Surging Sustainability

Cement Sustainability Initiative Backs Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Concrete.

Cement Sustainability Initiative Backs Responsible Sourcing Scheme  for Concrete.Cement Sustainability Initiative Backs Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Concrete.

By Mark S. Kuhar

Industry representatives from both the cement and concrete sectors recently met in Medellín, Colombia, to initiate the development of a responsible sourcing scheme (RSS) for concrete. The meeting was held during the International Concrete Sustainability Conference organized by the Ibero-American Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (FIHP) and the National Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA).

A RSS provides qualitative information that identifies and promotes responsible practices throughout the concrete supply chain addressing both social and environmental impacts and benefits to the business. It is based on a set of agreed principles of sustainability, the precise scope of which being determined by stakeholder engagement.

The Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), operating under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), is partnering with organizations from the concrete sector in Europe, North and South America to develop this scheme.

The NRMCA, the European Concrete Platform (ECP), FIHP, the Inter-American Cement Federation (FICEM), and the Ibero-American Aggregates Association (Asogravas) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together in order to jointly develop and launch a global RSS for concrete, which will set common benchmarking performance measures in the concrete sector as well as for upstream suppliers.

The Portland Cement Association (PCA) and the European Aggregates Association (UEPG) also pledged their support to the development of this scheme.

“It is our joint intention to define by the end of 2014 the necessary conditions to deliver a responsible sourcing scheme for concrete, which will include working with a broad set of stakeholders to get this scheme adopted by the market,” said Philippe Fonta, managing director, CSI & TIP.

FIHP’s Executive Director Manuel Lascarro said it is very important “that we develop such a scheme together with our international partners in order to set clear internationally accepted criteria and get broad recognition in the market.”

“As the development of a global responsible sourcing scheme is taking place, the NRMCA and its members are proud to be participating as one of the principle parties. NRMCA’s work on a Sustainable Ready Mixed Concrete Plant and Product Category Rules for concrete have kept the industry on par with other construction materials,” stated Robert Garbini, president of NRMCA.

Globally Coordinated Scheme
For the European Concrete Platform, a globally coordinated scheme “will have the advantage of providing a single reference framework for adoption at the national level and provide an internationally accepted basis to substantiate claims for sustainable practices in the concrete sector,” said Jean-Paul Méric, ECP chairman.

FICEM Executive Director María José Garcia stressed that: “A responsible sourcing scheme for concrete will provide an opportunity also to the key suppliers, which is the cement industry, to profile in a credible way its sustainable practices. We are very pleased to participate in this important development.”

For Carlos Fernando Forero, director general of Asogravas, this scheme “gives us a credible platform to provide evidence on how the industry leads a process of continuous improvement to safeguard our natural environment and contribute to societal progress.”

Stefan van Uffelen, former director of the Dutch Green Building Council, has recently accepted the role as coordinator of the project. He shared his view that this is an ambitious project, but the coalition of partners has demonstrated commitments to deliver the targets as planned.
This year the partners will work on a set of performance measures related to environmental, social and economic aspects of the concrete production process and the supply chain, and they will engage with stakeholders to get input on how a robust and credible RSS for concrete should look like, while ensuring it is implementable by industry and will add value in the construction market.

Responsible Sourcing
Construction professionals are asking increasingly for transparent and reliable information on the responsible sourcing of building materials. This development is driven primarily by green building rating schemes, but increasingly builders are looking for information on materials whether they plan to certify a building or not.

In many aspects, sustainability has to be defined at the local level. On the other hand, most sustainability issues are relevant in any location around the world.

CSI developed Product Category Rules (PCR) for unreinforced concrete, the common methodology underlying the issuance of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). An EPD is a voluntary declaration that provides quantitative information about the environmental impact of a product, using life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology and verified by an independent third party. The CSI PCR is registered under the International EPD System for use by companies worldwide.

The CSI PCR is based on the ISO standard for EPD (ISO 14025:2006) and complies with the European standard for construction products, EN 15804:2012 that sets the core rules for EPDs for construction products. It also takes into account standard developments in other regions, particularly the U.S.

By using the same set of underlying standard across its operations globally, companies demonstrate enhanced credibility on product information. At the same time, the flexibility of the tool allows local adaptation to applicable laws and industry practice in different regions (e.g. treatment for allocation of slag), thus enhancing the applicability of the tool under different context, without jeopardizing the overall consistency of its methodological basis. F

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A Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Concrete

A responsible sourcing scheme (RSS) provides qualitative information that identifies and promotes responsible practices throughout the concrete supply chain addressing both social and environmental impacts of the business.

It is based on a set of agreed principles of sustainability, the precise scope of which is determined by stakeholder engagement. The CSI is currently identifying the main environmental and social criteria that should be included in the scope of such a system at global level.

Together, EPDs and RSS provide a complete look at the material and the company, providing reliable and transparent information to the construction market.

The first comprehensive label on the sourcing of a material was the Forest Stewardship Council’s FSC-label for the timber sector. Since then, more initiatives have started to certify materials on a range of sustainability criteria.

In the UK, BRE pioneered the development of a certification system for construction products, BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products. Producers can get third-party verification against the requirements of BES 6001 to substantiate their claims for responsible practices.

The NRMCA has developed a Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification scheme. It provides a quantitative metric to assess production practices; it is also subject to third-party verification.

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