Reflections on 10 years of the Strategy
By Andy Spencer, chair of the Sustainable Concrete Forum
It isn’t often that we have a chance to pause and look back over a whole decade. Launched in 2008, the Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy had been a year in the making, a milestone for the many organisations that make up the concrete industry. Sustainability was at the forefront of our minds, with the development of sector climate change agreements and the joint government-industry Strategy for Sustainable Construction.
Then came the global economic crash of 2008 and immediate priorities changed. During the ensuing recession, the concrete industry identified sustainability as a way of staying competitive. One advantage of concrete is that it is a local material, with a transparent supply chain that makes it possible to achieve sustainability and high ethical standards at every stage. Responsible sourcing standard BES 6001 became widely adopted, and many more production sites were covered by environmental management systems.
As we look forward to a decade that may become defined by uncertainity and change, the concrete industry is continuing to invest in its UK operations and workforce. It is clear that much more will need to change in the way that buildings are specified and maintained, and that we must take a more holistic view of sustainability that prioritises safety, resilience, health and wellbeing. Concrete’s inherent fire and flood resilience and thermal mass support a whole-life view of buildings that is good both for occupants and for the environment.
In the first phase of our strategy, we have focused our work and reporting around a series of performance indicators. As we look beyond 2020, setting new targets and indicators, we invite stakeholders to work with us to shape the role concrete plays in delivering a low-risk, long-life, low-carbon, sustainable built environment. Our strategy joins together the activities of many sectors, as well as the collective best practice of the Mineral Products Association and The Concrete Centre. This review includes some of the highlights of the last ten years, and provides a flavour of what can be achieved by our industry. I’m always heartened by the incredible variety of sustainable practices and solutions that we deliver which are so important for both our quality of life and the economy. I look forward to continuing our journey with your valuable feedback and guidance.
Written in 2018, as introduction to Ten Years Ten Insights
The embodied carbon of concrete has reduced by 28% since 1990 (based on 2016 data)
The concrete industry is a net consumer of waste
More than 90% of BES 6001 certified concrete is rated Very Good or Excellent
The concrete industry has cut mains water consumption by almost 10%
More than 99% of relevant sites have a biodiversity action plan
Concrete offers resilience in an uncertain future
Concrete is essential to UK prosperity
Concrete structures and finishes can improve quality of life
Concrete goes above and beyond compliance
Ten years of detailed sustainability data has laid a foundation for the future