Author: Richard Močko
“A new type of thinking is essential, if mankind is to survive and move towards higher levels.” -- Albert Einstein
This article had been written with the intention to stimulate the analytical and critical thinking of others. It is meant for those who are not afraid to question an official narrative and are capable of their own conclusions.
Sustainability is the greatest concept one can experience in life. It is present in any human activity. To find a connection with Facility Management is very easy, as its main three perspectives (environmental, social and economic) are often covered in organizations by a Facility Manager, at least in a sense of enabling organizations to function in their main activity and provide its vital support functions.
There is no factory, hospital, school, airport, office building, shopping mall, museum, which is not at least partially dependent on Facility Management. The connection and management of utilities, energy management, quality of air and its humidity, proper temperature, the right light intensity and quality of lighting, pleasant and inviting interior design, selection of furniture, maintenance of built environment, space and workplace management, waste and environmental management, health & safety, fire protection, security and safety and over all well-being in the working environment, are just few examples.
We spend about 20 hours a day in the built environment, whether it is home, work, travel, education, shopping, recreation, etc., and therefore the quality of the built environment has a dramatic effect to our well-being and happiness.
Few more important facts to consider:
- Cities take up 0.5 % of world’s space but they need 75% of its resources
- 80 % of the population already lives in the cities
- As human beings we represent 1 % of earth’s biomass and consume 24 % of it
Environmental, Social and Economic Perspective of Sustainability and the Facility Management Contribution.
- Environmental Perspective and FM
There are thousands of researches about the CO2 impact to our world. Since at least 30 % of greenhouse gas emissions come from the buildings (heating, cooling, lighting), we as Facility Managers have a lot to influence. Or it so appears.
In 2011, McCormick and Scruton from Yale University put together the Atlas of pollution – the world in carbon dioxide emissions, showing the tendencies of the countries about the lowering or increasing its emissions.
Surely, the countries with larger populations and higher level of industrial development are disadvantaged, because their “negative” impact is higher. We need to look deeper into the issue and we shall realize that China and the USA are 2 largest perpetrators, while the USA did not even care for Kyoto Protocol’s ratification, as the last country in the world, thus creating double standards for their corporations.
We are so concentrated about our carbon footprint that we forget the danger of methane (about 30 times more potent than CO2 and major contributor to the greenhouse effect, together with the water vapour) being released into the atmosphere. Another example of turning the blind eye, is the poisoning of the water and the soil through the hydraulic fractioning (apparently a new energy saviour), where we push over 100 chemical elements (often carcinogenic) with the high pressured water under the soil. The official narrative of our governments with large natural gas and oil companies is to assure us, it is a safe technology. However, there are at least two major risks, which are not successfully protecting the environment from the toxins released into the soil, as well as the aquifer: 1. Toxins from the actual hydraulic fractioning process, and 2. Toxins released through the unintended cracks in the gas well casing, as the old wells are almost never conserved properly.
The big oil and gas investors are providing the funds for prestigious universities to alarm the masses about the climate change, to create a feeling of urgency. Another aspect is the divesting of big oil companies from the oil and investing into the renewable energies. This is precisely the phenomena what we experienced in Eastern Europe in the 90-ties, where mafia bosses where positioning themselves, as respectable businessmen.
We went from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”, based on pseudoscience fixed research results. The strategy has changed, after the weather decided not to collaborate and for last 20 years, we have increasing amounts of CO2 in atmosphere, but decreasing temperature, so the Earth is actually slightly cooling, thus the original “scientific hypothesis” sort of shatters to pieces.
Hundreds of millions are invested in the development of fake reality and researchers are paid to create it. Just follow the funding and ask “qui bono?”, in order to see it through. According to the James Corbett, examples are many:
- CRU – Climate Research Unit – paid by BP for their artic marginal seas research
- Sierra Club obtained funds from natural gas industry, mainly from Chesapeake Energy, heavily involved in hydraulic fractioning
- Delhi Sustainable Research Development is taking money from BP, Shell, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited from India, and Rockefeller Foundation
- Berkeley Service Temperature team obtained its funds from Koch Brothers Foundation and Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation
- 350.org – paid by Rockefellers Brother Fund
- UCS - Union of Concerned Scientists, takes money from Chevron Corporation, BP Amoco and Phillip Morris
- Climate Institute is supported by Rockefeller Foundation, American Gas Foundation, BP, PG & E Corporation (natural gas and electricity), Shell Foundation
- WWF – World Wildlife Foundation is backed up by BP, Shell Foundation and Royal Dutch Family
- Stanford University is expecting to receive 100 Million Dollars over ten years from Exxon Mobile to support climate and energy research
- Princeton University obtained 20 million dollars from BP on their climate research program
- Several environmental groups are also being paid for the right gospel by BP; these include WWF, Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute, Wildlife Habitat Council, etc.
- The actual U.S. Government provided over 79 billion dollars since 1989 on various policies related to climate change, science and technology research, foreign aid and tax brakes.
The list is certainly much longer and this is only the peak of the iceberg.
One could ask what this has to do with Facility Management. Well, we are sort of responsible for the selection of the installations, using often a combination of energy sources, during the concept and design stages of the projects, especially for cooling and heating, and it is always helpful to know where the energy comes from. Facility Managers are also the trend setters – example: CO2 is available technology and it is appreciated technology in refrigeration. CO2 can help to get ammonia out of production areas and be a viable substitute for potent greenhouse gases, often used in the industry.
What most people do not realise is that CO2 is as important, as O2 or oxygen for sustaining our lives. After all, CO2 is the food for all the plants at this Earth and such; it is a life-line gas.
According to Jeremy Rifkin – “The real economy is the photosynthesis, which is a bottom line for entire ecology.” Without ecology, there is no life on the planet. As professor Peter Stanek calls it: “Dynamic equilibrium between the society and environment is a principal base for the function of the world”. One could think that it is about the time to forget about the economic models for the society, which will be manipulated by the large financial speculators anyway and start to concentrate on thinks, which really matter.
Perhaps it is the massive deforestation, as according to National Geographic we lose 80,000 square kilometres per year of forest (size of Panama). Besides the loss of habitat for many animals and plants, erosion of the earth, the biggest issue - Absorption of the greenhouse gases is being compromised!
Maybe we could all follow the example of Bhutan, the first carbon negative country in the world, with little modesty and less consumption. Instead, we are extremely big consumers of energy. And we do not care from what sources the energy comes from. The nuclear energy seems to be “clean”, but only to the moment something unpredictable happens. The risks are simply too high, as we could learn from the experience from Chernobyl and Fukushima. And we still did not solve the issue with the nuclear waste. Our current solution is to bury it under the ground, better in third world countries or in the countries, which have lots of unoccupied land.
If you want to visit the moon, you just go to open pit coal mines in Most, Czech Republic, West Virginia or some parts of the UK.
Major oil spills in Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexican Gulf are somehow not of our concern, as long we have a fuel for our cars. In Nigeria alone there were over 5,000 oil spills in last 50 years and the local population does not benefit from the wealth of the nation. Not only oil spill, but gas flaring (wasting gas as a side product for oil exploitation), needs to stop, as it represents a major damage to crops and the toxic gases are being burnt only because the gas is hard and more expensive to store and transport. In addition, we are experiencing serious human right violations, as the court in Nigeria ruled to stop gas flaring, which is still ignored by Shell.
The hydraulic fractioning Impact:
- Non-tectonic earthquakes (Texas, Oklahoma)
- Flammable water (methane into atmosphere) and huge amount of waste water
- Health risks for population
People of Pungesti understood these risks and stood up to the agreement between Chevron and Romanian government based on “national interests”. For the benefits of few hundred new working places, thousand others would have to pay the price of losing their livelihood and the way of living, while facing health issues and the destruction of their community environment.
While, according to Stanford University:
- if 20 % of the wind potential has been harnessed it would cover world’s energy needs
- if we could capture 1/10 of 1 % of solar energy striking the Earth – we would have six times more energy than we currently consume
By now, there are probably very few sceptics about the benefits of renewable energies. Yes, there are some downfalls, like the renewables might still need a backup plan.
Some positive examples are brought to Romania by some leading developers, such Portland Trust, with their ground source heating pump system, which might generate up to 75 % of the energy necessary for operation of the business park. Each well is 100m deep and contains 4 tubes of water which circulates up and down each tube and then passes to the next set of tubes, in the next well. After traveling 3 kilometres through all the wells, the constant temperature of the earth heats or cools the water, depending on the season, to approximately 10 - 12 degrees. The warmed or cooled water is then used as a heating / cooling medium in the plant room, which results in much lower energy and gas required to reach the internal temperatures, set by the occupants. The main feature and benefit of this system is 30 - 40% savings in the costs of utilities – directly for the end-user’s benefit.
Another positive example is the development of Atenor Group, which implemented the photovoltaic panels directly in the south-west façade, thus obtaining additional “free” energy and savings, especially for the lightning.
As Jeremy Rifkin claims, renewables’ major advantage is the 0 marginal costs, meaning once the infrastructure had been built, the nature will provide the source of the energy, without the necessity to burn any fuel.
Environmental perspective – FM contribution
It is in this part of life where the FM offers the greatest benefits to the society in general.
- Energy Management, currently the End-user / final beneficiary is not perceived as a major contributor. All the tenants should have policies to “use less”, and not to insist to cap the service charge.
- Energy Independence – small power stations, the process already started in Germany represents the end of scarcity notion and the beginning of era, where people shall by no longer dependent on the energy giants and government regulations. In fact, it opens the possibility for a genuine altruism, where the surplus of the energy can be “given away” to the public system, schools and hospitals, which cannot effort major investments.
- Waste Management – it is about the time to start to waste less and to end our mindless consumerism behaviour, in the buildings as well at the personal level
- Proper design of the buildings is necessary with the FM consultant present in the design stage, as once the building is constructed there is very little the operator of the building could change, without the major investments
- Further development of the green spaces interior and exterior, which improve positively our state of minds (and not only because we want our building to score high on a BREEAM or LEED assessment)
- Proper space management – give people more space and not to crowd them in cubicles. This can be achieved by flexible workplace developments and combination of working and relaxation spaces.
- Energy Management and Sustainability has to become a part of commercial dashboard in Facility Management. Thus we shall assure the financial benefit will come as a consequence of our own actions.
- Development of responsible environmental and Health & Safety policies in every organization.
The impact of FM is well documented in Alexander, Price (2012) – organizations are essentially complex ecological systems with its interdependent social, environmental and physical lenses. Workplace, as a final product, materializes this through organization’s culture, workforce demographics and information technologies.
2. Social Perspective and FM
There are many challenges in the social perspective of sustainability.
We live in the world of massive inequality, where according to British Oxfam institution, in 2016 there is 62 individuals having the same wealth as 3.5 billion people (half of the planet). This inequality is growing, as just 2 year ago it was 85 individuals.
In a way, Oxfam’s results are consistent with the study from the Berkeley University, showing the positive increase of the income can be claimed only in 10 % of the society and significant, actually only in case of 1 %. On the contrary, 90 % of society consistently did not experience any major changes. The study is done up until 2008, the last major economic crises, where we all bailed out the irresponsible speculative investments. Most certainly, if we would have the further data up until 2016, the gap between extremely rich and extremely poor would again be growing.
According to the Bank of England, the real wages in the UK in 2014/2015 were at the historical minimum for the last 150 years, in the comparison with the living expenses. As a consequence, there is major tendency in Facility Management in the UK to provide not only “minimal wage”, but rather “living wage”. This tendency is supported by services providers and as well the buyers of services in FM, thus obtaining better performance from the people. This condition is implemented within FM service contracts./
Germany, the engine of the Europe, also shows the signs of growing inequality and poverty. Conform Deutsche Bundesbank data, over 3 million workers in Germany live under the poverty line, calculated in 2015 as 890 Euro / single household or 1,870 Euro / family of four. The Eastern Europe still shows the signs of growth and because of the relatively cheap labour; it is still a magnet for investors.
Another important social factor is the technological unemployment, as in the developed society the robots should replace only dangerous or monotonous labour. People still need to have the purpose to serve and the right for a decent place to earn the living. Unfortunately, in many industries people are losing their positions to the “technological improvements”. There is another question rising from this tendency: “How the people should be covering the expected consumption and consequent growth, if they will be unemployed?”
Social perspective – FM contribution
The basic definition of FM is that it is a management discipline, which manages for the organizations “people, processes, places and technology”. We must assure that the people are in this equitation first.
Other aspects necessary for the positive development of social factors within any organization, covered by the Facility Management are:
- Assurance of the living wages and not just the government calculation of a minimal wage
- Optimization within FM services can be obtained with further education, multiskilling and multitasking, thus obtaining the synergies between the individual services
- We need to pay more attention to the well-being of our colleagues and the final beneficiaries of FM services
- Improved performance at workplaces, by the balanced design and assurance of implementation of relaxation spaces
- Flexible workplaces within the organizations, many functions can be also covered, at least partially from home, thus offering more balanced personal - professional life
- Job stability and advancement , supported by long term FM service contracts
- As industry, we need to say absolute NO to the 0 hours employment contracts, which statistically shows employment (so the government is happy), but at the same time nobody guarantees the certainty of income, not even comparable with the part-time employment status
3. Economic Perspective and FM
We currently live in the value system disorder. Mindless consumerism, based on quick profit making, keeps us away from the real problems.
Example: PHOEBUS CARTEL(Osram, GE, Phillips) - in 1930’s agreed to manufacture bulbs which survived only 1,000 hours, instead of technology already existing for 25,000 hours life cycle, so people are forced to buy their products more often. Did it make economic sense? Absolutely! Are these kinds of strategies ethical and sustainable? Well, you can answer that on your own. If we want to better this world, it will have to look like more the world from 60-ties and 70-ties, where all the products were engineered to the maximum life expectancy. The principle of circular economy thus had been respected to the maximum extend.
Instead, we have currently everything designed to be broken the second day right after the product’s warranty expires. Yes, it is a little bit exaggerated, but all of us have our own experience. Direct marketing completes the picture for our “wants” rather than needs./
In addition, the liquid companies, according to Prof. Peter Stanek (Slovakian Academy of Economic Sciences) are the cancer of today’s world, because of their behaviour:
1. Profit – is declared in the off shore countries
2. Expenses – are registered in the countries, where they are a part of deductible tax base
3. Dividends – are claimed in the countries, where is no tax for dividends
4. Investments – are executed in the countries with investment stimulation
5. Operations – are established in the countries with “creative” ecological laws
Therefore, we really must reconsider the “positive” impact of large multinationals to the quality of our lives, even if they represents and ideal partner for our governments, creating “additional work opportunities”.
Let’s talk about “SMART technologies” and their economic benefit. Are they really acting in our interest? Aren’t they just a sales pitch for technology giants & governments? According to the IBM declaration, by 2030 there will be up to 100 trillion sensors, connecting everything with everyone, also known as IoT (internet of things). Jeremy Rifkin calls this as the “4th industrial revolution”, which will be blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Ultimately, the SMART cities (so popular these days), as the final product of this tendency, will lead from the control of everything to control of everybody! On the other words a dream concept for any totalitarian regime. According to IPC (Institute for Policy Studies) currently from the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; and only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).
So how do we define a success in the company, society or country? Is it only economic? Let’s compare the GDP (simplified representing Consumption + Investment + Government Spending + NET exports) vs. the GNH www.grossnationalhappiness.com in Bhutan. What should be the target of any society?
There is a necessity for the paradigm shift in the economic element of sustainability (currently, deregulated capitalism and public austerity) – TTIP (corporations vs. countries?) The absurdity of corporate courts mechanism would allow multinationals to sue governments over lost profits. TTIP for now did not go through, but we can soon expect another model to be generated with the same agenda behind.
If we do not do radical changes, the economy (as history has proven on many occasions) will be only an instrument for geopolitics. The Value Change Perspective should focus on what we all collectively value more than economic growth and corporate profit!
From the economic perspective Facility Management is a business enabler. As D. Waddell, the Chairman of Global FM says “FM is all about enablement; as a sector we enable people to work, we enable the economy, we enable technology, we enable social interaction”.
Economic perspective – FM contribution
- Increased productivity (based on well-being) Profit only as a consequence
- FM has the long term (preservation) focus – life cycle cost approach for the built environment
- LEEDS existing buildings, BREEAM in use, DGNB shall make green architecture more than certification and marketing tool and it is benchmarked against FM and environmental (under FM) company’s policies and procedures.
- Energy Management– optimization of costs (classical target of FM)
- Synergies (among several services / processes)
- Zero marginal costs for renewables – goods shall be made essentially almost for free.
As Facility Managers, as any human beings, we have obligations to look for the solutions, which will enhance financial and social sustainability, while not hurting further our common environment. The sustainability is best defined in the Brundtland Report: "Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Therefore we need to assure, that we simply do not repeat what we do not understand and is given to us, as an official narrative. In such ways, our minds may be enslaved and prepared for the changes we and our future generations will certainly not appreciate.
Basically, we are at war with ourselves and against the nature, financed by IMF, World Bank and the Wall Street. The Drama of dying world had been turned into a soap opera. We forgot that there is a major difference between the Nature 3,000,000 years of Earth vs. 10,000 years old human civilization.
We really need to take the alarming scientific conclusions with the grain of salt, as it is not just about the money, it’s about a much larger agenda, one first mapped out by the Club of Rome in their 1991 publication “The First Global Revolution”, which stated:
‘In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.’
The perfect technocratic dictatorship “in the name of saving the planet” is preparing carbon taxes, which will lead to carbon rationing (for all of us), which will lead to SMART cities, where others will control, what we can eat, how far we can travel, etc.
In addition, the French government in November 2016 has expressed its concerns about carbon taxes, as extremely difficult to implement and potentially unconstitutional, thus putting the Paris Agreement and the entire “Technocratic Control Grid” in a difficult position already, so there is a hope.
CO2 impact is really questionable, if you compare it with Methane, hydraulic fractioning, incidents of fossil fuels or nuclear power stations with their negative consequences, which re supported by the governments and big energy companies for the sake of “energy security”.
The proper answer is indeed within our reach, everybody’s reach. Responsible consumption of energy, looking for renewable energy sources, invest into renewables on the personal, community, city level (small power stations), lower our waste production and adjust our consuming behaviour (forget about the Black Friday!).
Perhaps Germany and Scandinavian countries with their thousands of small, independent power stations or almost 100 % generated energy from the wind, in case of Denmark can be the right direction for us. We shall not allow the newly fast growing green movement to become the new red.
However, the change to cleaner energy sources will take some time and will have to be done in a smooth transition, as example for heating, the natural gas is still the most viable and efficient solution. Some power backup solutions, like generators are still dependent on fossil fuels and so is the majority of the travel via sea, air or land.
We should always remember:
- Commons belong to all of us and there should be much fairer re-distribution of resourced to all of us
- We all should and could live more modestly and challenge our consumer patterns
- We need to start again to produce durable goods and services
- We are not too little or insignificant, we must act locally, at each individual level (one building, small portfolio, community, city, etc.) and do not wait for the UN and governments to take actions!
- We should strive for an energy Independence (decentralization of the grid), at the individual or community level - from fossil / through renewable / to free energy (Nicola Tesla)
- We should socialize, contribute to happiness of others, thus build an alternative system, which is not dependent only on the commercial success
- We should design buildings and places, we occupy, in symbiosis with the nature
- We must remain aware about the potential of green dictatorship and the “green-washing” (90 Trillion Dollars on Green infrastructure after Paris Climate Agreement seems to like another “excellent” business model)
- If we go deep enough to our hearts and minds, we certainly shall find the way how to contribute to development of FAIR, VIABLE & LIVEABLE WORLD FOR EVERYONE!
Do not be afraid to challenge the official narrative. Everybody can be a messenger of the truth and the manager of change. During the life cycle of the building, from the initial briefing stages, though design, construction, operation, and refurbishments, the economic, social and environmental impact of the Facility Manager is almost unquantifiable, and yet, that is his / her only and sustainable way. We can steer the necessary changes together, one step a time.
Used sources and Literature:
- Alexander Keith and Price Ilfryn: Managing Organizational Ecologies. Space, Management and Organization.Routledge New York/Oxon 2012
- Anderson Sarah and Cavanagh John: Top 200: The Rise of Global Corporate Power. Global Policy Forum, 2000
- Corbett James: The Corbett Report at www.corbettreport.com from 03.11.2015, NASA Admits Antarctica Gaining Land Ice (But good news is bad news to climate alarmists)
- Corbett James: The Corbett Report at www.corbettreport.com from 16.12.2016, Why would people lie about the climate change?
- Kharas Homi: The emerging middle class in developing countries. Working paper no. 285. OECD Development Centre, 2010
- Klein Naomi: This changes everything. Capitalism vs. the Climate. Simon & Schuster 2014
- McGlade Christophe and Ekins Paul: The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C, Nature 517, 187–190, 2015
- McCormick Mark an Scruton Paul (Yale University, 2011) http://e360.yale.edu/images/digest/carbon_web.pdf
- McLeish B, Berkowitz M and Joseph P: The Zeitgeist Movement. Realizing a New Train of Thought., Lexington 2014
- Rifkin Jeremy: Zero Marginal Cost Society. The internet of things. The collaborative commons and the eclipse of capitalism. 2014
- Rifkin Jeremy: Emphatic Civilization. The race to global consciousness in a world in crisis. Tarcher, 2009
- Rusbridger Alan: The biggest story of the world. The Guardian podcast, 12 episodes.
- Stanek Peter: Technologicky, spolocensky a prirodny zlom sucasnej spolocnosti. Architektura buducnosti. TV program - Spravy cez okno (The technologic, social and environmental break point of a current society. Architecture of the future. TV program – The news through the window)
- Townsend A.M.: “Smart Cities”. Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York/London 2014