Sustainability 101 – A Facility Manager’s General Perspective: Part 1

Sustainability 101 – A Facility Manager’s General Perspective: Part 1

By: Gary K. Pino, FMP, SFP As you may or may not be aware, IDO Incorporated was the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified building in the city of Indianapolis and the fifth in the state of Indiana, to earn this prestigious honor and plaque, marking a quality and achievement in promoting, maintaining and sustaining green building efforts. Needless to say, the topic of “SUSTAINABILITY” is near and dear to the hearts of our team of Interior Design Associates.  But it doesn’t stop there, as sustainability is just as important to me, an old Facility Manager, as it is with the Designers.  With that said, I would just like to scratch the surface about the subject of sustainability from an FM’s perspective.  But before I jump right into it, I think it’s most important to provide a definition so as to lay a credible foundation to get this blog underway …   The World Commission on Environment and Development (aka – the Bruntland Commission), succinctly defines sustainability as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”   As one of my old college professors would say, “Please expand upon that, Mr. Pino …  what does that really mean to you?”   In this day and age, participating in the practice of sustainability is a requirement as opposed to being a ‘nice to do’ or a choice.  According to the International Facility Management Association’s – Sustainability Facility Professional Credential Program, “An organization today is judged not just on the basis of the quality of the goods and services it produces but also on the care it shows people (both inside & outside the organization) and the environment.”   Back in the day, the main responsibilities of a Facility Manager were to simply focus on cost effective ways to manage and provide safe facilities for their occupants … and also keep the A/C and Heat at just right temperature for everyone.  Fast forward to today, and we have a new philosophical and moral approach that focuses on creating, preserving harmony and providing a balance between the social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainability – also known as the Triple Bottom Line (TBL).   To better understand the TBL, the Venn Diagram image clearly illustrates how the three (3) key components of sustainability logically relate to each other.


What do the Bearable, Equitable, Viable and Sustainable spots illustrate?

  • Bearable is the balance between the social and the environmental aspects of the TBL.
  • Equitable is the balance between the social and economic aspects of the TBL.
  • Viable is the balance between the economic and environmental aspects of the TBL.
  • Sustainable is the “sweet spot” where the three (3) aspects of the Sustainability centrally and logistically intersect

In addition, each aspect of Sustainability contains valuable characteristics which individuals and organizations must blend harmoniously together for the pursuit of a common good:   Social Sustainability

  • Socially necessary, needed, wanted and required
  • Culturally suitable, satisfactory, adequate and tolerable
  • Psychologically developing, maturing and promoting

  Environmental Sustainability

  • Environmentally vigorous, healthy and sound
  • Generationally subtle, delicate and refined
  • Capable of gaining ongoing – unlimited knowledge

Economic Sustainability

  • Financially maintainable, bearable and supportable
  • Technologically possible, viable and valid
  • Operationally feasible, practical and worthwhile

From a Facility Manager’s perspective, and as elementary as this may sound, when the social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainability are fully engaged, blended and maximized altogether, one will ultimately arrive at the core of a successfully integrated sustainable organization.   Therefore, one of the most important areas of concern for a Facility Manager is to embrace and involve social, environmental and economic influences and effects in practically every choice & end result one has to make.  When this action is positively taken, the Facility Manager possesses a true understanding of how to support the TBL.  From this point on, the Facility Manager may initiate practical choices relating to expenses, capital and operational spending that in the end – takes into consideration the lifecycle of equipment and services. At the end of the day, this activity places a Facility Manager in a unique position to fully influence both the efficiency and profitability of an operation.   To be continued … Stay tuned for Part 2 – which will cover the benefits of sustainability practices and the eight (8) major categories of sustainability.

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