FM Leaders Should Act on Climate Change

Amid the disparate day-to-day challenges facing facility managers, the long term agenda increasingly revolves around the pressing need to transform buildings. Many forces are driving that transformation — developments in technology and behavior that are altering the way people use the built environment; efforts to improve human health, learning, and collaboration; the need for resilience, the subject of the cover story by our executive editor, Greg Zimmerman. (See page 16.)

Ultimately organizations will have to come to grips with all of those issues. But none them is as pressing a challenge to the way buildings are designed and operated as climate change.

The need for action by facility managers became even more urgent with the decision by President Trump to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Buildings are well-positioned to reduce carbon emissions. More energy-efficient building products, combined with best practices for design and operation, provide a wealth of cost-effective opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. And the actions taken to reduce energy use can have soft benefits that are high priorities for some organizations.

New tools are emerging for a more profound transformation of buildings. Consider all the new options for using data to improve building performance, particularly energy performance. And work on zero-energy buildings is setting the stage for the industry-wide use of that approach.

Winston Churchill famously observed that buildings shape people. Today, it’s fair to say that buildings shape the environment we all live in, for better or worse. Fortunately, facility managers don’t need to wait for the president to take action on climate change. The facility management leaders of tomorrow will be the ones who lead the transformation of buildings today.