As the industry demands materials and services from companies committed to sustainability, Lorna Stork, Environmental, Sustainability and Governance Director at SIG UK, explains how distributors acting as sustainability champions can be instrumental in aiding communication between manufacturers, merchants and housebuilders.
Pressure is mounting on the supply chain to deliver clearly traceable, sustainable solutions to housebuilders, investors and developers working towards Net Zero. Indeed, the construction industry is responsible for up to 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions and is therefore being looked at for some of the most impactful changes when it comes to our critical need for environmental reform.
Carbon emissions are split into three areas when considering sustainability. Housebuilders will usually examine scopes 1 and 2 carbon emissions first, which are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, and indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling.
Scope 3 covers all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain and sits outside a housebuilder’s own controlled sources. So, without effective communication along the supply chain, this is where housebuilders struggle to ascertain the precise environmental impact of a construction project, and therefore struggle to provide accurate information to investors and buyers.
However the distributor, as the essential connection between manufacturer and customer, is perfectly positioned to ensure accurate product data is gathered and passed on to merchants, housebuilders and their contractors, provided manufacturers are just as diligent in their information gathering.
And with access to numerous well-known and relied-on manufacturers and brands, SIG UK is well positioned to help merchants source and supply the most sustainable products, with all the right sustainability information.
Calculating Embodied Carbon: mitigating inconsistencies
The most common methodology for calculating embodied carbon uses Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), based on the European standard EN 15804. However, there can be inconsistencies in how manufacturers measure their embodied carbon data — one supplier might measure the embodied carbon from raw materials through to manufacturing, while another might consider whole product lifecycles.
SIG UK is currently working on creating a common methodology for measuring the embodied carbon of products, that relies on EPD information and lifecycle analysis, as well as considering the carbon impact of the product in use — its operational carbon. This will provide a standard for measuring carbon and finally give housebuilders — and their buyers — more clarity over the products that go into their buildings, enabling them to make fair comparisons between products.
By implementing this within the supply chain, specification of better performing, lower carbon products can be accelerated through the transparency of their carbon data. This would give the industry all the tools to drive significant change and aid the development of a wide range of products to meet evolving customer demand.
This is just one part of the sustainability strategy of SIG UK, which looks at our footprint as a distributor and how we can help our suppliers and customers reach their goals.
Indeed, many suppliers to SIG UK are actively working to reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. SIG UK has a responsibility to pass this information on and ensure it is visible and transparent as it accounts for our customers Scope 3 emissions. With this in place, it’ll become far easier to track, measure, and pass on those savings, ensuring all our targets are met.
What is SIG UK doing internally to drive the sustainability agenda?
SIG UK has recently been appointed CO2nstructZero Business Champion by the Construction Leadership Council, recognising and further demonstrating our work and commitment in the Net Zero space.
CO2nstructZero is a programme from the CLC which sets out a framework for how the construction industry can achieve Net Zero by 2050. Within the programme are nine priorities which provide focus and a roadmap for the industry to meet the Net Zero goal. Business Champions are organisations whose actions and values align to these nine priorities.
Demonstrating a commitment to a Net Zero approach, SIG UK has been awarded the Business Champion title and has developed a UK road map for current initiatives to work towards this goal, including setting annual targets for the business. Equally, we are working closely with suppliers to understand their own sustainability goals and implement additional information requests to capture product and manufacturer sustainability information.
SIG UK has also partnered with the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS) to provide resources to further sustainable building practices within the supply chain. Through this partnership, SIG UK will be helping to develop learning pathways in key sustainability areas for internal colleagues and suppliers.
Alongside this, SIG UK is also investing in reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions through reducing the carbon emissions of our own distribution fleet. We are trialling the use of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel as an alternative to diesel; chosen as it immediately delivers significant carbon benefits while the commercial vehicle industry is still deliberating between electric, hybrid, battery or hydrogen operated vehicles.
For more information on SIG UK’s product range and its sustainability credentials, visit sigdistribution.co.uk