There are many ways in which construction product manufacturers report on their sustainability ambitions, actions and impacts. Some reporting is in response to legislation such as being part of the UK Emissions Trading System, or as a requirement of water extraction licenses, or perhaps due to air quality requirements. Other forms of sustainability reporting may be voluntary responding to demands from clients or to changing social values or to a company “wanting to do the right thing”. Recently in response to the climate emergency, many manufacturers have sort to make public pledges and commitments stating their ambitions to reduce their climate change impact (see the CPA Decarbonisation Directory) and this is accompanied by an action plan.
Sustainability reporting can be at several different levels:
At a company level:
An individual company (large or small) may produce an annual sustainability report which sets out the issues it is addressing, its targets, means of measurement and annual monitoring of progress.
At a trade association level:
There are many construction product sectors and the companies within them tend to coalesce, often for technical standards reasons, into distinct trade associations, such as the British Woodworking Federation, the Contract Flooring Association, the Door and Hardware Association or the Mineral Products Association. CPA has 40 trade association in its membership. Some trade associations publish an annual sustainability report for their group of members. Others may prepare action plans to enable their members to progress on a particular topic.
At the product level:
A construction product manufacturer may be asked what is the environmental impact of your product, as distinct from what is the environmental impact of you as a company. The environmental impact of a construction product is measured by a life cycle assessment (lca) methodology to produce an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). The rules for how this should be prepared for construction products is set within the standard EN 15804.
The CPA provides Briefing Papers on the topic of Sustainability Reporting to help the wider construction industry and policy makers to gain a better understanding of sustainability reporting in the construction product manufacturing sector, which on product reporting goes back almost 30 years to the BRE’s LCA-based Green Guide to Specification which assessed the environmental impact of over 2000 building elements.
For more information, please contact Jane Thornback.