When I worked for a leading building product manufacturer in the 1990s we used to recycle quite a lot of reject material and scrap into our product, it made good sense as a means of keeping the cost down. But we didn’t admit it, after all we were selling a premium product and our customers expected quality raw materials to go into its manufacture. How things have changed!

Today, companies must adopt sustainable practices to meet Client and Designer demands for more sustainable buildings but that does not mean that they can’t also save money!

So what do companies need to do to make a credible case to their customers?

1.     Don’t repackage old practices as new initiatives

2.     Understand the larger issues of sustainability

3.     Make sustainability a company culture, encourage your staff to adopt sustainable practices

4.     Look at your entire process and identify ways of being more sustainable

5.     Improvements need to be a continuous process not a one-off measure

6.     Support any claims with facts

7.     Keep informed about new developments; changes to the Green Guide and embodied water will both become issues before long

8.     Ensure you follow the Green Claims Guidance published by Defra

9.     Most important, don’t ‘debate’ with your competitors, instead take an independent, fact based approach

A good example of an effective sustainability policy, which makes a good story and also saves money, is that published by Carillion. They say that in their latest annual sustainability report they hit 60% of their sustainability targets. Only 10 of the 17 targets were hit. The fact that last year only half the targets were achieved shows that progress is being made. But also important is the quote from Richard Howson, chief executive of Carillion: “Our report demonstrates that sustainability can make a powerful contribution to profit as well as operational delivery and it creates real benefits for the communities in which we work.”

Another good sustainability story, that also saves money is the Marks and Spencer Cheshire Oaks Eco store. The store have proven popular with customers and also cheaper to operate, such that Marks and Spencer have committed to 60% of the eco features becoming standard in future stores.

So think about your own sustainability policies, are they saving you money and are you telling everyone about your successes?

First published by Green Construction Board Blog 2014.


Further information

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