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Facility Management

Sustainability challenges for the coming century


How sustainability will pose challenges for the FM and services industry in 2020.

It can hardly come as a surprise that global warming will be one of the main sustainability challenges for the coming century. And with it come sustainability challenges that include energy usage, materials usage, water and waste management, and indoor ecology.

In order to meet environmental and scarcity challenges, societies around the world may be forced to restructure their economies and infrastructure. This also entails becoming more energy- and carbon-efficient in relation to building constructions, operations, management and disassembly.

Sustainability consequences for the FM industry

Sustainability challenges will have a number of consequences for the FM and services industry in the coming decade, affecting supply and value chains as well as building design, management and maintenance.


1. Rethinking buildings, constructions and new partnering opportunities


To become more energy- and carbon-efficient individuals will also have to change their diets, travel and work habits. Buildings throughout the world will have to be completely renovated, as buildings and corresponding infrastructure are responsible for as much as 40% of energy usage. Therefore, systemic building design will become more important. This could lead to a merging of the value chain between building design and maintenance, creating new business models and partnering opportunities. Building designers will seek to improve building designs and inputs to their models by analysing how people actually move through and use workspaces.



2. The urban influence and regional conditions/challenges


The challenge will be even greater in middle- and low-income countries, where urbanisation trends are strongest. In China, housing and workplaces will have to be created for more than 300m urban migrants. The critical challenge will be to create energy, water and waste- efficient structures as cheaply and quickly as possible. Chinese authorities are implementing alternative building codes to deal with the challenge. For example, Beijing and Shanghai have banned the autonomous building of housing to prevent the development of urban sprawl.

Therefore, the impact of sustainability challenges will impact the FM and services industry according to regional conditions and challenges. Global warming will have different regional impacts, with African and Asian economies bearing the brunt of the impacts according to currently available information. The quality of construction tends to be higher in mature markets than in emerging markets. Many buildings in Asia are built with life expectancies ranging from 10 to 15 years, compared to upwards of 30 years in more mature markets, according to Stephen Ballesty.

Keith Futcher opined that sustainability challenge impacts will depend on governments and the economic approaches they take towards energy, water and waste management. Some countries – if they choose to follow the Scandinavian example – could impose high costs on energy usage to achieve greater efficiencies with a local economy.


What do you think: do you feel sustainability posing a challenge for the FM and services industry in the near future, or even now? Share your comments below!

This blog post is based on the ISS 2020 Vision whitebook.