Upstream - The Newsletter of Incentive FM Group

Sustainability

Corporate Social Responsibility is about an organisation behaving in such away that it is accountable for the impact of its activities on the wider society and the environment: it behaves as the 'good corporate citizen'. In practice, CSR covers a wide range of an organisation's activities, not just economic but areas such as; how it treats its people (human resources), its approach to environmental issues, sustainable development, waste management and health and safety issues.

There is a raft of legislation both UK and EU that governs these activities setting the absolute minimum standards. Complying with legislation is the corporate equivalent of 'just scraping through’. What marks out a good corporate citizen is the organisation that goes the extra mile; not out of compulsion but because it wants to make a difference. Making a difference needn't be about cost: we all know the current economic conditions are tough. A good CSR approach can be seen as an investment that will bear dividends.

The power of positive action to motivate staff must not be underestimated. Most of us want to 'do the right thing' and seeing your company doing the right thing gives a sense of belonging and makes the individual more disposed to the organisation they work with. Including the local community with outreach projects, sponsorship of local clubs or building community links helps both the community and the organisation in the long run.

Most CSR activities of our clients fall outside the touch points between Incentive and their organisation: we always try to include clients in our initiatives and activities where we can. One area where we feel we can directly contribute is in the field of corporate environmental impact in terms of energy use, carbon emissions and waste management. Many of the activities we undertake can impinge directly on these areas. We encourage everyone to have a sustainability policy and internal environmental champions as we do but beyond thatwe are looking to offer practical advice and to helpmake a difference.

In conjunction with a partner,Workplace Law who are specialists in environmental solutions for business, we have launched an initiative to offer customers environmental assessments. The assessment evaluates buildings against five core environmental issues: regulatory compliance, and four resource indicators:energy, carbon, waste and water.

The primary focus of the assessment is on the building plant, equipment, services and the responsible functions carried out by the facilities management staff of Incentive FM. The report sets out a baseline for improvement; helping to get to grips with the current situation and developing an action plan. The detailed plan makes recommendations that can have an impact that is immediate, has a twelve month or a twenty four month payback.

Recommendations include policies to raise awareness and actions such as; correctly setting thermostats and building management systems, compacting waste, fitting displacement devices in lavatory cisterns or replacing boilers. Before making the assessment available to all of our clients we undertook a pilot assessment. Our pilot client now has a starting point to improve from, has a detailed compliance report and costed management plan. Implementing all the changes that can have an impact within 24 months will see the client making annual savings of 16% against utility expenditure.

Doing the right thing in terms of CSR in this example is also doing the right thing in terms of bottom line: making a difference needn't break the bank.