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The role of FMs in flattening the climate change curve

Jeff Robinson from Aurecon presents at FMA's
virtual networking session on World FM Day. 

More than 40 people attended the Facility Management Association’s first virtual networking session to celebrate World FM Day on 13 May 2020. Participants heard from Duncan Waddell, Chair of Global FM, and Jeff Robinson, Technical Director at Aurecon. In keeping with this year’s theme – “Celebrating Our Environment” – Jeff spoke about The role of facilities managers in flattening the climate change curve.

Over a career spanning more than three decades, Jeff has sought to improve the environmental performance of buildings and urban communities through great architecture and sustainable design. He believes that facilities managers play a critical role in reducing a building’s carbon footprint.

When it comes to addressing climate change, Jeff noted that Australia could learn many lessons from our (so far) successful response to COVID-19. The pandemic has seen people come together, governments work collegiately, and public policy align with expert advice. 

Jeff elaborated the way climate breakdown directly affects health and wellbeing, from bushfire smoke and heat-related illnesses to the novel coronavirus. “The more pressure we put on our natural environment the more likely we are to encounter zoonotic diseases,” he said.   

While the building sector has made some great strides over the last 15 years, there is still a long way to go. Globally, buildings have a huge impact on our environment, accounting for:

  • 20% of all water consumption
  • 25–40% of all energy use
  • 30–40% of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 30–40% of solid waste generation
The number of NABERS rated buildings increases every year.

In Australia, rating schemes such as NABERS and Green Star have had great success in measuring building performance and driving year-on-year improvements in outcomes such as energy efficiency, water use and waste management. NABERS and Green Star are constantly changing to reflect the aspirations of the industry.

Large property owners have already committed to achieving net-zero operation carbon emissions across their portfolios by 2030. Universities, such as Melbourne and Monash, are also leading the way.

But while a company can set targets, it is down to the individual facilities manager who runs the building to achieve them. 

Following the presentations, the Association premiered its short video on facilities management – watch here. Attendees then split into several breakout groups to discuss a range of issues.

As one attendee remarked, “If the bushfires and COVID-19 don't illustrate the need to act on climate change and reduce pollution, nothing will.”

The Association would like to thank GJK Facility Services and FSI (FM solutions) for sponsoring this successful event.

Have you or your organisation found an innovative way to improve environmental performance? Share your learnings and highlight your achievements by submitting a nomination for the Sustainability & Environmental Impact category in the 2020 FM Industry Awards.