In the current global landscape, the significance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles has noticeably grown within every sector, including the construction industry. According to government reports, the built environment contributes to 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. With the growth of accreditations such as LEED and BREEAM, now is the time to take sustainable development in the construction industry seriously. The sector has an incredible opportunity to integrate these principles into their practices and contribute to sustainable progress, by systematically collecting and utilising ESG information. We’ve outlined the importance of capturing ESG data in the construction industry, and how it can add value and drive positive change for people and the planet.
Environmental data collection
Collecting environmental data can offer valuable insights into energy consumption, material life cycle impacts, carbon emissions, water usage, and waste generation involved in construction activities. It helps construction companies understand their environmental impact, set sustainability targets and identify improvement opportunities. But it can also play a part in regulation compliance and risk management. Armed with this knowledge, it’s easier to pinpoint areas with significant environmental effects and create strategies to mitigate them. This is especially important given the UK government recommendations in the recent Net Zero Mission review. Some suggestions include:
- Prioritising the delivery of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, and make sure all homes sold are EPC level ‘C’ by 2023.
- Creating a national programme for ‘Net Zero Retrofit Hubs’
- Considering a new Net Zero Homes Standard and Net Zero Performance Certificate
By collecting environmental data, construction companies can stay ahead of the curve and become industry leaders in progressing towards Net Zero. Luckily, a lot of this data is often already recorded. A variety of sources can provide relevant information such as energy and utility bills, fuel receipts, waste management records, data from material suppliers and manufacturers etc. Using these, construction companies can collate their data and begin to manage their impact on the planet. Often this is the most challenging part, but at Sustainit we’re experts in collecting, checking, and managing this type of environmental data. Then, this information can be used to implement the most effective sustainability initiatives for reducing waste and carbon emissions, conserving water, protecting habitats, and investing in sustainable materials. This allows construction companies to really make a positive impact!
Social responsibility and stakeholder engagement
Not only can capturing and evaluating ESG data help to reduce the environmental effects of the construction process, but it can also have a positive influence on social sustainability. This refers to the impact an organisation has on relevant stakeholders – from employees and customers to the wider community. This might include paying the real living wage to all employees or working with local community groups for consultations. In fact, we helped one of our clients conduct their annual human rights assessment, consolidating and analysing data captured from the market.
Construction companies can assess their social performance by tracking data through stakeholder engagement via questionnaire surveys or interviews. Different types of information related to labour practices, health and safety standards, employee satisfaction, community feedback, supplier and contractor diversity, and more, can then be evaluated to implement effective policies and processes. The positive effects of this are limitless! Social sustainability data can be used to improve site and project culture, increase employee retention, and improve relationships with local communities.