication channels
5.    Establish a cross-departmental workplace environment group (for example with representatives from HR, FM, Finance and CSR)
6.    Identify and encourage ‘carbon champions’ for each department
7.    Communicate and display progress against objectives to create healthy competition between teams
8.    Engage groups that are highly affected by policy to solve challenges in a ‘bottom-up’ approach
9.    Look to engage stakeholders outside the organisation and keep them updated with progress
10.    Take steps to log your organisation’s carbon footprint.

“Green Ambitions for the Workplace” survey findings at a glance

72% are not aware of their organisation’s total energy use

80% feel the scope of their organisation’s environmental objectives is achievable

14% feel their companies should be more ambitious in their workplace environmental objectives

27% have full confidence in their organisations’ ability to achieve its environmental objectives (while 64% are fairly confident)

71% of organisations report that environmental objectives are not included in staff job descriptions

91% view corporate reputation and 71% cite financial drivers as benefits of pursuing workplace environmental objectives

46% cite corporate reputation as the sole main benefit - nearly twice the number who chose ‘financial benefits’ (24%)

70% of landlords are not aware of their tenant’s workplace environmental ambitions

90% of respondents are working with the wider employee base to achieve workplace environmental objectives to a greater or lesser extent

43% are actively working across the entire organisation with environmental champions in each department

And the single biggest challenge to achieving objectives? Budget constraints and winning and maintaining staff engagement are neck and neck at 30% each.

“Green Ambitions for the Workplace” was an online survey completed by 170 professionals with responsibility for facilities and estate management in a range of private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations across the UK. They included small/medium enterprises (23%), organisations of 250-1000 employees (23%) and organisations of 1000+ employees (41%). The survey was conducted 8 - 22 February 2011.

The BIFM, British Institute of Facilities Management, is the ‘natural home’ of facilities management in the UK. Founded in 1993, the Institute provides information, education, training and networking services for over 12,000 members – both individual professionals and organisations.

Low Carbon Workplace Ltd is the exclusive Carbon Advisor to the Low Carbon Workplace partnership, an initiative set up by the Carbon Trust, the developer Stanhope and asset manager Threadneedle in March 2010 to develop and manage affordable ‘green’ office buildings, and provide occupiers with ongoing support in minimising their carbon emissions and achieving independent certification to the Low Carbon Workplace Standard.

For further information, please contact:
Karen Weeks, BIFM
T: 0845 058 1356                            
E: karen(dot)weeks(at)bifm(dot)org(dot)uk

Joanna Thorpe or Anna Ridout, Low Carbon Workplace Ltd             
T: 020 7631 7490/4                             
E: Joanna(dot)thorpe(at)lowcarbonworkplace(dot)com or anna(dot)ridout(at)lowcarbonworkplace(dot)com

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