Blog Post

Corporate Social Responsibility – The upper hand of the construction firms

02.09.2019 | 6 min read | Written by Thomas Lehner

Sustainable world concept. 3D computer generated image.

CSR is an abbreviation that stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. It might not be a familiar term for many people, but the best way to elaborate is; a company’s efforts to improve the societal situation and give back to the community. How you contribute to your society is solely the main shape former for your position in the market and among your competitors. It is not a matter of discussion that our habits affect our community and the world we live in. Each person should think their deeds and if that deed is considered harmful or not. An accumulative sequence of bad habits could lead to unavoidable conditions we put our world through.

That was on an individualistic level, but what does corporate has to do with it? When it comes to companies, no matter the size of the company, it is automatically accounted for its actions and impact on society. CSR is a concept of management where companies highlight social and environmental concerns in their business interactions and deals. How to balance the economical, environmental and social essentials is what each and every company should take into consideration. Some may confuse CSR as the methods of making a profit but it is not about that, it about the ways in which that profit is being spent.

Different types of Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Corporate Philanthropy
    This act lies under the umbrella of charitable donations and funds.
  • Corporate Volunteerism
    A few companies around the world advice their employees to dedicate time for volunteering for an important cause.
  • Environmental Leadership
    Is when a company chooses to recycle the products being used and make use of time on how to reduce their carbon emissions.
  • Ethical Labour Practices
    Manpower is key to any company’s success and for any business owner to support their employees few procedures need to be made. Offering competitive salaries, providing parental leave and generous packages.
  • Economic Responsibility
    Company owners should invest back in their communities and that happens when they do not evade taxes and keep their employees on a competitive wage scale.

Building with a futuristic vision

Considering the CSR role in the construction industry, one of the key factors is the hazardous environmental impact and its results on the community. Whenever a new project’s concept embarks in a person’s mind, the impact of that idea should come ahead of implementing the idea itself. According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), around 4.5 million homes in the UK are subject to overheating, while 1.8 million people are living with the risk of flooding, significantly. The key findings show that 14% of total UK emissions are only accounted from energy used in homes, this increase was only recorded between the year 2016 and 2017. On a side matter, this report has also highlighted that the UK consumes more water on average than many other European countries.

The Construction and Demolition Waste production has identified that the causes of waste come within a direct and indirect approach towards the environment, including:

  • Materials management and logistics.
  • Poor materials specification.
  • Poor or unnecessary materials handling.
  • Lack of on-site supervision and management.
  • No site waste management plan.
  • Poor communication on-site and a lack of clear responsibilities.
  • Poor workmanship, errors, and rework.
  • Poor sequencing of work packages leading to damage by succeeding trades.
  • Lack of materials optimisation resulting in excessive off-cuts.
  • Inadequate, incorrect or excessive packaging.
  • Time pressure.
  • Site office/canteen waste.

What are the methods for avoiding the C&D W?

Based on the EPA’s effort, the design phase is the ideal stage to plan a strategy to prevent waste. If the design phase becomes set in stone, the further steps would initially become harder to adapt and make changes, decisions become fixed and change comes at cost then. The UK Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has listed down five key principles that aim to empower clients, workers, design teams and contractors in the construction and civil engineering projects to the following:

  • Design for reuse and cycling
    Reuse of land, building, materials recovery, demolition, specifying the recycled content in new buildings.
  • Design for waste-efficient procurement
    With the early co-ordinated involvement in projects, a clear communication thread defining responsibilities, clear documentation for waste reduction and waste production.
  • Design for materials optimisation
    By minimisation of excavations, standardisation of building materials and components.
  • Design for off-site construction
    The usage of off-site systems such as volumetric modular buildings, panellised modular buildings, timber frame, and steel frame panellised building. Also using off-site building elements such as bathroom and kitchen pods, building envelope components including composite panels for exterior walls and roofing.
  • Design for deconstruction and flexibility
    This specific principle should be adaptable and flexible in plan, detail, and structure. Moreover, to put in mind to a fixing regime to facilitate removal of components and specify durable materials to facilitate maximum reuse opportunities while avoiding use of resins, adhesives and coatings.

It’s been well-founded that the construction sector is struggling to keep their carbon footprints low, contributing to nearly a quarter of the global air pollution. Construction firms need to analyse their social responsibility and organisational purpose crucially before pursuing projects that impact the environment and society.

The power of building values

To tackle the mentioned above, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has developed a strategy for a sustainable built environment by highlighting five key areas, climate change, resource use, nature & biodiversity, health & well-being, and socio-economic impact. The UKGBC has set a vision to be fully implemented by 2027, that presses towards higher sustainability standards for the built environment. Everyone working in the construction field is held accountable for the economic, social and environmental impact, with the power to change, from an individual behavioural aspect up to a collective societal change. The ambitions for 2027 have been listed down to the following:

  • Raise awareness of sustainability among industry professionals.
  • Deepen engagement between industry professionals and UKGBC.
  • Support transformation and provide technical knowledge.
  • Influence the majority of the UK’s largest projects to demonstrate best practice.
  • Measure the sector’s year on year progress against tangible metrics.
  • Develop and maintain active UKGBC networks in all regions.

Our planet is facing changes by the minute, and mostly the damage is human-caused. Any activity being practiced without deep thinking of the impact threatens Earth, the lives of animals and people on it. The transition to sustainability is a tactic that requires the involvement of all human beings, aiming to live in harmony with the motherland and make the good influence outweigh the bad.

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