Construction professionals are asking increasingly for transparent and reliable information on the responsible sourcing of building materials. This development is driven primarily by green building rating schemes, but increasingly builders are looking for information on materials whether they plan to certify a building or not.
In many aspects, sustainability has to be defined at the local level. On the other hand, most sustainability issues are relevant in any location around the world. Based on its work to set performance metrics for the cement industry, the CSI is developing the following work.
A responsible sourcing scheme provides qualitative information that identifies and promotes responsible practices throughout the concrete supply chain addressing both social and environmental impacts of the business. It is based on a set of agreed principles of sustainability, the precise scope of which is determined by stakeholder engagement. The CSI is currently identifying the main environmental and social criteria that should be included in the scope of such a system at global level.
Together, EPDs and RSS provide a complete look at the material and the company, providing reliable and transparent information to the construction market.
The first comprehensive label on the sourcing of a material was the Forest Stewardship Council’s FSC-label for the timber sector. Since then, more initiatives have started to certify materials on a range of sustainability criteria. In the UK, BRE pioneered the development of a certification system for construction products, BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products. Producers can get third-party verification against the requirements of BES 6001 to substantiate their claims for responsible practices. The US National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) has developed a Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification scheme. It provides a quantitative metric to assess production practices; it is also subject to third-party verification.
The Concrete Sustainability Council (CSC)
The Concrete Sustainability Council (CSC) is a global responsible sourcing certification system which is designed to help concrete, cement and aggregate companies obtain insight in the level to which a company operates in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible way.
The CSC certification system has been developed together with a large group of the industry as well as certification institutes. A diligent consultation process was engaged with environmental experts and representatives from civil society focused on providing feedback on the system's environmental and social criteria.
The CSC certification system consists of an operational manual and assessment criteria with guidance on their application. A typical certification process includes a number of easy steps, is applicable to all sizes of concrete, cement and aggregate companies, and comprises four levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
By creating a certification system for responsibly sourced concrete, the CSC aims to improve transparency of the concrete sector, highlight the essential role of concrete in creating a sustainable construction sector by getting recognition in 'green' procurement government policies and building rating systems.