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.

FIS Sustainability Hub

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 will support your journey to net zero.  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.

Sustainability Working Group

The group will meet virtually on 27 May, if you are interested in getting involved email iainmcilwee@thefis.org

The Foundations of a Sustainability Strategy

In this toolkit we look at some of the key actions that you can take and also some of the wider sector initiatives that can support your business in setting a sustainability strategy.  The aim is to support companies in meeting the ethical and environmental aspects of sustainability considered from the three dimension of planet, people and profit across the entire construction supply chain.  Definitions of sustainability do vary, but focus is on where our sector can make a positive impact in line with the UN Sustainability goals and the Net Zero agenda in the UK.  

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 Goals set by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs to support global action.  These goals recognised that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

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

The Race to Net Zero: The political and procurement drivers for change

To address glowing understanding of the impacts of climate 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.   With the The (Conference of the Parties) COP26 Summit taking place in the UK in November 2021 and , 2021 has been designated “The UK’s year or Climate Action” and targets have been further tighteded to to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels

With Construction accounting for 40% of UK Carbon Consumption, the construction industry is critical to supporting this commitment.   To this end the Construction Leadership Council (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.  This includes 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

Within the Finishes and Interiors Sector, a recent manifesto published by Perkins & Will identifies that fit-out is responsible for 40% of energy consumed by 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.

Procurement driving change

Government procurement is being driven by The Construction Playbook, which mandates  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.

The focus on construcion is being replicated across the Economy with Government encouraging companies to Pledge to Change.   Race to Zero is a UN campaign backed by the UK Government encouraging businesses of all sizes to join the #RaceToZero.   This global initiative is 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.

This Pledge based approach will  undoubtedly encourage companies to consider the impact of buildings and construction work against these commitments and to future-proof investments by considering future tennant expectations.   The Better Buildings Partnership’s Climate Change Commitment has, for example, been signed to date by 24 of the country’s largest commercial property owners that have each pledged to deliver net zero carbon portfolios by 2050. This Commitment applies to both new and existing schemes and covers operational and embodied carbon for the entire building, including energy consumed.

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.

FIS 10 Golden Rules for Waste Reduction

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.

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

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.

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

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

Modern Slavery can take many forms including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude and slavery. Construction remains high risk particularly in terms of forced labour. Employers and most notably companies engaging workers through gangs and labour agencies must be vigilant. It is estimated that there are approaching 140,000 people currently impacted by Modern Slavery in the UK.

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. 

Where to start: Sustainability and Your Business

Have you reviewed your Sustainability Policy – Sustainability Policies – A factsheet produced by FIS to help write and implement Enviromental Policies, how could it be upgraded and enhanced?  How is it communicated internally and externally?

Who is the person in your business responsible for ongoing improvement?  How knowledgeable are they, have they had any formal training?

The Supply Chain Sustainability School – Provides a wealth of free resources to support the Construction Supply Chain in improving Sustainability and helping to hit net-Zero Targets.  In partnership with the school FIS is working on a Finishes and Interiors Hub that will be launched in 2021.   

Do you have an internal working group looking at possibilities and opportunities?  Could you take a core busines view and a project view (i.e. how can the business improve? how can we do more for less on each project?

Would external accreditation to e.g. ISO 14,001 help to bring a more intense focus on your business.  

Have you used the FIS Golden Rules for Waste Reduction to support internal and external discussions?

Have you considered making a Pledge.  Keep checking back on this tookit as our working group starts to develop advice around science based and corporate targets relevant to our sector and case studies that may support a pledge based approach from you and our wider collective.  In the meantime, if you are keen to get ahead, have a look at The SME Climate Hub for examples of best practice.

Contact FIS on 0121 707 0077 or arrange an appointment via info@thefis.org to discuss how you can improve on the ethical and environmental aspects of sustainability in your business.

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.

Measuring The Impact of Projects and Products

There are a number of systems and tools in place that help to monitor and measure the impact of a project, product or material, below we provide an outline and access to further information on some of the core measurement systems that support our supply chain.

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

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.

 

 

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), also known as life-cycle analysis, is a technique to assess the environmental impacts associated with a product over a defined time period. LCA data for a construction product will include the environmental impacts from raw material extraction, through materials processing, to manufacture, distribution, use, repair & maintenance, and disposal (or in some cases recycling).  Information on the product, such as energy usage in manufacturing, service life and thermal performance will have been gathered and used to calculate the impact of the product. Depending on the scope of the project, LCA can measure the relative environmental impacts of using different materials to manufacture a product and it can also be used to analyse the benefits of high performance specifications over generic industry products.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a standardized way of communicating and verifying the environmental performance of a product.  Modeling Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data underpins environmental profiles such as the Green Guide rating, which is a measure of overall environmental impacts and covers a range of issues from Climate change and Mineral resource extraction, to Human toxicity and Waste disposal.

Becoming a Net Zero Business Champion

The FIS is supporting the Construction Leadership Council in calling on individuals to declare their commitment to support CO2nstruct Zero, the construction industry’s response to the climate emergency.  The CO2nstruct Zero Business Champions initiative enables companies to be role models in this industry change programme. They demonstrate a commitment towards the sector’s drive towards reducing carbon emissions in the delivery and operation of the built environment.  Companies who want to be business champions are encouraged to commit to CO2nstruct Zero and can apply to become a Business Champion in an ongoing monthly recruitment drive.  You can find out more about the CO2nstruct Zero Business Champions initiative here.

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