Sustainability

It is estimated that buildings may have 30-40 fit-outs during their lifecycle.  With non-domestic buildings producing around 18% of the UK’s Carbon Emmissions, there is an increasing need to interrogate how we can safeguard the environment for future generations and ensure the buildings we develop are healthy places to live work and play.

Sustainability in the Finishes and Interiors Sector

FIS is committed to taking a pro-active lead, not just in supporting the UK ambition to net zero carbon by 2050, but delivering profound transformation within our supply chain on all aspects of ethical and environmental sustainability.  Our Sustainability Working Group focuses on five key areas:

  • Influencing design and procurement
  • Increasing understanding and expertise on all aspects of sustainability
  • Setting targets and supporting standardisation of data collection
  • Creating an open network to share best practice, collate and create supporting resources
  • Highlighting individuals and approaches that help inspire and inform change

Below are some resources and information that support both a project and business approach.  If you are interested in improving the sustainability of your business or working on projects where there is the opportunity to introduce or the need to comply with key environmental or health requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact the FIS team.

The Race to Net Zero: What is driving change

In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.   The Prime Minister has subsequently pledged that the UK will “Build Back Greener” with 2021 being the “defining year of climate action”.   Further announcements are anticipated as the UK prepares to host The (Conference of the Parties) COP26 Summit, a global united Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it in November 2021.

The CLC Roadmap to Recovery  has laid out proposals to secure the future of construction businesses nationwide, while setting the industry on a sustainable path towards recovery based on three key steps and again re-emphasises the goal to:

Net Zero Carbon – improving design, product selection and manufacturing and construction processes to deliver built assets that achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases as part of the pathway towards net zero

The construction sector will need to reform to support the legally binding targets that support this pledge.  The Construction Playbook reinforces the commitment to:

Take strides towards our 2050 net zero commitment and focus on a whole life carbon approach to fight climate change and deliver greener facilities designed for the future.

Within the Finishes and Interiors Sector, a recent manifesto published by Perkins & Will identifies that the built environment is responsible for 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint and within this fit-out is responsible for 40% of energy in a building.  A key figure to target improvement identified in this report is that 300 tonnes of fit-out material goes to landfill every day.

The CO2nstruct Zero programme is the CLC programme designed to support this ambition and focusses on 9 core activities against three key themes.  Transport, Construction Activity and Building Use.  The programme identifies 9 priorities for change.

So whether you are doing it because a client is demanding it or just because you know it is the right thing to do, if you are interested in implementing a more sustainable approach in your business or on a particular project, the FIS is here to help.  Some basic advice is available below, but don’t hesitate to contact our team to talk through your options and how you can evolve to being a more sustainable business.

Race to Zero – This UN campaign backed by the UK Government is inviting businesses from every corner of the UK to join us in the #RaceToZero. Race To Zero is a global initiative, backed by science-based targets, to commit businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest.  To support SMEs the UK Government have launched The SME Climate Hub.

Finishes and Interiors Sector: The foundations of a Net Zero Strategy

ENGAGE THE SUPPLY CHAIN EARLY, PLAN WORKS TO MINIMISE WASTE Avoid late changes to design and plan all works to minimise waste from the start of the construction process. Poor coordination and late design changes are major contributors to waste on projects.

DESIGN OUT WASTE Choose solutions that generate less waste and design assets that can be dismantled. Avoid over-ordering and enable reuse.

OPTIMISE PACKAGING Only use as much packaging as is required to protect the product. Use materials that can be recycled and reuse pallets.

PUT WASTE TO GOOD USE Re-think waste. Prioritise reuse and recycling and avoid landfill.  What is your plan for off-cuts? How do you declare and report damaged material due to poor handling or storage (can you set targets to reduce?).  Did you know the Supply Chain Sustainability has a free you use materials exchange platform to help identify a home for unused construction materials. 

TALK TO SUPPLIERS At the start of a project, ask suppliers and advisors about new products that are more efficient or less harmful to the environment.

TALK TO CUSTOMERS Pass information about sustainability on to you your customers.  Is the question “we could improve sustainability by…” part of your conversations?

ASK THE QUESTION: “CAN WE DO MORE WITH LESS?” Make materials go further by designing your projects to be as compact, integrated and resource efficient as possible.  What can be standardised? Would adapting the design to suit standard material sizes help to improve resource efficiency? What can be done off-site to optimise waste re-use and minimise safety and health issues associated with cutting materials on site?  If you are stripping materials out, can they be re-used on this or other projects?

CHOOSE LOW-IMPACT PRODUCTS Buy materials and products that have a low environmental impact over the life of the project, whilst maintaining or improving the performance of the project.  Do you know what the life-cycle of the materials you are using are?

SOURCE RESPONSIBLY Procure materials and products that are certified to recognised responsible sourcing certification schemes where they exist.

REVIEW CONSTANTLY Always identify ways in which carbon could have been saved on a project with additional investment or time and make this part of your future conversations with clients and suppliers.

GET INVOLVED By working together as a supply chain, we can find critical mass and support change.  As well as the FIS Sustainability Working Group (to find out how to get involved email: iainmcilwee@thefis.org).  If you wish to go that extra step, FIS is supporting the CLC in setting up a network of ‘Business Champions’ who will be role models for the nine priorities. Business Champions will provide tangible evidence of the steps their businesses are taking to respond to the net zero challenge and will support FIS and CLC reporting on industry progress both directly and through their supply chains. Members can sign up as Business Champions at any time.

Additional supporting information

Environmental Policies – A factsheet produced by FIS to help write and implement Enviromental Policies

Zero Avoidable Waste in construction – This Green Construction Board report looks at the prevention of waste.  It focusses on every stage of a project’s lifecycle, from the manufacture of materials and products, the design, specification, procurement and assembly of buildings and infrastructure through to deconstruction. At the end of life, products, components and materials should be recovered at the highest possible level of the waste hierarchy, i.e. reused before being recycled, whilst ensuring minimal environmental impact.

The Supply Chain Sustainability School has launched its free Materials Exchange Platform Map (MEP Map), today, the 22 September. The mapping tool provides construction contractors and their suppliers with a central database of local MEP projects aiming to find a home for unused construction materials.

BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit Out (RFO)

The BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit Out (RFO) standard

The BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit Out (RFO) standard enables real estate investors, developers and building owners to assess and mitigate sustainability-related impacts during the design and works of a refurbishment or fit out project.  Through the assessment and certification process, the standard recognises and reflects the performance of the building once improvements have been made to the external envelope, structure, core services, local services or interior design of a building.

The standard can be used to assess the refurbishment and fit-out of most types and uses of existing buildings, including homes (note: in the UK there are separate standalone technical standards for non-domestic and domestic projects).  The standard includes specific assessment criteria for heritage buildings that take into account the constraints on these types of projects.

What does BREEAM for Refurbishment and Fit-Out set out to achieve?

The BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-Out standards aim to help investors, owners, landlords and occupiers by:

  • Retaining, improving and future proofing existing building assets instead of demolishing and rebuilding
  • Increases asset value by attracting clientele looking for improved standards of living or working conditions that enhances occupiers health, wellbeing, productivity & satisfaction
  • Improves overall building performance, which in turn reduces overall operational costs
  • Offers a route to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and sustainable business leadership
  • Provides certification and assurance from third party licensed assessors, that the building’s environmental performance has been met
  • Broader benefits of applying BREEAM can be located here

How does it work?

The assessment criteria and process focus on the scope of the refurbishment and/or fit-out from concept design through to the completed works of the building or unit. Once an Assessor has been appointed, and early appointment is recommended, they will undertake a number of site visits. These visits typically occur at least once during the design stage and once just after the building has been refurbished or fitted out. The assessor requires evidence to support the design and refurbishment work decisions for the performance claimed, agreed during the design of the project, and checks they have been fully implemented so that the benefits of the schemes application can be realised.

Finding a BREEAM assessor

Additional Supporting Information

BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-Out Brochure

The BREEAM Non Domestic RFO Standard

The BREEAM Domestic RFO Standard

BREEAM Wiki

WELL Building Standard

FIS Members will often be involved in projects that adopt the WELL Standard.  WELL is a leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings globally.   Register your office, building or other space to leverage WELL’s flexible framework for improving health and human experience through design.

 

WELL Building Standard article in SpecFinish May 2017

WELL Case Studies

Fit-out specialist and FIS member QOB Interiors has delivered a ‘gold’ level performance in the fit-out for multi-disciplinary engineer Cundall at One Carter Lane, Europe’s first building to gain the WELL Building Standard (WELL) – you can read more about the project here

Cundall London demonstrated a positive ROI outcome from WELL within three months merely by calculating their reductions in sick leave and attrition without any accounting for all the other benefits: Read the Case Study from a Cundall perspective here:  An Introduction to the WELL Building Standard – Cundall

Plasterboard Sustainability Action Plan

The Plasterboard Sustainability Partnership (PSP), which is made up of the broad range of stakeholders involved in the production, installation and disposal of plasterboard as well as the relevant government departments and regulatory agencies, was established in 2009 as an output of a DEFRA programme to develop a Plasterboard Roadmap identifying the environmental impacts of plasterboard throughout its lifecycle.  The Partnership is supported by the FIS Drylining Working Group.

More Information.

The Plasterboard Resource Efficiency Action Plan (REAP) sets targets for reducing waste across the sector.  There are currently no records across our sector for plasterboard waste. In order to understand the levels of plasterboard waste in the sector, the FIS Drywall Group has proposed members using a single method to record waste.

Download the document here

Plasterboard Company Waste Report

Plasterboard Site Waste Report

Technical note – The true cost of disposing of a skip full of plasterboard

 

Ceilings Sustainability Action Plan

The Ceilings Sustainability Partnership (CSP), which is made up of manufacturers, distributors and installers of suspended ceilings, was established to ensure that the resources used to manufacture Mineral Wool Ceiling Tiles are not wasted or having a detrimental impact on the environment.

Ceiling Sustainability Partnership

CSP List of Recyclers

Mineral Wool Ceiling Tiles: A Resource Efficiency Action Plan

Fit-Out Environmental Good Practice – Ciria Guide

A Resource Efficiency Action Plan for mineral wool ceiling tiles

SKA Rating System

Ska Rating was established in 2009 as the environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic fit-outs.  It helps designers, contractors, landlords and tenants assess fit out projects against a set of sustainability good practice criteria, known as good practice measures (GPM).   FIS sits on the board and supports the development of this standard.   

Although there were established tools for assessing the environmental impact of whole buildings (eg BREEAM in the UK, LEED in the US), industry feedback that the certification of fit out, especially on existing buildings, indicated that attempts to use whole building systems were unsatisfactory both in terms of high costs and low relevance.  Ska Rating has been developed with designers, contractors, corporate occupiers, managing agents and consultants. It differs from other labelling systems in that it is:

  • Project driven: labels fit out projects irrespective of base building
  • A free online tool has been made available to help organisations achieve more sustainable fit outs (businesses only pay if they want formal
    certification)
  • Flexible scoping: the tool measures only what is within the specific project’s scope.

How does it work?

SKA comprises more than a hundred ‘good practice’ measures covering energy and CO2 emissions, waste, water, materials, pollution, wellbeing and transport. An example of a good practice measure is that when wooden flooring is stripped out, it should be sent for re-use to a salvage yard instead of to landfill.

  • Key aspects of the rating system
  • Flexible scoping: match the rating to the scope of the fit-out 
  • Easy-to-use online tool
  • A label that is clear and easy to understand: Bronze, Silver and Gold, plus a percentage score 
  • A formal, quality assured scheme for those who require a certificate
  • Applicable to offices 
  • Applicable to retail

For more information on SKA visit the website here.

 

 

Flooring Sustainability Action Plan

This work was initiated by the Construction Products Association and supported by FIS as part of their commitments within the Strategy for Sustainable Construction. More information on the action plan can be found here.

As part of this work a specialist website has been created with the support of funding from WRAP and BRE Trust. It acts as a useful resource for those who want to know more about flooring waste and how it can be managed.

It has information for 5 types of flooring: Broadloom carpet and underlayment, Carpet tiles, Resilient flooring, Hard flooring, Resin flooring

  • For assistance with the recycling of carpets – click here
  • For assistance with Raised Access Flooring – click here

In 2021 the work was followed up by the publication of Net Zero in the Flooring Sector – Zero Avoidable Waste in Flooring — Towards a Circular Economy.  A scoping study exploring the concept of zero avoidable waste in the flooring industry, towards a circular economy published by the Contract Flooring Association (CFA).

Sustainability: Training our Workforce

Sustainable transformation is reliant on a skilled an competent workforce.  Below we look at some of the resources that exist to help you to inform, educate and upskill our existing and next generation workforce. 

The Supply Chain Sustainability School – A wealth of free resources to support the Construction Supply Chain in improving Sustainability and helping to hit net-Zero Targets.

Construction Leadership Council Sustainable Building Training Guide – A useful training guide that lays down some of the key responsibilities and core understanding required by the key contributors.

The sustainability framework – sets out the key themes for all employers to consider, no matter what sector they are in. This is a helpful guide, to ensure employers can consider how every apprenticeship can contribute to climate change goals.

Fairness, Inclusivity and Respect (FIR) Toolkit

Creating a working environment that encourages fairness, inclusivity and respect is more than a legal responsibility, it is a moral imperative and it makes good business sense.

Visit the FIS Fairness, Inclusivity and Respect (FIR) Toolkit here

Modern Slavery Toolkit

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 became law on 26 March 2015, with a ‘supply chain clause’ being added to the bills to force businesses to make public their efforts to stop the use of slave labour by its suppliers.  Since 29 October 2015, the Transparency in Supply Chain Provisions requires businesses to publish an annual statement if they have an annual turnover above £36 million. The statement must confirm the steps taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in the business or in any supply chain.  Exposure in the finishes and interiors sector is most significant for businesses using labour gangs.

Visit the FIS Modern Slavery Toolkit here

Additional Supporting Information

Introduction to The Value Toolkit – Developed by the Construction Innovation Hub through the CLC, The Value Toolkit aims to support a wider definition of value though procurement.  It is based on the Five Capitals Model (natural, manufactured, social, human and financial).

The Supply Chain Sustainability School – A wealth of free resources to support the Construction Supply Chain in improving Sustainability and helping to hit net-Zero Targets.

Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition – UKGBC has developed a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings to provide the industry with clarity on how to achieve net zero carbon in construction and operation.

The Zero Carbon Hubs Builders Book –  A best practice example of identifying priorities in supporting the construction of sustainable buildings.

Construction Leadership Council Sustainable Building Training Guide – A useful training guide that lays down some of the key responsibilities and core understanding required by the key contributors. 

Zero Avoidable Waste in construction – This Green Construction Board report looks at the prevention of waste.  It focusses on every stage of a project’s lifecycle, from the manufacture of materials and products, the design, specification, procurement and assembly of buildings and infrastructure through to deconstruction. At the end of life, products, components and materials should be recovered at the highest possible level of the waste hierarchy, i.e. reused before being recycled, whilst ensuring minimal environmental impact.

Industrial decarbonisation strategy – This strategy sets out how industry (defined as This strategy covers the full range of UK industry sectors: metals and minerals, chemicals,  food and drink, paper and pulp, ceramics, glass, oil refineries and less energy-intensive  manufacturing) can decarbonise in line with net zero while remaining competitive and without pushing emissions abroad.

The sustainability framework – sets out the key themes for all employers to consider, no matter what sector they are in. This is a helpful guide, to ensure employers can consider how every apprenticeship can contribute to climate change goals. 

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