The movement towards sustainability - Nov 2016

Internationally, there is significant movement towards creating more sustainable buildings to reduce our environmental impact, increase social and economic benefits, and meet the needs of the future.

Sustainability in construction anticipates future risks and addresses a number of key factors upfront including:
- Reducing costs across the whole of a building’s life
- Efficiency using water, energy, materials and other resources
- Improving health, comfort and employee productivity

It is recognized that relative to other sectors, the built environment provides one of the most significant opportunities for substantial and rapid cost effective carbon emissions reductions. What do building/infrastructure developers do in going about delivering more sustainable buildings?

We need to:
- Up-skill their competence as a construction client on sustainability issues
- Establish a sustainability focus and implement sustainability principles at the very start of a project by using an integrated design approach
- Engage with sustainability professionals & understand the opportunity for building certification to ensure sustainability is delivered
- Develop and implement a business case and plan that addresses economic, social and environmental factors
- Engage with supply chain partners by setting targets for sustainable performance and include in tender documentation
- Encourage the use of environmental policies and certification schemes by supply chain partners to enhance traceability
- Engage the local community to encourage buy-in and by developing employment and training policies
- Considers the impact of the project on the local community from all sustainability dimensions

We as supply chain partners should be challenged to demonstrate our:
- Evidence of economic, social and environmental policies and performance on previous projects
- Proactivity in enabling clients to upskill their competence
- Commitment to engage with local communities and skills development

International research points to the fact that NZ is well placed in terms of Sustainable Procurement Policy in Government agency procurement. However, evidence suggests that there are implementation gaps and so all members of the supply chain should we working together to question just how sustainable is our procurement decision making.

As our capability develops at client level and takes a lead, be it government or private, the supply chain will follow and deliver on economic, social and environment objectives. Alternatively the supply chain can take the lead and assist their customers to include sustainable procurement decision criteria into their tenders.

We are hearing more about prefabricated housing recently, these innovations certainly are aimed at more sustainable outcomes in that sector.

In the broader sense, conventional on-site construction methods have long been criticized for low productivity, poor quality and safety records, long construction times and large quantities of waste and so with the increase in focus, we have the opportunity today to align our industry & business efforts and develop more sustainable value propositions for clients.

What does your sustainable construction value proposition look like?

Metals NZ continues to advocate for more strategic procurement from government agencies where whole of life costs are considered and more balanced decision criteria; economic, social and environmental objectives are used in supplier selection rather than be selected based on lowest price.

If you would like to discuss issues in your area of industry, please contact me at