Blog, Building Repair, Cleaning, Construction, Facilities Management, FF&E, Mechanical & Electrical (M&E)

What is an Environmental Policy and What Should it Include?

How an Environmental Policy (EP) can reduce a property organisation’s carbon footprint.


Reduce, reuse; recycle policies; incentives i.e. paper, waste segregation, light bulbs, batteries, printer cartridges, packaging etc.

There is no doubt that it is the responsibility of every organisation to reduce its impact on the environment and operate in a sustainable manner.

What is an Environmental Policy?

An environmental policy is a short statement that lays out your organisation’s attitude towards the environment. It should recognise that your organisation impacts upon the environment both through local operations and, more broadly, in terms of raw materials usage, energy usage and discharges.

But, more than just being a statement it should be a plan of action.

Make it SMART

An environmental policy should set realistic and achievable targets for improvement that are relevant to your company’s activities and practices. Like an organisations other goals make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).

Sustainable Waste

The three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: All key elements in sustainable waste.

RFM Group has undertaken significant work on the waste management aspect of our business and we thought we’d share what we have learnt.

It is important to work with suppliers to provide clients with increased recycling through the use of more localised recyclers and move further towards a low carbon solution.

Sustainability and the environment plays a major role in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies. A CSR’s purpose is to encourage organisations to conduct their activities in an ethical manner and work towards having a more positive impact on society through ensuring sustainable growth.

Environmental KPIs 

Environmental KPIs should be used to measure the carbon associated with the five key areas:

  1. Electricity use,
  2. Gas usage,
  3. Water consumption,
  4. Transport emissions and
  5. Waste creation.


Electricity and Gas Consumption

An organisation can target carbon savings in electricity and gas consumption through changes to their heating, cooling and lighting of their premises. In 2018 we reduced our own use by 30% against our previous footprint.

Big Change RFM Group Habinteg Van


Travel and Transport Emissions

In addition, it is recommended that management visits to sites are reviewed and measured using electronic auditing. Technology such as Teams, Skype, FaceTime etc., can reduce the number of miles and carbon used compared to previous years by contract managers.

Another example is procuring direct labour locally. This can reduce travel (and carbon usage) by employees.

Finally, look at the organisation’s fleet of vehicles. After carrying out a full review,  changing vehicles to less polluting models can significantly reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint.

Impact Management

RFM Group developed an impact management system to provide robust management reporting to monitor and report impact data on water, waste, transport and energy consumption across our UK offices. This system is also able to identify successes in our recycling programme and pinpoint areas for further improvement.

blue white and yellow balloons

Carbon Reduction Scheme (CRC) + Energy Efficiency Scheme

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (which began in 2010) is a UK Government initiative designed to force relatively high energy consumers to improve their energy consumption, instigate carbon management strategies and bring carbon to the boardroom agenda. Participating organisations have to monitor their emissions and purchase allowances for each tonne of CO2 they create. However, reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency will save money.

In order to promote developments in waste management, it is recommended that organisations implement a two-waste stream system. This consists of a recyclable and a residual stream (confidential waste) which incorporates the following:


  • Aluminium and Steel Cans (rinsed clean)
  • Plastic Bottles (rinsed clean)
  • Glass Bottles and Jars (rinsed clean)
  • Newspapers, Magazines, Cardboard, Packaging etc. Paper is further split into confidential and non-confidential waste.

Confidential paper waste should be shredded on-site to security level 4.

Recycle bin

SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property

We speak to businesses and organisations of all sizes every day who turn to RFM for advice about how to upgrade and adapt their properties. Download our Free guide to the SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property, and you can learn how the workspace has evolved, and understand how you can benefit from our Smart Thinking.

The 7 Key Areas of an Enviromental Policy

1. Reduction of Waste to Landfill

Organisations should adopt a proactive approach to waste management focusing on the waste hierarchy principles of avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycle and recover.

Through discussions with the client, design teams and subcontractors, opportunities for waste reduction should be reviewed against these principles to identify opportunities to improve waste management practice.

Key elements of a waste action plan are summarised below:

  • Increasing the diversion from landfill rate to above the current level of 90%
  • Preventing waste production where possible
  • Reporting accurately using the WRAP site waste management plan tool 
  • Achieving high standards in waste management

2. The purchase and responsible disposal of biodegradable products

Residual – Look to promote residual and recyclable bins per site. All kitchens contain the same bins with the addition of another container for glass bottles. WEE, Toner cartridges, batteries and other hazardous waste are collected by the cleaning team members and taken to the designated room to be recycled in the appropriate manner.

Changes – This waste management system enables organisations to maximise recycling and minimise landfill. Minimising the number of bins per site maximises the productivity rate of our cleaners therefore resulting in potential cost savings to our demised costs.

Targets – We propose to recycle/reuse 90% of all waste and send out a clear message to everyone that recycling is important and the way forward.

assorted box lot on brown wooden pallets

3. The purchase; use of energy-efficient products and vehicles

Continually review an organisations core and non-core item lists of goods and services to purchase energy-efficient products where possible

  • Develop categories for products and services based on sustainable principles.
  • Aim to give preference and promote products that can be made, used and recycled in an environmentally and socially responsible way, to clients and operatives.
  • Ensure that all supplier specifications include all appropriate sustainability criteria.
  • Ensure that sustainability criteria are used in the awarding of contracts
  • Work with existing and potential suppliers and subcontractors to investigate environmentally friendly products, services, processes and procedures.
  • Ensure that all suppliers and subcontractors environmental credentials are considered in supplier and subcontractor appraisal processes.
  • Ensure that locally based and niche suppliers are not discriminated against.
  • Share knowledge and experience with suppliers to help their organisation achieve environmental goals.
  • Consider the lifecycle costs when considering product suitability and contracts for subcontractors.
  • Give employees an awareness of the social and environmental effects of purchasing products and services.
  • Provide training to employees about our sustainable procurement processes and procedures.
  • Provide guidance to relevant members of staff to allow them to properly select sustainable products and services.

yellow and black heavy equipment

4. Reduction of noise pollution

Prevention – Where possible, consider an alternative work method, which does not use noisy equipment. Ensure the equipment selected is well maintained and sound attenuation equipment is fitted and working. Use the following best practice measures:

  • Turn plant and equipment off whilst not in use, so there is no idling.
  • Programme activities in environmentally sensitive areas to weekend and daytimes where possible.
  • Close plant engine doors whilst in use.
  • Maintain all plant equipment and service regularly to SFG20 – report any faults immediately, rectify if possible or order components.
  • Screen small plant where possible from residential windows (i.e. behind a site cabin) to break the line of sight between a receiver and the noise source.
  • Fit silencers to exhausts where possible.
  • Maintaining and regularly servicing all plant as required by the manufacturer.
  • Avoid shouting (and swearing) on site.
  • Contacting the supervisor regarding any items of plant, which are not running normally (i.e. engine appears to be louder than a similar item of plant, then the silencer may not be functioning properly if the engine is emitting smoke, contact the plant fitter for an inspection).
  • Reduce the need for noisy assembly practices by fabricating off-site
  • Arrange delivery times to suit the area – outside of school run times etc.
  • Use electrically powered plant rather than diesel or petrol.
  • Screen noisy plant and equipment and/or locate away from housing/schools etc.
  • Make sure plant is CE marked and is marked with the sound power level.


Work Environment – Where practicable, select equipment with low noise output. Alternatively, locate noisy equipment away from employees and surrounding properties. If suitable erect a barrier of sound absorbent material between the machines and receptors. In addition:

  • Use local noise attenuation fitted to equipment.
  • Erect signs and barriers to keep people out of noisy areas.
  • Arrange work methods to reduce exposure times to noise.
  • Conduct noise level monitoring.
RFM Chemical labels

5. Reduction in use of chemicals; responsible action taken in relation to the storage, disposal and chemical spills

As part of their health and safety policies, companies should have a detailed COSHH Procedure that clearly sets out their policy for meeting the requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. The procedures should detail how an organisation:

  • Purchases substances hazardous to health.
  • Assesses substances hazardous to health.
  • Issues and controls substances hazardous to health.
  • Disposes of substances hazardous to health.
  • Monitors corrective action
  • Carries out periodic reviews.


Ongoing Environmental Training

All operatives should be required to undertake:

  • Environment Overview – 3 hours.
  • Pollution Prevention and COSHH – 3 hours.

Reinforce environmental awareness ongoing through toolbox talks, attended by all members of the site team including subcontractors. Toolbox talk topics include:

  • waste segregation;
  • waste management;
  • water reduction measures;
  • water resource management;
  • environmental management; and
  • energy reduction

Packaging & Plastic – Materials are only to be unwrapped when they are required for use, and the waste packaging should then be immediately separated and stored to avoid double handling. Suppliers are to be encouraged to collect their own packaging for reuse and recycling.

Oils, Paints & Chemicals – Hazardous materials are carefully handled and disposed of. They are stored in a separate and secure storage area so that they cannot contaminate other wastes.

Excavation Spoil – To limit spoil creation, care is taken not to over dig the size of excavations, use non-dig techniques for pipe replacement and consider the use of soil stabilisers/recycled materials.

6. Reduction of emissions to air, water including odour

SFG 20 Statutory Compliance Guidance

To ensure that RFM is reducing their emissions, there are many Statutory Instruments, Regulations and Approved Codes of Practice that apply to the work undertaken within the service and maintenance industry. It should be noted that no piece of legislation stands alone as they all interact with each other. They stipulate minimum standards for safe working but also have absolute requirements with respect to particular areas of the legislation.

All persons involved with the operation and maintenance works will ensure they follow the guidance of SFG20 which has been produced to provide Engineers, Building Owners, Building Managers and Consultants with a maintenance specification covering the majority of equipment found in a typical commercial building.

SFG20 represents the maintenance practice in general terms and is anticipated that this standard will be used by maintenance engineers carrying out the maintenance, but also by managers as a means of checking that the work has been carried out.

It is also envisaged that Building Owners and Managers will start using the SFG20 Specification to identify the maintenance works required on individual buildings.

An organisation should be fully aware of the impact their daily business activities have on the environment. Reducing emissions by regular and correct maintenance as well as eliminating unnecessary travel should be key green objectives.

electric car charging

Technology, Travel and the Environment

To address the impact this has on the environment an organisation should be committed to the promotion of sustainable transport, minimising unnecessary travel and investing in innovative solutions and technologies such as a Fleet Management System, like Movolytics.

It is worthwhile developing a range of initiatives that are designed to reduce emissions by eliminating unnecessary travel such as:

  • Green Travel Days – are a companywide initiative to encourage office staff to reduce unnecessary journeys, encourage operatives to drive more economically and where possible use public transport or cycling as an alternative to the car.
  • Movolytics is an intelligent resource scheduling system used in conjunction with the latest handheld technology and trackers in vehicles to optimise travel routes to reduce travel time and miles. It promotes workforce optimisation and unnecessary travel by enabling our workforce to base themselves locally to their home, reducing the number of daily journeys and the time and distance to their scheduled repair.

7. Active reduction of fuel and energy usage over time.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint – For many property companies, the predominant contributor to carbon emissions is the operation of the vehicle fleet.

For example, the RFM Group reduced its fuel consumption by 36% in 2015, and another 21% in 2016. 53% of vehicles are less than four years old and have CO2 emissions of less than 159.5g/km, in 2018.

To reduce the emissions of fleet vehicles, fleet management software such can be used to help to identify the most efficient routes and times to enable the most environmentally friendly appointments when booking works orders and planning projects.

Tracking all vehicles in realtime, using a range of information including live location and vehicle status, journey statistics, and route maps enable optimal fleet management.

Data can be filtered by contract, by driver and by date range as required, and displayed in a variety of ways to assist analysis.

A key feature of many advanced systems is the calculation of a ‘Fleet Driving Style’ using:

  • Journey history
  • Speed-data
  • Acceleration/braking data, and
  • Engine idling data to score drivers out of 100; a score of above 70 suggests efficient driving.

Offices and site setups – site setups should incorporate enviro-cabins, which have been verified as reducing energy consumption by as much as 53%. Offices also should be fitted with energy-saving light bulbs, infrared motion sensors, A-rated electrical items, and low energy office equipment.

Video and telephone conferencing facilities: promote communication between remote sites without the need to travel, therefore significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

  • Combining meeting days: careful planning of meetings and diaries can help to minimise unnecessary travel
  • Eco-Office Campaign: encouraging employees to avoid unnecessary waste of energy, water, and materials such as paper etc
aerial photo of wind turbines near field environment

An ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY is just the beginning

An Environmental Policy is the foundation of building a green and responsible property organisation, but it is just the beginning. It is incumbent of every member to implement the policy, and look for efficiencies and new ways that we can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – it’s our environment!

Lightbulbs energy measure

Energy – If You Can’t Measure it, You Can’t Manage it!

Before you embark on a major project to reduce energy consumption, do you know where you currently use energy? That is the vital starting point, as RFM’s Client Services Director Mark Flanagan explains.

SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property

We speak to businesses and organisations of all sizes every day who turn to RFM for advice about how to upgrade and adapt their properties. Download our Free guide to the SMART WORKSPACE: The Future of Property, and you can learn how the workspace has evolved, and understand how you can benefit from our Smart Thinking.


Sign Up to our newsletter for all our latest news, views and insights.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.