Greening Your Business


PEOPLE, PLANET, PROFIT - the triple bottom line!

The concept of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) being social equity, environment and economic factors, demands that a company’s responsibility lies with stakeholders rather than shareholders. This also indicates a commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS).

Indicators are:

  • There are more job opportunities to be created in the Green economy
  • By 2020, the Green economy could create around 400 000 new jobs
  • Opportunities need to be matched to an equally skilled workforce
  • Cutting carbon in the supply chain is the next critical stage and is a commercial opportunity.



  • Adapt positively to the sustainable business agenda
  • Manage resource productivity, reduce waste and include environmental reports
  • Make things happen ahead of their competitors.


The Paris Agreement of 5 October 2016 central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this Century below 2 degrees Celsius!

The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. So, notwithstanding President Trump's announcement of America's withdrawal, how will this affect your business?

Going green is no longer simply an individual choice, it is now an obligation faced by communities, businesses and governments - global warming is here to stay. As the public becomes more environmentally aware, there is a growing trend towards holding service providers, brands and businesses accountable. People are voting with their pockets and choosing to support businesses that have a transparent and effective green policy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, says Ann Baker-Keulemans, Communications & Marketing (Writer) at the South African Facilities Management Association (SAFMA).

In the Facilities Management industry, green Facilities Management (FM] processes and green buildings (Green Star rated by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA)) are key components of a business’ decision to go green. Simply put, a green building is a structure that takes into Consideration its effect on the environment, and that uses processes and systems designed to reduce the use of natural resources and reduce waste.


There are also other ways for a business to go green, without aiming For a Green Star. These include workplace educational drives, where employees and clients are educated on green initiatives such as recycling, waste reduction, renewable energy and water-saving techniques, and corporate CSR programmes. There are several challenges to greening your business. The most significant of these is cost. As a big-budget high-reward option, developing a new green building from the planning stage is the most effective and efficient solution. If you are looking to green an existing building, the costs can be more prohibitive. In this case you might need to engage an advisory service or consultant to help you decide how best to go green. Technology that enables and monitors green processes is vital, but has been expensive.

On the positive side, reduced water and energy usage and reduced waste production all save costs and, in the case of renewable energy sources and efficient recycling solutions, can even be an earning opportunity. An added benefit of greening business is the creation of jobs and the opportunities that arise for entrepreneurs, says Baker-Keulemans.


The GBCSA defines green building as that which incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and people. Green buildings are energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible, says Xolani Zuma, Managing Director: Lead Integrated Solutions SA & Rest of Africa at Servest.

In most instances though, the assumption is made that because a building is should be able to take care of itself with little or no FM involvement. The fact is, it will most likely not happen like that!


The reality is that green buildings should not only be designed and constructed in line with an organisations‘ green building rating goal at construction completion but these buildings must also be operated in a manner that sustains the green building rating throughout the life of the building.

Operation of green buildings in this manner is the largest contribution that the FM profession and its practitioners can bring to the sustainability and green building agenda. As the evolution towards green building initiatives continues to impact facility managers’ way of working, FM professionals need to learn how to operate buildings in a sustainable manner such that they are able to incorporate green building initiatives into their site operating procedures.


FM service providers and industry practitioners need to use Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as means of rationalising green building operational practices to be entrenched. TCO looks at costs of buildings and systems over the entire lifecycle, for example:

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Operation and maintenance
  • Replacement and recapitalisation.


It is the responsibility of facilities managers to take a long-term view towards sustainable green building practices. In order to meet the goals of sustainable green building rating, facilities management professionals need to achieve a balance between initial costs of buildings and the ROI in implementing sustainable green practices. And this balance will come from appreciation of lifecycle costs and total cost of ownership of the building(s).


The success of FM Service providers and managers in incorporating green building initiatives into their operation plans will depend on their ability to integrate green building practices into their organisation's overall strategy. To do this facilities managers need to develop their own green building strategy (aligned to the overall organisational strategy), translate their strategy into operational plans, train their teams on how to deploy and operationalise the facility green building strategy introduce and monitor KPIs. Planning for green building initiatives and sustaining green rated buildings takes appreciation of initial cost, lifecycle cost and total cost. When we understand the comparisons between conventional building construction and green building construction, we will realise the economic value of sustainable and green building practices.

In order to incorporate green building practices with an organisations objective of effective facility management, facilities managers must integrate these two goals into the organisations overall strategy. In that lies the role of FM in the Green Building Agenda, says Zuma.


As public awareness grows about the impact we humans are having on our environment, so opportunities are increasing for companies to take the road to sustainability. Business greening is a long-term programme aimed at steadily reducing a company’s environmental footprint - its usage of energy, water and material resources. Fortunately, increased efficiencies, innovations, productivity and reputation very often also occur as a consequence, says Hugh Tyrrell, Sustainable Business Consultant & Director of GreenEdge Communications. Sustainability consultants and coaches are useful guides along the way, while helping to empower management and staff in the process.


A strong commitment by leadership is first required to get started along the path, supported by management on the way, as this is a journey not a destination.

The process initially benchmarks how much energy, water and raw materials are currently being used and how waste is being dealt with throughout the business.

These measures will show where resource efficiency savings can be made and pinpoint areas for renewable energy and water-saving installations and investments. They will also enable metrics and targets to be set for reducing the company’s eco-footprint year by year, and for moving on in due course, to carbon neutrality.


The sustainability drive goes further than technical interventions, to also engage company staff and culture at a deeper level. It is useful to give the program a big picture name, such as Woolworths’ ‘Good Business Journey’, GE’s ‘Ecomagination' or M&S’s ‘Plan A’. This encourages greater participation and motivation by staff as they are now working for a higher purpose.

The consultant should also help establish a sustainability committee or green team who will be responsible for driving the process internally and reporting back on progress. This team includes line management as well as any and all ‘keen green’ voluntary champions who can act as ambassadors for other staff.


Marketing and communications people are also key for awareness and education, and to communicate successes as milestones are reached. HR would be involved with training, induction and helping manage organisational change for the new sustainability course the company is taking towards a resilient future.

Once the company is firmly on the path, the consultant's guiding role becomes more one of a mentor, as sustainability is embedded in the company's ongoing strategic objectives. The end goal is not business as usual but sustainable business as the new normal, says Tyrrell.


Global warming, extreme weather, food shortages, extinctions and new diseases are real. But, with surprisingly little effort, the business sector could be leaders in halting or lessening the climate crisis, says Lorraine Jenks, Specialist in climate change, sustainability & greening, and Founder CEO of Hotelstuff | Greenstuff.