Construction firms say ‘go green’

08/05/2009 Return to news archive

In a shrinking market where competition is fierce, new research shows that 95 per cent of the UK’s large construction firms will give preference to subcontractors who can prove their green credentials.

The research, from, shows that during a time of oversupply, firms with a turnover in excess of £10 million will increasingly use a subcontractor’s environmental credentials as a key factor in deciding how to award contracts.

The results also highlight that 87 per cent of these firms have more confidence in subcontractors with proven green credentials: 76 per cent of them citing a reduced risk of prosecution. In addition, 56 per cent of respondents think green policies will save subcontractors money – a welcome bonus in these tough economic times. A staggering 93 per cent of construction industry bosses also think that proof of environmental responsibility will move up their firm’s agenda over the next two years.

In response, the free environmental legislation guidance website, has launched a campaign to help smaller construction firms understand the importance of environmental compliance, and to highlight the opportunities that going green can offer. It has also developed an 8-point checklist to give subcontractors the best possible chance of winning business in a competitive tender.

Stuart Rowe, Contracts Executive at Ellmer Construction comments: 'As a large construction firm, we have our own set of robust green policies in place and provide environmental training for workers. However, it is essential for subcontractors to understand the value of having their own environmental policies rather than relying on the principal contractor. This gives them an added advantage in a competitive tender and saves them money. With environmental issues becoming ever more important we would encourage all subcontractors to harness the power of going green.'

Shifting responsibility

When asked who should be responsible for making environmental improvements in construction businesses, alarmingly only 13 per cent of respondents felt that the firms themselves should be responsible. Most laid responsibility at the door of central government (30 per cent) or government organisations (19 per cent).

Government is determined to improve the construction industry’s environmental performance by introducing sensible legislation. However, ultimately responsibility lies with the individuals in firms working on construction projects, and they cannot pass the buck.

We can all make a difference through minimising waste and encouraging others to do the same. already offers a free Simple Guide to Site Waste Management Plans, which has been downloaded more than 40,000 times.