Insights & news

FM: Leading a sustainable future


Afoke B. Bakpa
Environmental Sustainability Manager

As the custodians of the built environment, facilities management professionals have a crucial role in tackling climate change.

That’s not hyperbole. The built environment contributes 40% of the total global carbon emissions. Around 28 per cent of that comes from building operations and a further 11 per cent from building materials and construction – the latter often labelled embodied carbon.

This year’s World FM Day, with the theme ‘leading a sustainable future’, aims to recognise the vital work experts in the FM industry are doing to create more sustainable buildings through innovative impacts –

Taking charge
The person leading on sustainability for Integral is Afoke Bakpa, our environmental & sustainability manager. Afoke has nearly 15 years of sustainability experience in Africa and the UK, working across the telecoms, oil and gas, consultancy, public, and FM sectors. She heads Integral’s delivery on environmental and sustainability targets in the UK, responsible for a range of sustainable frameworks and implementing low carbon initiatives.

Afoke’s focus on the successful transition to net-zero carbon buildings, developing and implementing frameworks around waste management and sustainable procurement, integrating circular principles into operations, and monitoring and reporting scope 1-3 emissions (carbon cataloguing and benchmarking). She is also responsible for implementing and maintaining the Environmental Management System ISO 14001 standard.

Data, data, data
Since joining Integral, Afoke says one of the most significant achievements she has played a part in is tracking utility consumption across the company’s estate portfolio. It involved acquiring energy and gas data to identify buildings with high energy user intensity and propose solutions to meet the 2030 target of 45kWh/m2/year. When she joined Integral, this utility data was unavailable, so she worked closely with the facility managers and landlords to obtain the necessary information. She says it is an example of stakeholder engagement, a crucial skill for FM professionals with sustainability ambitions.

With this regular stream of data now available, Afoke and the global JLL team can monitor, measure, and manage energy usage and feed the metrics into the broader sustainability reports. These insights have helped Afoke determine Integral’s next steps, including decisions around retrofitting or renovating buildings and making changes to design systems across the portfolio, such as lighting, heating, and cooling.

This work is indicative of two critical areas of change. First, as Afoke explains, the tipping point is the growing pressure on owners and landlords to deliver more sustainable buildings for occupiers. “Companies are more cautious about office location and the building type,” she says. “Increasingly, they want to know what the landlord or building offers regarding sustainable innovation and renewable programs.”

As a result, companies will administer a site election guide outlining critical criteria a building must conform to before a lease agreement, such as:
– Landlord Net Zero Carbon commitment
– A minimum HVAC equipment efficiencies
– Boiler location outside tenant space to eliminate combustion of natural gas
– On-site use of renewable energy
– Waste Management practice
– Provision of EV charging ports

Afoke says that JLL Group’s site selection criteria heavily depend on the above and other critical sustainable building requirements, e.g. sustainability certification targets.

Secondly, the work that Afoke has done to monitor utility use demonstrates the increasingly important role of data in achieving net-zero carbon and other sustainability initiatives. Recent research by JLL on decarbonising found that 84 per cent of occupiers believe digital solutions will be critical in achieving sustainability goals, with 43 per cent in the process of expanding their data and benchmarking capabilities.

The need to upskill
Another critical aspect of Afoke’s job is the training she delivers for Integral staff. These physical and virtual training sessions have two key aims: to increase staff environmental awareness across the business, upskilling to have informed discussions with clients, and deliver on corporate sustainability targets.

In a recent pilot of a waste management initiative across three buildings, Integral trained several supervisors and facilities managers to become trainers themselves, so they could, in turn, train the key workers and other staff working in the building. “We wanted to equip them with the knowledge to help respond to inquiries and engage staff on office waste best practices,” Afoke explains. “It’s also about showing FM staff, especially those delivering services on the ground, that they can have a practical and proactive approach towards achieving a Net Zero Carbon future.

To that end, Integral has been delivering training and toolbox talks to its contract delivery managers, project managers, engineers, and key workers. “We must communicate the role they have to play within the business, the benefits of having an environmental management system, and why it makes sense for our company to be sustainability-driven.

FM has an incredible opportunity to shape, drive and ultimately lead a sustainable future. The skills, passion, and determination of people like Afoke will help the industry get there.

Read time: 4:11 min.

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