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ESG In Construction

It’s no secret that construction seriously impacts our environment, contributing to substantial waste and emissions in the UK. This means that the industry has a significant role in environmental and social governance (ESG), and businesses are under increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices.  

Navigating ESG progress within construction can be challenging, as every project is different, and involves many suppliers, stakeholders, and companies. However, there are ways to integrate ESG in construction. Here are some tips to enhance efficiency while positively impacting both the environment and local communities. 

What is ESG in construction?

ESG stands for Environmental and Social Governance, and represents a set of standards used to measure and organisation’s impact on the environment and society.

The full scope of ESG covers climate change, supporting local communities, creating opportunities and enabling change. For the construction industry,  it involves transparency about your operations and activities, and how you intend to lessen your environmental impact. This can mean considering the materials used and how they’re sourced, reducing emissions, and establishing a safe working culture.

 

Why is it important in the construction industry?

ESG is more than just a tick-in-a-box activity- it ensures all businesses do their part. By embedding better environmental and social practices throughout your project, you can help:

    • Reduce your environmental impact – this can be done by minimising emissions from equipment and deliveries, switching to sustainable materials and sourcing supplies locally.
    • Increase efficiency – reducing energy consumption and, by extension, costs.
    • Enforcing and maintaining employee wellbeing standards – this also includes diversity and inclusion. 
    • Meeting consumer demand – with more pressure than ever on businesses to make a positive impact, aligning with ESG can also help boost your organisation’s reputation.

Help create environments designed for the future – such as designing and constructing energy-efficient buildings and investing in technology and machinery that uses renewable resources. According to the United Nations, buildings are responsible for around 40% of global energy consumption, meaning that this is one of the key areas in which the construction industry can really make a difference.

Construction worker refuelling with HVO

Challenges of implementing ESG practices

As mentioned, implementing ESG in the construction industry can be challenging. So many variables are involved, and the businesses throughout the construction sector all have their own processes and operations, leading to many inconsistencies in tracking and reporting. 

Some of the common challenges include:

  • Budgets – this is especially challenging if you’re working on a smaller site. Sourcing certain technologies and more natural materials can be more expensive than less sustainable supplies. This puts pressure on managers, especially as the Government’s sustainability guidance for the construction sector recommends investing in technology that helps design energy efficient buildings. But a budget is needed to sort this. 
  • Lack of training and awareness – an often neglected side of businesses, yet one of the most important. The more emphasis placed on maintaining health, well-being and sustainable standards, the more likely you are to meet targets. 
  • No consistent process for reporting – a typical construction project involves different teams and suppliers, all of which have their own processes. Regulations can also vary depending on the local area. This makes it harder to collect consistent data through the supply chain, so compliance becomes more challenging. 
  • A lot of change is required – ESG spans environmental and safety procedures, data collection, site materials and day-to-day work, to name a few. Embedding this governance into your project can take a lot of time – something many site managers don’t have. 

Integrating ESG through the construction industry

While these challenges can make implementing ESG strategies more challenging, there are ways to overcome them. While every project is different, and no two strategies will be the same, we’ve listed five ways you can integrate ESG throughout your construction business below. 

1. Decarbonisation

Reducing emissions is one key area in which contractors should align with ESG. Construction activity accounts for around 50m tonnes of CO2 emissions, so minimising your carbon footprint should be an integral part of your projects. 

Several mandatory regulations exist, including using AdBlue for EU Stage V equipment. However, there are still areas where businesses miss out, such as supply chains. 

In the construction industry, a supply chain stretches from people using your buildings all the way back to the manufacturers of the used materials,  where tracking emissions becomes complicated. But with supply chains creating more emissions than business operations, decarbonisation should be a priority for construction projects. 

At Western Global, we’re supporting the switch to cleaner fuels and supplying contractors with fuel tanks that can store HVO. This hydrotreated, sustainable fuel reduces emissions by up to 85%, and with all of our tanks designed to hold HVO, you can store it in bulk onsite and reduce frequent deliveries. We found that, if your site uses 1,000 gallons of fuel and has 5 fuel drops per week, storing fuel onsite and reducing deliveries to just one a week can save over 31 tons of CO2 a year. 

2. Reducing waste onsite

Construction creates around 60% of the waste, so minimising any excess and disposing of waste correctly is another key strategy for ESG for construction in the UK. A lot of this waste comes from demolition, excavation and leftover project materials. Employee welfare can also fall into this too for some sites, as, if there’s no mains connection, water bottles are used throughout your project. 

Storing water onsite comes with its challenges. The HSE states that water must always be provided, but it must also stay fresh and free of contaminants. Water bottles are usually the default in this situation – but they add to your project’s waste pile. 

Using water bowsers instead means having 24/7 access to clean drinking water, even without no mains water connection. Your water stays fresh and can be towed around the site when needed,  even on bumpy or uneven terrain. There will be no more plastic water bottles onsite. 

If you also rely on Western Global for fuel storage, then know we’re actively working to reduce waste in our own manufacturing processes as well as yours. Our products minimise packaging – even when renting our tanks through our partners. This doesn’t come at the expense of your fuel, water or DEF though – our tanks are 110% secure, meaning your fuel is protected from contamination and less likely to expire before the expiration date, reducing chemical waste. 

3. Complying with approvals and standards

Environmental and safety compliance adds an element of accountability to your ESG construction strategy, ensuring you’re doing what you can and making a difference. Think of it as ‘governing’ your performance on both a national and local level. This can mean GHG reporting – including tracking your reduced emissions in Scope 3 – and complying with local Clean Air Zones. 

Of course, you should already be following a number of mandatory health and safety standards, such as the Equality Act, Health and Safety At Work Act, and Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, as well as fuel storage regulations like UL 142 and IBC. Our fuel tanks meet a variety of international approvals & standards, allowing you to store, transport and dispense fuel knowing that you’re fully compliant.

These standards can be embedded into your own contracts. Incorporating ESG measures this way can help with tracking and reporting and hold everyone in your project accountable. It’ll also help ensure that you bring all-important training and awareness back to the forefront of your business. 

Switching to HVO fuel has never been easier, HVO is a direct drop in for diesel. GBF discuss why they choose Western Global tanks to store HVO for their customers. Find out more. 

4. Building awareness of your goals

Following on from holding everyone accountable – ESG doesn’t just fall on your shoulders. All employees and stakeholders should be involved in all three pillars, from sustainability and social responsibility to maintaining health and safety standards. 

Creating a safety culture brings a number of benefits to your business – more than just meeting ESG construction requirements:

    • Establish better safety procedures – this means fewer injuries and illnesses onsite, and increased productivity and efficiency.
    • Saving costs – if everyone is aware of your goals and  involved in your safety culture, it’ll become easier to meet targets, stay within budget, and complete projects on time.
    • Complying with regulations – everyone has taken the right steps to keep everyone safe while on the job. 
    • A cleaner, healthier working environment – especially when working in small or muddy and dusty sites, which can affect your teams’ health and equipment conditions. 

You should also make employees aware of your sustainability strategy. Greening your business is an ongoing process and should be a group effort, with everyone doing their bit. Adding a green element to your working environment also helps maintain that standard. You’re future proofing your workforce, aligning your business with consumer demand and meeting environmental compliance – ticking all the boxes. 

5. Engagement at a local level

Working in construction means working in many different environments. And it’s important to protect those environments and make sure you’re not causing more harm than good. 

The first step is protecting and encouraging biodiversity, which can mean reducing spills and leaks from hazardous materials. Our fuel tanks help with this, whether you’re storing fuel or AdBlue onsite. With our bunded fuel tanks, we’ve prevented over 100 million litres of fuel from leaking. The inner hatch and tank is removable for easy maintenance, helping remove the stress from inspections and implement safer refuelling processes. 

Our water bowsers can take your environmental credentials that extra step further. Opt for our accessories,  and you can spray equipment and dusty sites clean in seconds. You can also use any leftover water for plants, too. 

Local engagement also applies to the community. This means following local regulations and liaising with local businesses and residents over any concerns they have regarding your construction works. Your project might disrupt their day, or they may feel you’re damaging the local scenery. Showing that you’re aware of everyone’s concerns and trying to minimise disruption can help create better relationships with your working area and improve towns and cities in more ways than one.

 

Responsible refuelling

At Western Global, we prioritise ESG  in our business – and we’re helping our customers do the same. Our latest ESG report goes into detail about the steps we’re taking to minimise our impact on the environment and create a better working environment for our teams in the UK and globally.  

From paving the way for cleaner fuel storage to supporting humanitarian efforts, we’re looking beyond our fuel tanks and ensuring the differences we make touch all corners of our business. 

We design storage tanks that keep your employees and sites safe, reducing emissions and downtime, and ensuring quick project completion. Explore our fuel tanks here or get in touch to find out more.

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