Conversations with an FM - Robert Houston 120 Collins Street

Change doesn't happen without people

Here at Method, we get the pleasure of working with Facility Managers of businesses big and small that are working hard to improve their facilities, their performance and sustainability. I think over the past year, in particular, we've learnt the importance of the unseen work that goes into making our facilities functional, safe, sustainable and enjoyable.

So for World FM Day 2021, we've interviewed Robert Houston, Senior Facilities Manager at 120 Collins Street in Melbourne for Investa. Check out the video below to see 120 Collins Street in all its glory, Melbourne’s pre-eminent office building and is one of the tallest office structures in Australia.

Can you please explain your role at Investa?

In my role at Investa as a Senior Facilities Manager at 120 Collins Street in Melbourne I have the privilege of leading the FM team in managing and facilitating services and operations to a premium standard that ensures occupants can enjoy their office accommodation at this iconic asset.

Engagement Robert (Centre) speaking to the team about the new waste scales being implemented.

What are your core focuses in 2021 - 2022?

My core points over the next 12 months at 120 Collins Street include:

  • The ground floor re-development – an exciting project which will further enhance the building and its amenity for both occupants and visitors alike
  • Improving the sustainability aspects of Major Works
  • Refining and optimising the performance of the building including NABERs, Clean and Green and WELL principles – which we have recently embraced

What is the most satisfying/ enjoyable part of your role?

The most satisfying part of my role is empowering my team, our contractors, and our occupants to consider and harness new concepts and sustainable practices in a holistic and impactful manner – to achieve results. Buildings are places for people and for me, good buildings are a result of good people management and leadership practices.

What role do you think sustainability plays in the role of a Facility Manager?

Sustainability is aligned to just about every facet of Facilities Management from Waste Management, Energy and Water Efficiency through to the procurement of goods and services.

Sustainability is essential and the key driver of many Facilities Managers and building owners.

Buildings are places for people and for me, good buildings are a result of good people management and leadership practices.

How do you think this is going to change over the next 5 - 10 years?

I believe data collection, analysis and reporting will play an ever-increasing role in how we manage our buildings into the future. This is something that Investa is enthusiastically exploring as we test the viability and value that can be generated through increased insights, next-generation BIM technology, AI and machine learning. This is a really exciting time for our industry and something that has the possibility to alter our cities, lifestyles and the way we conduct business.

Another big change will be with carbon, how we calculate and capture it and where do we limit it. The onset of Quantifying the carbon footprint has the potential to drive change across the Property Industry in general. The discussion is both mind-bending and enlightening, as to where the carbon is, how is generated and how to reduce and manage the carbon footprint

I saw that Investa has committed to a 70% reduction in our waste to landfill by 2025. Why is this important to your business?

Investa are committed to being leaders in sustainability and waste is a huge component of that. It should be important to all businesses, not just Investa. It makes ethical sense to manage your waste and reduce landfill and setting targets helps to hold us to account but also to make impact at scale through significant reductions in the greenhouse emissions associated with landfill. I grew up with the Can Deposit Scheme and recycling waste practices in South Australia, so these are not foreign or complicated concepts, we just have to provide our building occupants with the right resources and knowledge to implement successfully.

1619425399674 Robert and the team with their new onsite dehydrator to create nutrient rich soil food

What is the biggest opportunity with waste within a facility or office building?

One of the biggest opportunities is a successful and uncontaminated generation of an organics waste stream. When a virgin organics stream can be achieved the contamination of other streams – paper, cardboard, glass dry waste will also be reduced.

Currently, the coffee grounds at 120 Collins Street are like gold, as they are used as the moisture additive for the onsite dehydrator which is used to repurpose organic matter.

Potentially the second-highest waste generator in an office building is de-fit waste matter and hard rubbish which, when managed correctly, can also be diverted from landfill or repurposed. An example is a recent fit-out at 120 Collins St where 10.1 tons of waste was generated and 92.50% of this was able to be diverted from landfill

Is there any advice you’d like to give to up and coming Facility Managers?

My advice is simple, I have two golden rules:

  1. Treat people like people and your efforts will be rewarded - when things go south, they will be there for you.
  2. Open your mind and bend it to consider opportunities and explore possibilities - the outcome will amaze you.

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