Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Construction firms failing to address carbon footprint

May 2015

Many British construction firms are failing to take basic steps to decrease their carbon emissions and energy use, new research has found.

In a market survey by Achilles the supply chain risk management company, 68% of UK construction firms said managing carbon emissions and energy consumption was going to be a bigger priority in 2015. However, two-fifths (40%) had no programme in place to monitor their own carbon emissions and energy use.

Further, almost three-quarters (74%) did not monitor the carbon emissions or energy use of their main suppliers – despite these contractors being involved in carbon and energy-intensive activities such as concrete pours; fleet use and transportation; and demolition and clearing of sites.

The survey was conducted by independent research company IFF, which interviewed 35 large UK construction companies, all with more than 250 employees.

The findings show construction firms need to take action if they want to meet the government’s Construction 2025 target to lower the industry’s carbon emissions by 50%.

The same report also sets a target for the industry to become “dramatically more sustainable through its efficient approach to delivering low carbon assets more quickly and at a lower cost, underpinned by strong, integrated supply chains and productive long-term relationships”.

Stephen Marshall, community manager for Achilles BuildingConfidence, a pre-qualification and accreditation scheme, said: “The pressure is mounting for construction companies to get to grips with tackling carbon emissions and energy use – but many are still suffering from a void of information about their own impact and that of their suppliers.

“At a time when energy bills are rising sharply, and construction margins are becoming ever tighter, the smartest firms are cutting energy consumption as a way of cutting costs, as well as carbon.”

“Construction firms can ‘lead by example’ and implement programmes to monitor emissions – because you cannot improve what you cannot measure.”

“Up to 60% of construction firms’ revenue is spent with suppliers and main contractors can really accelerate progress by working collaboratively with suppliers to achieve carbon reduction goals.

“For example, some firms are now actively seeking local subcontractors in order to reduce travel emissions while others are prefabricating large building components offsite.” 

Achilles | UK & NI Ireland |


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