VINCI Facilities Blog: Is climate change a dirty word?

CCN Blogs | 13 October 2022

Big issues demand bold policymaking. In turn, those decisions often require a change in behaviour from stakeholders. Climate change is one of these big-ticket items and the change required is divisive, difficult and demanding. Laurena O’Brien, Business Development Manager for VINCI Facilities asks, how do you engage people, so it is not thought of as a dirty word?

Change is not always easy. Faced with making a switch from a desk, a favourite chair or even a preferred holiday destination, we all take the decision to change with a degree of reluctance. When a change is combined with a radical adjustment, particularly how we physically and mentally conduct ourselves, the difficulty in accepting the need for a change is multiplied.

That is a hurdle faced by policymakers, politicians, and leaders daily. But at a micro level, in the day-to-day operations we pursue in FM, we see it too. Encouraging mobile engineers to use electric vehicles or seeking the permission of residents to improve their kitchens, bathrooms and make their homes energy efficient – it is met with resistance.

How do we combat that resistance and, whilst overcoming it, make sure we add in some social value at the same time? That is what we will discuss in a workshop we are sponsoring at the CCN Conference this November.

These examples we have picked out are linked to combatting climate change. Either in how we move around or how we heat, power and use our homes. They are also (fairly) simple, practical ways of decarbonising our work, or saving money and reducing energy use. So, why the difficulty? One reason is the concept is not explained clearly. To enable effective change to happen – at any level, anywhere and at any time – you need to have successfully engaged the people affected most by that adjustment.

Climate change is the biggest issue faced by any one of us. Its impact touches every aspect of our lives. Net Zero, whilst not always being defined consistently (another problem of communication), crosses every aspect of our built environment, transport, retail, healthcare and education. But the huge change required across society is not perceived as difficult to comprehend – it is seen as a threat. And a threat in all sorts of ways.

So, yes, to many parts of our society, climate change is regarded as a dirty word – simply because it requires meaningful change in our behaviours. All of us. From the top down and bottom up. It is hard to do, hard to fathom, hard to budget and frequently difficult to deliver.

Faced with actions required to mitigate climate change and achieve net-zero by a specific year set by that local authority, councils have put forward policies that could be perceived as expensive and divisive. Sometimes, when the public and businesses are obliged to alter their behaviours for no immediate benefit, pressure falls on council officials, leaders and their service providers

How do we combat that, and how can social value be defined and used as a tool to communicate the wider benefits that behavioural change can bring? Where to begin? That is the conversation we want to drive in the workshop we are sponsoring at the CCN Conference this November. None of it is easy and we do not pretend to have all the answers. But there are two starting points – transport and our homes. We need to decarbonise both. How we do that, and how we bring tenants, residents, citizens and businesses onside is what we want to discuss.

And we want to hear from you – what do you think? How do you engage your stakeholders and persuade them the change required is worth adopting? What are your experiences? Please contact us and we will use your stories to help inform the discussion.

Laurena O’Brien

Business Development Manager for VINCI Facilities