Director and co-founder of FM Innovations Kristiana Greenwood has been elected as the first female chair of the Facilities Management Association of Australia.
Ms Greenwood said her appointment showed how the FM industry was changing as it meets increased expectations regarding efficient building performance.
While the industry employs over 200,000 people in Australia, currently only 36,000 or 18 per cent of them are female.
“Twenty years ago facilities managers were still found in a basement office, with a tool belt and an expectation that they will fix up any small jobs themselves,” Ms Greenwood said.
“The new profile of a facilities management professional is a very different one today as the industry starts to realise just how important FM is to health, safety, wellbeing and productivity of our built environment.
“A successful facilities manager is educated, organised and has excellent relationship skills, which is why females in our industry are rising through the ranks and making a significant impact.”
One of things she wants to achieve while chair is putting more focus on gender diversity, cultural equality and mentoring. The FMA board will also continue to build on initiatives around education, advocacy and leadership.
Ms Greenwood said 60 per cent of FMs in Australia were between the ages of 40-59, so there was a “large wave” of the younger generation coming through that must be assisted to reach their professional goals.
The association recently signed a partnership with the University of New England to roll out its facilities management diploma, and a scholarship program for young achievers in the industry is being considered.
“We are also talking to government about a “male champions of change” program and working with a professional mentoring company to ensure our programs are shaped for our industry and members,” Ms Greenwood said.
Sustainability was at the forefront of the association’s agenda, she said, as commercial buildings were responsible for almost 23 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions.
Retrofitting buildings is a key strategy to reduce energy use and local air pollution, she said, and also offers cost and comfort benefits. Having architects, engineers and building services contractors among FMA members, in addition to building operators, encourages all parties to collaborate and achieve the best operational outcomes.
“Facilities management is such a broad term and members stretch across many sectors including technology, design, engineering, operations, procurement, asset management and more.”
Ms Greenwood said the profile of FM was growing strongly, with independent research in the UK demonstrating that FM professionals can improve productivity in a building by up to 12 per cent, and other research showing they can improve a NABERS rating by up to 1.3 stars.
“Both of these translate to significant financial results.”
Some of the new tools that are emerging that help FMs improve building performance include FM management software systems, although these are currently only used by around 40 per cent of asset managers in Australia, she said.
“Technology is moving fast and in the UAE it is mandatory to have a BIM software if your building is over 10,000 square metres, a standard that could well reach Australian shores. Integration between BIM and FM operational systems is high on the FM agenda with many architects now moving to BIM modelling.”
Other initiatives emerging include the use of share services in the FM space, which helps reduce costs by providing an alternative to outsourcing, as well as analytics as a tool to analyse and report on an entire portfolio. There is also “fierce competition” in the energy efficiency space in terms of options available.
“There are a number of big challenges that face the industry,” Ms Greenwood said.
These include the use of data in tailoring service provision, the use of technology and automation in service delivery, the ongoing education and accreditation of professionals, and future workforce planning.
“The expectations of clients and other stakeholders continues to rise,” she said.
“The FM industry needs to up-skill to deliver on those expectations, so education and training for FM professionals is key.”