17 April, 2023 | Posted by Jenny Smith

A Greener Future: Creating & Implementing a Sustainability Policy for FM

Green building for sustainable FM

Sustainability has grown in importance as a concern for businesses and organizations worldwide in recent years. Facilities management is one area where this concern is particularly significant. The management of facilities can have a substantial impact on the environment and the bottom line. Buildings contribute significantly to the world's greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, developing and putting into effect a sustainability policy for facilities management has become a crucial responsibility for businesses aiming to lower their carbon footprint and encourage more ethical behavior. We will examine the procedures for developing and implementing a sustainability policy for facilities management in this article, offering suggestions for those looking to make their buildings more ecologically and financially sustainable.

Step 1: Setting Specific and Measurable Goals

A vital first step in developing a sustainability policy that can be successfully implemented and monitored is setting clear, measurable targets. When setting goals, keep the following in mind:

  1. Identify relevant metrics: Choose indicators that are pertinent to the sustainability objectives of your firm. For instance, if lowering greenhouse gas emissions is one of your goals, you could want to calculate your company's carbon footprint.
  2.  Make sure objectives are reachable: Goals should be difficult but also attainable and realistic. When establishing goals, take into account the present sustainability performance of your firm and the resources available to accomplish change.
  3. Make your goals time-bound: Your goals should have a deadline for completion. This makes it easier to confirm that the organisation is responsible for accomplishing the objectives and that the goals are being advanced.
  4. Set benchmarks for success: : By setting benchmarks, you can decide what constitutes success for each goal. This gives direction on how the aim is progressing and presents an opportunity to celebrate achievement when benchmarks are reached.
  5. Monitor and report progress: Once objectives are established, it's critical to track and report on the development of those objectives. This gives a chance to recognise achievements and point out areas that require more work.

Examples of specific and measurable sustainability goals include:

  • By the end of the year, cutting energy use by 20%.
  • By 2025, there will be no waste going to landfills.
  • Within the following two years, the utilization of renewable energy will be increased by 50%.
  • Putting in place a sustainable procurement policy that guarantees 50% of all items are obtained responsibly within the following five years.

Facilities managers can contribute to the advancement of a more sustainable future and show the organisation's commitment to sustainability by establishing precise and quantifiable targets.


Step 2: Conducting an Environmental Audit


Setting up a thorough sustainability policy requires conducting an environmental audit. When conducting an environmental audit, keep the following in mind:

  1. Choose which areas to audit: Decide which organisational areas will be audited. Buildings, facilities, operations, the supply chain, and transportation may all fall under this category.
  2. Assemble data: Obtain information on the use of water, waste production, energy, and other pertinent environmental issues. Utility bills, equipment records, and on-site inspections can all be used for this.
  3. Analyse the data: Analyse the data to find your strengths and weaknesses as well as places where you may improve. This analysis can aid in determining the sustainability policy's priority target areas.
  4. Determine stakeholders: Determine the parties engaged in the creation and execution of the sustainability policy. Employees, vendors, clients, and regulatory bodies may be included in this.
  5. Create an action plan: Create an action plan for implementing the sustainability strategy based on the findings of the environmental audit. This plan should specify the exact steps to be done, the implementation schedule, and the success measures.

By conducting an environmental audit, facilities managers can identify areas of opportunity for improving sustainability within the organization. This information can then be used to develop a targeted and effective sustainability policy that addresses the organization's unique sustainability challenges.

Several areas for auditing and data collection include:

  1. Energy usage: Compile information on lighting, HVAC, gas, and electricity use.
  2. Waste output: Identify the quantity and types of trash generated by the organisation, as well as the rates of recycling and composting.
  3. Water Usage: Collect information on how much water is used in buildings, processes, and outdoor landscaping.
  4. Supply chain: Examine the environmental impact of suppliers and look for chances to source and buy things sustainably.
  5. Transportation: Consider the environmental effects of the organisation's transportation practices, such as employee travel and product delivery.


Step 3: Engage Stakeholders

A sustainability policy cannot be developed and implemented successfully without the participation of stakeholders. Examples of stakeholders include people in the community who are influenced by the organisation's operations, such as employees, customers, suppliers, governing bodies, and others. The following should be considered while involving stakeholders:

  1. Identify stakeholders: Determine stakeholders' influence and level of interest in the sustainability policy by identifying the stakeholders. Involvement activities may then be prioritised as a result.

  2. Create a communication strategy: Create a communication strategy that explains how stakeholders will be involved all along the way. Meetings, surveys, workshops, and other forms of communication may be included in this.

  3. Feedback: Pay attention to stakeholder feedback, and take their suggestions into account when developing the sustainability policy. This may promote policy acceptance and support.

  4. Stakeholder education and training: Inform and prepare stakeholders on the value of sustainability and how they may support the organisation's sustainability objectives. This may promote awareness and participation.

  5. Work with stakeholders to identify solutions that are beneficial to all parties and consistent with sustainability objectives. Building credibility and trust with stakeholders can be facilitated by this.

    Activities that include engaging stakeholders include:
  • Organising seminars or focus groups to get opinions from staff and clients on the most important sustainability issues.
  • Conducting sustainability training workshops for staff to boost knowledge of sustainability concepts.
  • Identifying sustainable sourcing solutions and incorporating them throughout the procurement process with suppliers.
  • Coordinating with regulatory organisations to guarantee adherence to pertinent environmental laws.

    Facilities managers may increase support and make sure the sustainability strategy is in line with stakeholder interests and concerns by including stakeholders throughout the development and implementation process. This may contribute to improving effectiveness.

Step 4: Using Technology and Innovation

The use of technology and innovation is crucial to building a sustainable facility. When using technology and innovation to increase sustainability, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Do some research: Look into cutting-edge ideas and new technologies that can help your facility become more sustainable. To make sure new innovations and technologies are cost-effective, consider the cost-benefit analysis.
  2. Invest in energy-saving hardware: Energy-saving options should be used in place of outdated and inefficient machinery. This covers workplace furnishings, HVAC, and lighting.
  3. Install renewable energy sources: To produce clean energy for your facility, install renewable energy sources like solar or wind turbines. This may lessen your dependency on fossil fuels and help you leave a smaller carbon impact.
  4. Use water-saving technologies: Make use of water-saving technologies including rainwater collection, low-flow toilets, and faucets. This can lower costs and promote water conservation.
  5. Reduce Waste: Implement waste-reduction strategies, such as composting and recycling, to reduce waste. Take into account cutting-edge solutions including waste-to-energy technologies and closed-loop systems.
Examples of utilising innovation and technology to enhance sustainability include:

  • Installing smart lighting systems that turn on and off lights using motion sensors to save energy.
  • Putting in place a building management system that keeps an eye on HVAC and energy use and looks for ways to enhance.
  • Installing rooftop solar panels to supply the building with renewable energy.
  • Using a composting system to produce nutrient-rich soil for landscaping while preventing food waste from going to the landfill.
  • Putting in place a closed-loop water system that collects and recycles sewage for uses other than potable water.
Facilities managers can influence positive environmental change inside their firm by using technology and innovation to increase sustainability. These options can help the company cut expenses, increase productivity, and lessen its environmental impact.


Step 5: Monitoring & Reporting Progress

A successful sustainability policy must include monitoring and reporting progress. When tracking and reporting progress, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Establish essential metrics: Determine the important measures that will be used to gauge the sustainability targets' progress. These could include things like water use, waste production, and energy consumption.
  2. Decide on reporting cycles: Establish the frequency of progress reports on sustainability targets. On a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis is possible.
  3. Assemble data: To track advancement toward objectives, gather information on sustainability performance on a regular basis. Utility bills, equipment records, and on-site inspections may all contain this information.
  4. Analyse the data: Analyse the data to find areas of success and those that need more work. This research can be used to identify areas for improvement and to inform changes to the sustainability policy.
  5. Communicate development: Inform stakeholders of your progress toward sustainability targets on a regular basis. Sustainability reports, yearly reports, or other forms of communication might be used for this.
Monitoring and reporting progress examples include:

  • Regular examination of energy bills to spot changes in energy consumption.
  • Quarterly waste audits are carried out to spot variations in waste output and diversion rates.
  • Weekly monitoring of water use is necessary to find areas of water waste and opportunities for conservation.
  • Annually reviewing supplier sustainability performance information to find areas for development.

Facilities managers may demonstrate their organisation's commitment to sustainability and pinpoint areas that need more attention by tracking and reporting progress toward sustainability targets. Regular reporting gives you the chance to showcase your accomplishments and win over stakeholders' respect.

Common Obstacles when Implementing a Sustainability Policy

A sustainability policy's implementation may encounter a number of challenges. Among the potential difficulties to be mindful of are the following:

  1. Change: Employee or management resistance to change can be a major barrier to the implementation of a sustainability policy. Effective stakeholder involvement and communication can help with this.
  2. Lack of resources: The implementation of a sustainability policy can call for more money, staff time, and technology. In order to effectively implement the strategy, it is crucial to secure sufficient resources.
  3. Limited understanding of sustainability: Some workers or stakeholders can be unfamiliar with sustainability issues and their effects. Awareness and comprehension of sustainability concepts can be raised with the use of education and training.
  4. Regulatory impediments: Impediments to sustainability can include out-of-date or prohibitive regulations. Getting involved with regulatory organisations and promoting policy changes can help you get past these barriers.
  5. Focus: Organisations may place a higher priority on short-term financial advantages than long-term sustainability objectives. To get through this barrier, it's critical to show the sustainability's long-term financial advantages.
  6. Lack of support from the leadership: Without the support of the leadership, sustainability efforts may not get the funding and attention they need to succeed. It's crucial to get leadership's support and involve them in the creation and implementation of the sustainability policy.

Facilities managers may create ways to overcome these potential barriers by being aware of them and ensuring that a sustainability policy is successfully implemented. Involvement of stakeholders, resource allocation, advocacy for policy change, and communication and education are a few examples of this.


Key Legislation to consider

When developing and putting into practice a sustainability policy, facilities managers should be aware of several important pieces of legislation. These consist of:

  1. Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015: This lays forth the foundation for Ireland's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a target of at least 80% reduction by 2050.
  2. EU Energy Efficiency Directive: In order to increase energy efficiency and lower energy consumption, the EU Energy Efficiency Directive lays out standards for energy audits and energy management systems in major businesses.
  3. Waste Management Act of 1996: This law establishes the rules for managing waste in Ireland, including those for waste minimisation, recycling, and disposal.
  4. Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992: This law created Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of overseeing and upholding the country's environmental laws.
  5. Water Framework Directive: This lays out standards for the management and conservation of Ireland's water resources, including steps to lessen water pollution and preserve water supplies.
  6. The European Union's Renewable Energy Directive : This lays forth standards for the use of renewable energy sources, as well as production and consumption targets.

The rules, licenses, and permits that relate to the activities of their organisation on a local, state, and federal level should also be known to facilities managers. Facilities managers may make sure your sustainability policy is legal and effective at bringing about positive environmental change by staying up to date on pertinent legislation.


Resources and supports available

Facilities managers can get assistance from a number of organisations and resources when developing and putting into practice a sustainability policy. These resources' links can be found at the bottom of this page. These consist of:

  1. Irish Green Building Council: The Irish Green Building Council is a nonprofit organisation that promotes sustainable building methods in Ireland through education, training, and assistance.
  2. Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland: The Information and resources on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendly transportation are available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
  3. Environmental Protection Agency: The Environmental Protection Agency offers advice and assistance to businesses that want to follow Irish environmental law.
  4. Local Authorities: In Ireland, local authorities offer advice and assistance on waste management, environmental protection, and environmentally friendly transportation.
  5. The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC): The IBEC offers direction and assistance to businesses wishing to adopt sustainable practices.
  6. The Irish National Standards Authority: Ireland's National Standards Authority offers guidelines and specifications for environmental management systems, including ISO 14001.
  7. The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA): They offer networking, education, and training options for facilities managers who are interested in sustainability.

    Facilities managers can get the help and direction they need to develop and put into practice an effective sustainability policy by utilising these organisations and services. These tools can connect facilities managers with a network of sustainability experts, give access to pertinent standards and best practices, and assist in informing decision-making.


In conclusion, facilities managers who are devoted to minimising their company's environmental impact should start by developing and adopting a sustainability policy. Setting precise, quantifiable targets, conducting an environmental audit, utilising technology and innovation, and tracking and reporting success are important factors to take into account when creating a sustainability policy. Facilities managers can create a thorough sustainability policy that addresses the needs of their firm by taking into account the particular environmental aspects of Ireland and maintaining up to date on pertinent legislation and resources. To foster support and guarantee the policy's successful execution, it's crucial to involve stakeholders, including staff members, suppliers, and regulatory bodies, at every stage of the process. Facilities managers can demonstrate their organisation's dedication to environmental stewardship by taking steps to increase sustainability and positive change.

Want to know more about Sustainability in FM?

Facilities managers can benefit greatly from the two sustainability policy courses offered by Portobello Institute. The first course is a brief one called "IWFM 5 Sustainability and Environmental Issues in FM." This training, which is frequently presented throughout the year, gives facilities managers knowledge of the major sustainability problems the sector is currently experiencing. Among other things, the course covers subjects including waste management, sustainable sourcing, and energy efficiency. For facilities managers wishing to develop a solid understanding of sustainability in FM, this quick training is a great choice.

A post-graduate diploma in Innovation for Sustainability for FM is the institute's second programme. This is a more in-depth course that is ran over a 4 month period and provides students with the understanding of sustainability in FM. Sustainable building design, energy management, and corporate social responsibility are just a few of the subjects covered in the course. The post-graduate certificate is available online through interactive webinars and is presented twice a year, in the fall and spring.

Participants get access to both courses and assistance is provided to cover their costs. Facilities managers can benefit from these courses by learning the knowledge and abilities required to create and put into practice a thorough sustainability policy. Facilities managers may benefit from the courses' increased awareness, comprehension, and practical abilities as they work to improve the environment within their companies.

To find out more you can visit our FM department page here.

Get in Contact

You can book a one-to-one, free consultation call with our expert FM advisor Brandon McLean here, email brandon.mclean@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0035. 


Relevant links and Resources

  1. Irish Green Building Council: 
  2. Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
  3. Environmental Protection Agency:
  4. Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC): 
  5. The National Standards Authority of Ireland
  6. Institute of Workplace & Facilities Management
  7. International Facilities Management Association (IFMA):
  8. Origin Green - Sustainable Food Production 


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