An Introduction to sustainability for charity facilities managers

All parts of society are being encouraged to think about sustainability. Charities have a particular responsibility to ensure that they do no harm in the course of delivering their services.

A photo of the earth rising above the moon.

Astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission captured this "Earthrise". The image highlights the fragility of earth's ecosystem. (Photo: NASA)

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is not just about being "green" it is about focusing on the long-term social, economic and environmental dimensions of our activities.

To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support both present and future generations.

Sustainability has a wider dimension than corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, although the two are linked. CSR is a form of self-regulation involving organisatons holding themselves accountable to stakeholders.

Sustainability and facilities management

Charities can make a significant contribution by ensuring that their workplaces and facilities management contribute to their organisation's sustainability.

FMs can influence organisational policies, procurement and individual behaviours.

Key topics related to susainable working include:

  • Sustainable procurement
  • Energy use
  • Environmental management
  • Transport policies
  • Waste management

Many of these topics are covered in other pages on this site, for example, you can read more about ethical purchasing in our section on procurement. 

A useful starting point may be the Charity Commission report Going Green (pdf) which looks at charities and environmental responsibility.