Integrating Management Systems under Construction Social Responsibility umbrella

Interesting discussion yesterday with forward thinking construction professionals at Stobbarts (on the British Energy Coast in Cumbria) who really understood the importance of wrapping management systems, procedures and processes under a Corporate Social Responsibility umbrella.

The exercise in question was part of the PAS 2030 preparation, bringing together existing standards that meet an impressive range of standards (9001, 14001, 18001, 50001, 27001, Carbon Action Standard and more)

Construction organisations do not operate in a vacuum. Our relationships to society and environment in which we operate is increasingly an important element of construction activities. It is also increasingly being used as a measure of overall construction performance.

Clients and customers of the construction industry not only want a good product and good service in delivering that product, but a good social product as well.  Increasingly a key PQQ issue from clients, but, CSR cannot remain in the marketing or bidding departments but has to be reflected through the organisation.

No surprise then as more and more organisations are looking to integrate their systems which have grown independent to meet the requirements of ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 standards, it makes sense to consider the social aspect of each, and frame within an organisations CSR statement.

(And to keep within the ISO thinking ISO 26000 provides good guidance to Social Responsibility)

Five questions to drive sustainable construction

Whilst being a great advocate for learning from others, sharing and benchmarking best practice, often it is essential to ask questions of our approaches to topics such as sustainable construction, before comparing.

In this mornings twitter fed reading stream was an article describing the five questions that Interface ask of themselves.  Interface are world leaders in design, production and sales of environmentally responsible modular carpets “Design is a mindset and sustainability is the journey of a lifetime”

Now whilst Interface’s responses in the article are inspiring, it struck me these are the questions we should all be asking of ourselves. Asking across the built environment, in design and specification, in product manufacture, in construction procurement and supply chains. Asking within project sustainability meetings, within company sustainability development and review sessions, at board level and even in ISO14001 audits.

Asking until we have answers and approaches we can live with.

1. How can we increase use of recycled and bio-based materials? 

2. How can we prevent our materials from ending up in landfill?

3. How can we reduce carbon and GHG emissions and at the same time increase our use of renewable energies?

4. How can we reduce water consumption?

5. How can our clients and customers make decisions about materials based upon trustworthy environmental facts? 

Once you have answers to these questions, you will want to take a look at Five Questions Businesses Must Answer to Advance Toward Sustainability According to Interface, Inc.

Join the discussion on these questions, share your responses and learn from others through twitter with @fairsnape and others, through leaving comments below or getting in touch.

PQQ Secrets: Listening to the voice of the customer

For PQQ responses to have chance of success they need to address the requirements and aspirations of the client and project.

They also need to differentiate from the competition. So when a client organisation presents on how to differentiate at bid stage, you should be on to a winner.

But of course it’s an ever iterative game, and you will need to be better than those who also hear the customers tips for bidding.

At last weeks CSkills Forum in Salford, Urban Vision Partnership presented what they look to as differentiators when marking and selecting PQQ’s, either as direct bids, as part of a consortia or within a supply chain. Urban Vision’s overall remit is to manage, protect, maintain and enhance development within the city.

Key Differentiating Factors:

– Creation of community benefit

– Workforce development

– Added value and innovation

– Environmental performance, eg 14001 and CO2 monitoring

– Health and Safety practices, eg 18001

– An IMS (Integrated Management System) approach to quality, sustainability and safety

How many of these can you honestly tick as being well established, or well in development, within your organisation, to articulate within bids?

Many of these have been part of the construction business improvement agenda for many years now, certainly since Egans Rethinking Construction back in 1998, whilst others are relatively new as Methods of Modern Construction Management.

Through fairsnape we can help with advice or support in these areas, in practice or in bid articulation. Why not have a conversation? You can follow and join me on twitter @fairsnape, subscribe to or share this blog post, or get in touch.

Green Deal Thoughts: Is green deal missing the behaviour measure?

Could Green Deal fail it its core objective of reducing CO2?

Green Deal is a necessary and welcome approach to funding improvement to our built environment fabric, increasing the use of renewable energy, and importantly providing structure to eco-fit work via the awaited PAS 2030 standard.

Yet, could the Green Deal approach be seen as ‘too’ technical and not addressing user and occupant behaviour, increasingly recognised as the key ingredient to CO2 reduction in the built environment.

I was reminded at the recent Lancashire Best Practice Club green deal event that our comfort levels within homes and buildings has increased by around 7 degrees over the last two decades or so.

Those of us who grew up in the 60’s will recall the infamous morning frost on the inside of windows, since when, building insulation has improved, but at the same time we use more and more energy to improve our comfort levels.

There is a danger that, as Green Deal makes home and workplaces more energy efficient, users and occupiers, especially older and vulnerable tenants, will simply take advantage of the increased comfort level and keep their energy levels and costs as before. (And coupled with the Green Deal Loan charge could increase energy bills and repayments) There is also research that suggests what we save on heating bills we spend on other high CO2 emitting  gadgets or travel.

Alongside the measures within Green Deal we need user behaviour measures.

Perhaps one of the easiest would be the ability to openly benchmark our homes or offices against a CO2 league table of homes in the street, offices on a business park.

The technology and devices exist, see Pachube, the EPC iphone app I blogged on in 2010 and for example I can now easily and freely track my cycle rides against other riders on the same segment of road, on the Strava cycle app. Why not track my energy use against other homes and premises?

This behaviour approach now needs the promotion alongside Green Deal technical measures. And Green Deal Assessors have a prime opportunity to introduce such measures.

Related good reading

CIRS – Where occupants are seen as inhabitants and required to sign a sustainability charter

Tenant Behaviour: Five Keys to Meeting Environmental Performance Goals

Half of Multinationals to Choose Suppliers Based on CO2 Emissions

Why monitor construction carbons:  Shortly after writing a comment to a linkedin group on the importance of measuring and understanding construction carbons, through tools such as ConstructCO2, indications of increased focus on carbon performance popped up in a tweet (via Julie Urlaub @TaigaCompany ) regarding an Environmental Leader post that referenced Carbon Trust Report: Half of Multinationals to Choose Suppliers Based on CO2 Emissions 

According to the study, a full half of multinational companies plan to select suppliers based on carbon performance, and that 29% of suppliers are likely to lose their places on green supply chains if they do not have adequate performance records on carbon.

In the U.K., 56% of multinationals said that in the future they expect to drop suppliers based upon low carbon performance, with 74% of the U.K. respondents quoting shareholder pressure as a key driver for them in tackling carbon emissions.

And, although the report has a focus on multinationals, it is not irrelevant to the built environment

Next month Marshalls Plc, a supplier of hard landscaping, will be hosting a United Nations Global Compact Supplier event to educate first-tier suppliers on its approach to environmental issues.

As I posted to the Think Zero group on Linkedin, I still have to hear a good reason why we should not be measuring construction carbons.  Are you tracking your carbon performance – do you have the evidence?

Read more: Carbon performance offers major risk or reward

Construction supply chain footprints

Our construction carbon tool, Constructco2, through its ability to monitor a projects supply footprint is throwing up some interesting issues:

Take a look at a project footprint that has a focus on localism – ie in keeping material, supplier, management and even waste transportation as close as possible to the project:

And then one that doesn’t (which is actually less in construction value):

Across the 80 or so projects on the site we can start to see the travel pattern for materials, people and waste, and how close to the project …

All this starts to position Constructco2 as a possible valuable CSR tool and indicator, monitoring impact of projects on local communities, and starting to raise issues of procurement, appropriate sourcing / specification as well as good on site project management housekeeping

These notes are extracted from my recent ConstructCO2 presentation that is available to view on slideshare. 

For more on information please get in touch or visit Constructco2,and follow links.