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Collaboration key to 'sustainability crunch' says BIFM report

Businesses are finding it increasingly more difficult to implement and manage sustainability policies, according to research by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

The annual BIFM Sustainability Survey, this year in collaboration with Cambium and Acclaro Advisory, explores how UK organisations are approaching sustainability, what the key drivers and barriers to their sustainability policies are, and how they could be improved.

The survey, now in its ninth year, reveals a 20% decline in confidence among businesses in their ability to implement and manage their environmental, sustainability and CSR policies compared to 2014. Despite sustainability pledges featuring within all of the political manifestos this year, the response from business appears muted says the BIFM, with 40% of respondents saying they thought their organisation was ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ at implementing sustainability, compared to over half (60%) last year, and 43% in 2013.

The noticeable drop coincides with a reported increase in barriers to fulfilling sustainable practices. Physical constraints were highlighted by 80% of respondents, while financial constraints (71%) and a lack of organisational engagement (69%) were the next most commonly cited obstacles, requiring organisations to sharpen their focus and modify their sustainability strategies if they are to reap the benefits of long-term sustainable business practice.

The survey also found that over a third of respondents had no formal reporting system or data collection process when measuring effective sustainability outputs, resulting in a lack of evidence when it comes to building and reinforcing the business case of sustainability among leadership teams.

Gareth Tancred, ceo of BIFM commented: “Despite increased pressure on businesses to be more sustainable, we are actually seeing a decline in their ability to do so. What is clear from our findings is that organisations need to re-think their approach to sustainability in the face of increasing barriers. In nine years of conducting this survey, 2015 has seen the biggest year-on-year decrease recorded and historically, sustainability has been dominated by a tick-box mentality by business which is undermining the long-term value of sustainability investment.

“Whilst it is encouraging to see so many organisations regarding sustainability as an important part of their corporate agenda, businesses must adopt more formal processes to monitor and measure progress and avoid a short-termist view of sustainable business practice. What is needed to address the ‘sustainability crunch’ is more collaborative working, to look beyond purely environmental connotations such as energy consumption, climate change and waste management, and integrate policies aligned with societal sustainability, such as the Living Wage. The risk of not doing so is that organisations are accused of only paying lip service to sustainability.”

Download the full report here.

UK & NI Ireland | Sustainability


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