EMCOR UK’s vision for the newly opened FM Sustainability School

After months of preparation, the Facilities Management Sustainability School, an initiative which represents a common approach to develop sustainability competence in the facilities management supply chain, officially launched on 28 January 2015 at the Natural History Museum in London. Keith Chanter, CEO of EMCOR UK, the facilities management provider and partner in the School, explains why he sees this as a significant development.

Electing to become actively involved as a partner in the Facilities Management (FM) School, an element of the Supply Chain Sustainability School (a unique collaboration to develop sustainability competence in the supply chain; success has been unprecedented, with 24 partners and 7,000+ members participating to develop the capacity to deliver more sustainable construction and facility management solutions), was an easy decision for us to make at EMCOR UK and I am delighted that it has recently been launched to such a positive reception. The rationale for our involvement is simple – we are committed to establishing more efficient, productive and sustainable working environments for our customers, suppliers and ourselves. The School is intended to be a free resource available to any supplier in FM. We believe that it will help to achieve a more sustainable future and a more responsive FM industry which is good for all of us. We are therefore delighted to work on this together with our fellow partners in the School Leadership Group to help achieve this goal.”

We share the view of the School that sustainability is not just about environmental issues, and that a more "holistic" approach needs to be established within the industry. Therefore, we welcome the focus on developing the right values and code of ethics within a business as this is an approach we have found to be effective. At EMCOR UK this concept extends throughout our business from employee development, to health and safety, quality assurance, and productivity improvements throughout the supply chain.

What we particularly value about the School is the range of options it offers to its members, including free support in the form of e-learning modules, tailored self-assessments and action plans, sustainability training and networking opportunities.

We agree with, and fully support, the five goals of the Sustainability School’s Leadership Group:

- To drive greater sustainability knowledge and performance in the FM supply chain

- To inspire and persuade more FM suppliers to develop their sustainability knowledge

- To disseminate new sustainability learning materials

- To identify sources of funding to support the development of sustainability skills

- To share best sustainability practice to support the development of the School

Having worked for some of the most dynamic organisations in the public and private sectors, EMCOR UK is experienced in delivering sound environmental and energy management procedures to help make our customers’ and suppliers’ businesses more sustainable. A key catalyst in our development in this field was becoming the first FM company to achieve BS 8903 certification; the world's first standard for sustainable procurement. As part of the standard’s evaluation process we helped develop a sustainable supply chain charter, which includes details on the fair treatment and payment of suppliers and the use of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

We believe that in order to be a good corporate citizen and an ethical company we should continuously strive to become more sustainable in the workplace. This has been a core interest for EMCOR UK for many years, which is why we have focused on improving sustainability in our own supply chain – something with which the School will further assist us. We believe that supply chain engagement is central to the delivery of sustainable procurement, because by working together with other companies we can make a bigger impact. If suppliers are not on board with the detail of sustainable procurement and what it means, then it is impossible to get to the next stage.

Our commitment and the success of our approach can also be quantified in cold, hard performance figures. For example, with the help of our suppliers, we have already identified 9,000MWh potential energy savings for our customers through retrofitting projects this year. In another example, by initially investing £650,000 in energy saving measures one of our customers will be able to save £400,000 every year. In 2014 we successfully implemented a number of sustainability practices in our own offices, reducing energy usage by 19 per cent, water consumption by 45 per cent and diverting 96 per cent of our waste away from landfill. Nice sounding principles can and should deliver real business benefits.

In a further related development, we have grown our energy team significantly over the past year. As such, we are investing in deploying embedded energy managers in partnership with a number of our customers. We have also developed a number of comprehensive learning and development programmes and innovative, interactive training schemes in order to support employees of our suppliers, customers and from EMCOR UK throughout their careers. We have set ourselves the ambitious target of further training 75 of our senior managers in sustainability with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership by March 2015. This will help us to continue to build a common understanding of sustainability across the company, and support the delivery of EMCOR UK’s corporate responsibility programme.

Furthermore, we have worked through the sustainability standard with Action Sustainability, an organisation helping to lead the drive for sustainable procurement management and bring the School to life. By working closely with the School we hope to take the results of all this hard work to the next level.

EMCOR UK’s vision, as a partner of the School, is that this will be the go-to sustainability resource for all of our preferred suppliers and customers over the next few years. We are pleased that the School already has more than 7,000 members across all disciplines in the built environment, and together with the other partners we will actively support the School to significantly increase its membership by 2020. We truly believe the School will assist us to continue to provide world class FM services to our customers in both the public and private sectors, and benefit the industry as a whole.