5 mins with Sunil Shah

In Magenta’s latest ‘5 Minutes With…’ feature, the team sat down with Sunil Shah, director of Acclaro Advisory, the company behind Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI). In this blog, we hear about the company’s work in sustainability benchmarking, the future of the FM sector, and the SFMI 2019 Awards, which take place on 13th November.

Why did you form the SFMI?

There was no measure that existed for organisations to understand what their FM providers were actually capable of delivering. The SFMI was effectively set up to shine the light on anything impressive happening within these companies, to promote it, and to demonstrate the value in these services. It was also established to provide a wider sense of understanding and context, helping to assess, educate and advise business in and around the FM sector. We offer the UK’s only sustainability benchmark in FM, and work with stakeholders to raise and embed new standards in the industry.

What important changes to the FM sector has the index captured since its launch?

There has been an enormous change recently, predominantly around new regulations, wages and better care. The predominant areas of focus for businesses, particularly within the FM sphere, are corporate social responsibility and sustainability, such as reducing single use plastics and carbon emissions. Through our work, we are able to reflect on recent years and pull apart how the journey has progressed, often in direct correlation with new regulations and legislation, which provides insight on how business strategies have evolved.

We work with business managers and the C-Suite to identify areas of concern, as well as areas of praise, to help them adapt to the needs of the industry. We’ve worked with a lot of companies so far to help to change their corporate structure, too, and one of the fundamental changes we’ve seen is a willingness to develop.

Do you think FM companies are taking the latest hot-button topics like plastics and social value seriously?

We are hearing the dialogue shift from “What can we do to reduce plastic where we can?’ to “We should be removing plastic altogether”. This is only happening, however, because the leaders at the top table are beginning to have these conversations. If several hundred people in one office see leaders using reusable metal bottles and banning plastic cups, they are likely to follow suit.

It’s easy to jump on the band wagon, take your pictures and shove it in the marketing plan. But we’ve spotted a departure from this approach, thankfully, and are now able sit down with organisations, identify their challenges and formulate a plan. Words will always come before actions, but as long as the ultimate end goal and result is positive change, that’s a good day for us.

What do you predict the next big push in sustainable business will come from?

There’s movement in multiple areas. Technology is taking over. Automation, AI, data analytics – it’s a very exciting time. Companies are waking up to their impact on the planet and it’s a very rewarding to be involved in it. There is a real focus on carbon emissions, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that gains the same traction as plastic reduction has over the next 12 months.

Thinking further afield, I genuinely believe the UK will be seen as a leader in environmental awareness. And a lot of the onus will fall on the facilities management industry to help make our buildings greener, smarter and more efficient.

The SFMI 2019 Awards take place at Aldgate House, London, on 13th November. To register or find more information on the event, please click here.

Simon Iatrou