Updated: Jul 11, 2022
Reduce Costs and Lower Your Environmental Impact
Sourcing, Sustainability, and Real Estate
Sourcing, sustainability, and real estate are three terms often not associated with each other but one thing they do have in common is waste.
Organizations of all sizes and in all industries are under growing pressure to make commitments to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. The amount of waste we create, and the amount we can reduce, can create a big impact towards these goals.
But beware, the whole subject of waste is very broad with a variety of important areas to tackle from corporate best practices for onsite waste and procurement, to real estate planning and efficiencies, food sourcing and storage, healthy eating and portions, and facility systems usage and the overall effect on climate.
“Companies taking the leap and committing to waste reduction goals are finding that it’s not difficult to reduce food, energy, or water wastage by 25% or more.”
We applaud those who’ve already made these efforts and achieved these results but while these pioneers remain in the minority, the question then becomes, how can we build on this momentum to do even more? We need new mindsets to be successful in this endeavor.
Over time, planning of facilities for more space than we need, as well as processes and operations in kitchens, space usage and lack of efficiencies, mechanical, electrical, and water usage in our facilities planning have been designed to allow waste and even encourage it in the name of “good hospitality” or “building in slack.”
Astute managers (and designers) are realizing that they can reduce costs, improve efficiencies, achieve environmental responsibility goals, and even generate customer appreciation by reconsidering the resources they’re using, planning better going forward, and incorporating new best practices.
As experts in sustainability from food procurement, menu management, and facilities planning and design, we know that waste has many facets. Implementing new practices, getting buy-in from everyone involved, applying the right technology tools, and keeping processes from slipping backward requires focus, knowledge, and will. It also requires a strategy.
"An effective strategy requires a statement (including waste) that includes a process and understanding of all facets. We’ve repeatedly found that a multi-stakeholder approach - rather than a top-down list - provides a more holistic, longer-lasting, and sustainable approach."
Reducing waste should be a key part of any company's Sustainability Plan, whether your focus is principally on climate, real estate usage, biodiversity, or water conservation.
"Reducing waste makes sense from any perspective as often this can be a less complex puzzle to solve and show you a route to immediate cost savings too.”
Your plan should include key ways to reduce waste through your company's procurement and supply chain strategy, realistic real estate programming that allows for multi-use spaces, building systems that are synergistic, and food service spaces (and education) that supports healthy dining.
” Education is a key part of this entire conundrum. Only together, as we create momentum, we can share the science and the facts, and encourage our leaders, colleagues, stakeholders, our families, and through education and influence drive and build momentum for change.”
As we emerge from COVID and all the supply chain challenges it created, procurement managers are understandably hesitant to be lean for fear of not getting what they need when they need it.
But procurement should always be working closely with operations, and operators need to be more flexible than they have been in the past. No one, on either end of that partnership, should assume that what was true before remains the same today or into the future for that matter.
It’s no surprise to anyone in the business that food sourcing, receiving, and handling affect your facility planning and layout (and vice versa). As we plan for new demand rates with more people working from home and a new variety of expected programming, let’s not have our facilities dictate what we can serve, how much, and how much is wasted. Short of changing our facilities’ design altogether, many tweaks in service can support healthy eating, profitable operations, and ongoing customer satisfaction.
Operators and facilities managers can reduce waste by jointly reconsidering programming and planning real estate for all-day parts and blended uses. Flexibility allows for unused real estate that adds to a company’s carbon footprint, with its additional utilities and maintenance services that may not be needed.
"Into the future, especially in sectors such as corporate offices or bricks and mortar retail, real estate footprint requirements may well reduce, and some think significantly, therefore re-purposing this real estate rather than mothballing will be a more attractive opportunity for real estate owners."
When we have the opportunity again to plan new spaces or reimagine existing ones, there are so many new technologies and space planning ideas to reduce waste and costs!
Facilities and spaces with high utility usage such as kitchens, foodservice operations, landscaping, workspace areas, common/amenity areas, and meeting spaces can benefit from equipment that lowers a company’s environmental footprint and minimizes wasted resources. In addition, spaces that can be shared lowers the amount of real estate necessary.
"But let’s get back to the basics if we want to really make an impact. Things that we can all do every day - turn the lights off, the air conditioning when you don’t need it, separate your waste, don’t over-order, consume only what you need, recycle, and re-use.”
In addition to better planning of occupied spaces, better planning of receiving and loading docks to quickly receive and store food for less spoilage, as well as handle trash, compost, and recyclables efficiently and effectively, can yield great savings.
10 Tips to Make a Difference:
Commit to or improve your ESG goals and commitments
You will need to secure your leadership buy-in and support
Establish commitments beyond principles but investments too
Memorialize and communicate your commitment to all of your stakeholders
Create a clear plan and achievable steppingstones
Engage with your people (leadership, teams, suppliers, customers)
Include the simple things (we don’t need to overcomplicate this)
Measure your success factors
Share your results (and garner advocates, and evangelists)
Make an IMPACT and lead CHANGE
We hope this article helps you navigate through your journey and achieve your ESG goals. We know it's not easy, it's complicated, and for many confusing - that's why we created Sustainability Simplified© - to help organizations navigate the journey and make an impact - because doing the right thing is simply the right thing to do!
Sustainability, Supply Chain, Innovation
Helene York leads 4xi’s Sustainability Simplified practice supporting organizations on the intersect of procurement, sustainability, and ESG strategy. Helene was formerly with Compass Group, Google, and ISS Guckenheimer.
Melanie Corey-Ferrini, NCARB, FCSI
Architect, Design, Strategy & Innovation
Melanie Corey-Ferrini leads 4xi’s Design4Life practice focused on physical, environment, and experiential design centered around people, place, purpose, and the possibilities for the future of the human experience.
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