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MATERIALS, CONSTRUCTION, SUSTAINABILITY Assessing the need to demonstrate responsible

sourcing of construction products Since publication of the 2008 joint industry and government strategy for sustainable construction, responsible sourcing of materials has gained increasing prominence within the construction industry. The strategy set as one of its overarching targets a commitment to procure 25% of construction materials through schemes recognised for responsible sourcing. In response to this, a framework standard for the responsible sourcing of construction products (BES 6001) was published and sustainability ratings schemes such as BREEAM and CEEQUAL began to award scores for demonstrating responsible sourcing.


ow, six years on from

publication of

this strategy, over 100 BES 6001 certificates have been awarded to over 70 companies, yet research remains limited, despite an increasing interest among practitioners and construction professionals. Through an EPSRC-funded research project sponsored by

Responsible Solutions Ltd, research into responsible sourcing has been underway since late 2011. At the project’s initiation, research had been confined to a handful of academic papers focusing on the

relative importance of the subject when set in the bigger picture

The CELSA Steel UK works at Cardiff, where responsible sourcing of materials can be demonstrated through third party certifications (3 photographs are courtesy of CELSA Steel UK/ Loughborough University/ Nick Rawle Photography)

of sustainability and the reporting of results from several workshops. This research project has aimed to develop upon this and has highlighted that organisations tend to engage with responsible sourcing primarily due to market pressures: keeping up with competitors is seen as a key driver for becoming certified to the BES 6001 framework standard. Smaller organisations in particular tend to opt for certification only because they would find themselves in a minority should they not become certified, and thus find themselves as a less preferred supplier to construction projects where responsbile sourcing scores under BREEAM or CEEQUAL are strived for. However, despite this uptake of certification to BES 6001, research carried out jointly with the BRE as part of this project determined that, as a whole, the construction industry has struggled to consistently implement the standard, with considerable variation in the way that the points are scored by certified companies. BES 6001 is a points-based standard, where a certain number of points are awarded under a number of clauses depending upon the level of compliance that can


be demonstrated. Organisations are then awarded a given performance rating depending on how many points they accrue. Results highlighted that currently, a largely reactive and

somewhat random approach to the standard by industry is commonplace. Further case study work with two small organisations has linked the sustainability drive to the broader topic

Innovation & Research Focus Issue 99 NOVEMBER 2014

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