Sustainability in facilities management (FM) with the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)

Start Date: 10 June 2010
End Date: 09 June 2011
Project Status: Current


Research and practice of sustainable facilities management (FM) is rapidly evolving with the increasing interest in the discourse of sustainable development. FM is one of the fastest growing professions in the UK. The UK FM market is worth £106.3 billion with an anticipated annual growth
of between 2% and 3% up to the year 2012. The industry and its market are forecasted to develop to include non-core functions and activities traditionally not associated with this profession, but which are increasingly being addressed by FM. The scale of growth in the built environment and the consequential growth of the FM sector is anticipated to be enormous. With the pressing sustainability agenda, the impact of the built environment, including the contribution that the construction industry makes, is vast.

The concept of sustainable FM has developed in parallel with the overarching concept of sustainable development and the growing appreciation of the scale of predicted climate change. The case for change has been successfully made and the need to balance the three strands of sustainable development - social, economic and environmental - is apparent. It is both fortuitous and timely that the FM profession has grasped the agenda for change and is developing practical sustainability goals within this rapidly evolving profession. Facilities managers are at the forefront of organisational behavioural change and in a position to influence the behaviour of individuals working in business, government departments and public services within the facilities they manage. Governments at both national and international level are using regulation to reduce carbon emissions and manage demand. Much of the burden of regulation will need to be picked up by facilities managers at every level.

The need for sustainable FM, and for skilled facilities managers to carry out this function, is therefore growing and the need to develop new ways of working to meet sustainability criteria is of increasing importance. Currently, there are no tools or guidance information available for the FM community. Although there are many guidance documents provided by public bodies on sustainability issues, very little of this information is being used to improve operations due to conflicting information and information overload.

This project will develop and update information on sustainable FM so that it will be applicable by those who influence the management and performance of the existing building stock.

This will be achieved through the following activities:

  • Investigate trends in the research and practice of sustainable FM
  • Providing a centralised web-based knowledge portal for the FM community throughout the building lifecycle, highlighting existing tools and awareness in a way that is understandable and accessible to all levels of the industry (
  • Host a series of workshops and training sessions to engage the FM industry
  • Publication of a guide to support implementation of sustainable development

Team details:

Dr Abbas Elmualim

Dr Wisdom Kwawu

Research Associate

Industrial partners:

British Institute of Facilities Management

Development Planning Partnership LLP

Johnson Controls Incorporated

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