Our work on Scope 3 stems from the belief that existing building carbon assessment frameworks currently ignore FM based emissions and should therefore be considered incomplete. We saw an opportunity to solve this issue and position FM as a key player in driving decarbonisation.
We realised that there is a genuine need to correctly calculate the carbon emissions for the built environment, due to the significant part they play in the UK’s total emissions.
Global FM revenue is predicted to hit $996 billion by 2026, which will further increase both the position and impact of the industry. If the scope is incomplete, then subsequent net-zero plans, verifications and claims will be incomplete or incorrect.
Net-zero carbon has become a business requirement driven not only by the global warming impacts and new regulations, also because customers and employees want action. Only a minority in the FM industry has seen net-zero as an opportunity to deliver greater value to clients. Many see it as a marketing tool.
To truly provide solutions to reach net zero, the industry must understand all the opportunities that it can impact, measure the impacts and then engage with their clients and say “We can reduce these. Let’s talk about how our contract encourages these reductions”. The typical FM contract is one of the key barriers to making reductions, so the SFMI is building the tools to help the industry overcome the challenge.
“As a leading company in our sector, we know we need to be more efficient and get our own operations to net zero. We can also make an even bigger impact by helping clients remove carbon from their existing estates and future buildings, both in terms of how they operate, and the materials used to build and maintain them.”James Wimpenny, Executive Director, Construction, BAM UK & Ireland 
Measurement of the Scope 3 categories is critical in understanding the impacts from the FM sector and the services provided, and is necessary to allow for decisions in procurement and operations to reduce these impacts.
This project is part of a wider vision where FM will position itself as a key partner in delivering zero-carbon solutions in the built environment. The FM industry needs to build a data set to understand what the true impacts of its emissions are for its customers. This can then be used to promote greenhouse gas (GHG) management in the operational stage of the building lifecycle, thereby promoting FM as a solution toward zero-carbon buildings in the future. The vision aims to create a measurement tool for the sector, develop FM service level emission factors based on real-life data for more accurate reporting, and build a sectoral decarbonisation pathway.
Positioning of FM as a sustainable solution provider and aligning FM with zero carbon agendas will have a number of benefits:
- FM needs to drive the conversation on the carbon impacts it can deliver and its decarbonisation journey, which will increase the value of FM services
- When specific services in contracts and their impacts are measured, we can innovate and deliver a decarbonisation journey
- Relationships will improve across the supply chain as the FM aligns with customer zero-carbon values that are now becoming business imperatives
This all feeds into The SFMI’s purpose to drive ESG leadership within the FM industry by delivering sustainable services that provide a positive benefit across the value chain.
“An FM’s carbon impact is larger than many will report. This is exacerbated by the explosion of net-zero targets that have been announced by providers. So, many FMs are actively or inadvertently ‘scoping out’ emissions from their inventories to make hitting an arbitrary net-zero target easier. By doing this the industry is not positioning itself as a solution to the problem we have of reducing GHG emissions.”Sunil Shah SFMI Director
We needed a framework to present a method for capturing the data required before its significance could be understood. We released the framework in partnership with BAM FM, in June 2022. This collaboration on a standardised approach will be crucial to giving clients of FM confidence in the carbon data FM provides as they continue their journey towards Net Zero.
Our 4 stage approach
When The SFMI first set out to deliver a research project on Scope 3 in 2021, we set out a series of objectives to be achieved through a 4-stage process:
Launch of a technical emissions report and push the use of the standard for FM.
Use the approach to build a carbon tool for the industry.
Sept 2022 to July 2023
Drive the uptake of the FM GHG Approach
Develop tool sophistication to deliver to the wider industry and outside UK
Sept 2023 to Early 2024
Build a globally recognised decarbonisation pathway for the FM industry.
How we are doing this
- Provide a framework as to how Scope 3 data for Facilities Management can be collected
- Collect Scope 3 data using the framework, upskill FM teams and updated the standard following real-world stress testing
- Use the data to analyse the significance of the current gap in the frameworks used to calculate emissions footprints of buildings
- Develop a carbon tool used to aggregate the carbon emission data
- Design and build a globally recognised decarbonisation pathway for the FM industry
Delivery of stage 1
Stage 1 of this project delivered against objective 1 and completed in June 2022. The culmination of this phase was the publication of the Scope 3 report – “Setting the foundations for net zero”.
This stage involved many partners, capturing FM providers, Corporates purchasing FM services, and professional institutes to provide a rounded an holistic view of the operational management within buildings.
This phase was primarily about understanding the industry, having discussions with businesses, and highlighting potential emissions category gaps that exist, before moving into the development of the standard.
First, we developed a set of rules for what an FM provider should be aiming to measure. These rules are designed to push FM providers on the boundary of their emissions and include a greater range of relevant Scope 3 emissions while helping them to identify the data needed to start the journey.
We then developed two methods of emissions calculations: top-down (company level) and bottom-up (contract level). Once put into practice, we hope that the following two key outcomes will be achieved:
- FM outsourced providers measure corporate greenhouse emissions in an industry comparable way, helping to compare industry net-zero targets
- FM providers and in-house FM teams identify the operational emissions that they can target within the scope of their work, helping to create bespoke, client-specific zero-carbon pathways
The next key stage is to collect the data.
Stage 2 Approach
The focus for Stage 2, which commenced in September 2022, will be on data collection at both a company (top-down) and contract (bottom-up) level.
This stage has 5 key objectives.
- Real life application and stress test the standard and update from feedback
- Upskill of FM teams and management of approach and data capture
- Capture data from FMs in a structured and consistent way to present data
- Develop a tool to capture and host data
- Understand from data the significance of the gap of FM data not currently reported via the CIC model/UKGBC Net-Zero Framework
We’ve set up a Project Board to ensure effective management of the project with the partners involved, comprising The SFMI, Tier 1 Partners (BAM FM, Skanska, Bouygues and Optima) together with the Professional Institutes of IWFM, RICS and IEMA. As a group the Board will be responsible for:
- Ensuring the project programme and objectives are being met
- Providing sufficient resources overall to meet the objectives
- Communicating the approach and achieved outcomes in a meaningful way to the FM sector overall and to the wider built environment sector
- Engagement as required with Tier 2 partners to capture knowledge
Find out how you can become part of the Scope 3 journey