Environmental Stewardship And Sustainability (2)

Triple Bottom Line

What is the meaning of Triple Bottom Line?

Sustainability depends on finding and maintaining harmony between the built environment, the natural environment and the society. To create and preserve that harmony, organizations and individuals strive to achieve a balance between the SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL and ECONOMIC aspects of sustainability. An organization’s social bottom line is affected by how the facility impacts employees, suppliers and the community at large. Its environmental bottom line depends on its ability to avoid harming the environment and to preserve scarce resources for the future generations. The organization’s economic bottom line will benefit according to the value created by the organization after deducting the cost of all inputs. The activities of facility management touch on all three of the aspects of the Triple Bottom Line.

From a social perspective, the Triple Bottom Line focuses the Facility Manager’s attention on areas such as community involvement and the occupant wellbeing. This includes: practicing fair labour relations; creating a safe, comfortable and productive work environment for the people of the organization as well as monitoring all vendors for fair labour practices. From an environmental perspective, the Triple Bottom Line focuses Facility Managers on avoiding harm to the environment. This also translates into goals such as reducing waste, recycling and reusing, decreasing or eliminating hazardous waste etc. From the economic perspective, the Triple Bottom Line focuses Facility Managers on the value of sustainable actions to the organization’s economic wellbeing. This perspective commits the Facility Managers to ensure lower operating cost, deliver increased efficiency and deliver a high return on investment.


(1) Energy- Facility Managers are concerned about how energy is consumed by the building systems and occupants. They are further concerned about how energy is priced and purchased as well as how the facility can improve its energy performance.

(2) Water – Facility Managers are concerned about how the facility uses its water and how the facility can recycle and reuse Water

(3) Materials and Resources- This has to do with how the facility uses finite resources, manages recyclable materials and makes purchases.

(4) Workplace Management- Facility managers have to see how the space the facility has can be used more flexibly by creating workspaces that are productive. Equally, they must see how to decrease the facility’s (negative) negative impact on the environment.

(5) Indoor Environmental Quality- This is how the facility can contribute to occupant comfort. For instance, how does the indoor air equality affects workers? Also, how does the facility manage hazardous materials generated within?

(6) Quality of Services- Under quality of service, the Facility Manager should be concerned how the facility manages basic services such as internet, mails and documentation services as well as landscape and janitorial services etc.

(7) Waste- How every facility collects and disposes of waste is of paramount importance. Also, how the facility can reduce the amount of waste generated or better still create or use a recycling program is of the essence in sustainability.

(8) Site Impact- How does the facility manage rainwater (erosion) so that its impact on the environment is highly mitigated? Or how does the facility manage (reduce) light pollution?

All these are very salient areas for every facility manager to note in a drive towards environment sustainability.

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Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

The hallmark of this material is to help facility managers apply sustainable management practices to both the built and natural environments.

Secondly, it’s to ensure that sustainability is considered ALWAYS as a factor in every organization’s decision making as it affects the environment, the facilities we manage and its occupants. We may start of by considering the meaning of environmental sustainability.

What is environmental sustainability?

There are many definitions of this topic. However, the one most appealing to our discussion is by the World Commission on Environment and Development. The Commission defines sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the PRESENT without compromising the ability of FUTURE generations to meet their own needs”. Note the two key words – present and future! In other words, sustainable practices seek to accommodate human needs (for the present) without diminishing the productivity or health of future generations. Sustainability is to “live and let’s live”. Sustainability for organizations is more important today than it has ever been. The current historical period has been referred to as “the age of accountability”. Businesses used to have the luxury of deciding whether or not to participate in environmental sustainability practices. Today it’s no longer a choice but a requirement.

An organization today is judged not just on the basis of the quality of goods and services it produces but also on the care it shows to the people and environment. This has become an ethical and legal responsibility. Therefore, organizations must conduct their strategic activities in compliance with environmental laws and regulations.


 In leading any organization to sustainability, the Facility Manager can rely on five principles to shape the facility’s sustainable response. They are:

  1. Reduce consumption- Facility managers need to encourage a change in the behaviour and expectations of occupants and owners. It may also be necessary to change some operating processes and parameters like cycle time.
  1. Attention to detail – Paying attention to detail and looking at viable alternatives can help reduce waste and contribute to savings in every aspect.
  1. Reduce pollution- Organizations put out many forms of pollution such as air, water, noise and waste. And each of these can be reduced through different techniques.
  1. Always show good corporate citizenship – Corporate citizenship refers to organizational behaviour in relation to their environment. It involves considering impact on community when making decisions.
  1. Demonstrate ethical behaviour – Many organizations have an ethical policy that communicates the expected standards for management, staff and suppliers. This ethical policy should incorporate expectations about sustainable behaviour in regards to the environment and society.






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