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Thousands of FMs gather at WorldWorkplace 2009

28 October 2009

The annual WorldWorkplace event held this month in Florida’s Orange County showed some ‘green’ concerns but the USA needs to catch up on sustainability with leading countries elsewhere in the world.

The annual WorldWorkplace three-day event held from 7-9 October at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida attracted an estimated 3,800 attendees from nearly 35 countries. World Workplace 2009 marked IFMA’s 30th annual conference and although smaller than some in the past it nevertheless provided a focus for the FM community in the US and elesewhere.
Once again the exhibition space featured World Workplace Green Zone — an exclusive section of the expo hall reserved for exhibitors – and green themes in the conference’s educational sessions included strategies for greening the office, the impact of new legislation on sustainable building design, pandemic preparedness, sustainable building operations, commercial real estate purchase negotiation and more.
But how ‘green’ is the FM thinking across the Atlantic Ocean.   Mike Liddle, MD of Business & Facilities, and one of only a few Europeans to make the trip across the Atlantic – apart from Americans and Canadians, its was Nigeria that provided the third largest contingent by nationality – says they are still lagging the world on this.
He said “The World Workplace Green Zone, an exclusive section of the expo hall reserved for exhibitors offered environmentally friendly products and services, featured more than 75 exhibitors. However, despite this and by contrast to the focus of European governments and industry on sustainability and the forthcoming climate conference in Copenhagen, there was very little evidence of the mainstream US looking at Green issues. In my hotel all the lights were incandescent, and all external lighting was on all night including around the pool area. The temperature in the Conference centre was positively cold in comparison to the 35oC (95oF) in the Florida sun. My taxi to the airport (a Ford monster) consumed between 7.2 and 9.8 gallons per mile. I then looked around and most office building have lights burning all night long. My only short visit to a shopping Mall found the same with light on all day and all night. There is a lot of catching up to do, I think!”
Despite this Liddle enjoyed the three day event. He comments: “As ever, the IFMA machinery produced a very interesting and varied event with a high quality programme. This year the Expo timing was modified so that they did not conflict with the Educational sessions which worked very well allowing more networking opportunities. The opening key notes and separate ‘power speaker’ session allowed an insight into how thing can be done differently with better results.
The Welcome reception was held at part of Universal Studios which was closed off to the public for the evening. It was a great opportunity to meet old friends.”
He continued: “At IFMA’s annual Awards of Excellence banquet on Friday, Oct. 9, IFMA announced the winners of its prestigious Awards of Excellence, which recognize groups and individuals who have made significant contributions to the facility management profession and the association. All in all a very well organised event and I look forward to next year.”
Another high point – literally – was a guest appearance by former Harlem Globetrotter, Tommy Mitchell who is the father of IFMA chairman, Tom Mitchell, Jr. The basketball star signed autographs and posed for photos with attendees.
At the conference, the IFMA Foundation  http://www.ifmafoundation.org unveiled a new publication detailing how facility professionals can immediately cut operating costs, institute sustainable building practices and gain a voice in the strategic facility decisions made by their organisations. Entitled Cut it Out: Save for Today, Build for Tomorrow, an 11-chapter quick reference guide focused on efficiency, features authors from organizations such as Jones Lang LaSalle and SCAN Health Plan. It was produced in partnership with Steelcase, Johnson Diversey and other industry leading companies.
World Workplace 2010 is to be held Oct. 27-29 in Atlanta, Ga. For more information on World Workplace 2010 visit www.worldworkplace.org.


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