The UK Concrete Industry:
Sustainable Construction Strategy

Guy Thompson

The UK concrete industry is making determined efforts towards reducing the environmental impacts commonly associated with the material as evidenced by  the publication of the Concrete Industry Performance Report published annually since 2009 following the pan Industry Strategy signed in 2008 representing the 10 contributing sectors. Guy Thompson of 'The Concrete Centre' looks at the key points

History of The Strategy

In 2008, the UK concrete industry committed to the Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy. This commitment was made by manufacturers and sector associations from the aggregate, cement, GGBS, fly ash, admixtures, ready-mixed and precast sectors, with support from the industry body MPA The Concrete Centre.

Seven performance reports have been published and are testament to achieving a common framework of industry-wide reporting and an ambition of continuous improvement. Communicating and educating our colleagues and customers was also a key strategic objective.

The training, events and new guidance delivered by The Concrete Centre  are essential in enabling the design of a more sustainable built environment using concrete.

In 2014, the seventh report presented the industry's performance from 2008 to 2013. This report presents the concrete industry’s sustainability performance in 2013. The data covers the manufacture of concrete and its constituent materials. The information is collected through survey responses from companies supplying an estimated 80% of concrete used in the UK.

As the UK construction industry’s approach to sustainability develops, our industry strategy needs to stay ahead of supply chain requirements. In 2012, an updated Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy was launched together with 2020 commitments. 


Commitments to 2020

The overall theme of the extended strategy is a widening of focus from the sustainability of concrete production to the contribution concrete can make to a sustainable built environment.

With construction industry milestones in 2016, 2020, 2050 and beyond, our commitments and detailed success factors based on our current assessment of technology and the market conditions over that period are set out below;

Contribute to the delivery of a zero carbon built environment

We will continue to develop and publish best practice case studies and guidance on achieving low carbon buildings using concrete and masonry.

We will provide information to support the use of BIM tools.

We will monitor the development of sustainability metrics and data requirements to enable the assessment of low carbon buildings in concrete and masonry.

Provide Life Cycle Assessment data compliant with codes and standards

We will ensure that industry boundaries, data sources and collection methodologies are transparent and support the production of credible generic EPDs.

We will provide embodied carbon values for product and building calculators.

We will engage with relevant institutions and associations to exchange information to support LCA data requirements.

Develop a Material and Resource Efficiency Programme to inform best practice across the life cycle of concrete in the built environment

We will continue to develop and publish best practice case studies and guidance on using recycled materials and recyclability of concrete. We will identify and promote best practice in designing for reuse. We will ensure that the industry’s production practices aligns with EU programmes for construction materials.

Develop a Low Carbon Freight Initiative to support improvement in transport performance through the concrete supply chain to construction sites

We will promote best practice low carbon freight initiatives and support innovation in the transport sector.

We will develop a measure, report and monitor performance of the industry’s transportation activities.

We will continue to refine data collection methods for measuring transport CO2 impacts.

Develop a Water Strategy to support the measurement and reporting of sustainability performance and target setting

We will develop a strategy for the resource efficient use of water within the concrete industry.

We will develop appropriate measurement methodologies consistent with the developing standards on product water foot-printing.

We will provide transparent and credible reporting and will set targets for performance improvement.

Target continuous improvement of sustainable production performance and report performance annually

We will continue to develop performance indicators to ensure the relevance of our reporting and framework for data collection.

We will set new targets for performance improvement including:

• 90% reduction in waste to landfill by 2020 (from 2008 baseline)
• 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from concrete production by 2020 (from 1990 baseline)
• 95% of production certified to responsible sourcing standard BES 6001 by 2020
• 100% of relevant production sites with action plans for site stewardship and biodiversity


REAPS (Resource Efficiency Action Plans)

The industry has commited to a Material and Resource Efficiency Programme and this process is already underway, as the concrete industry is working in partnership with WRAP to engage and carry out the commitments set out in the REAPs (Resource Efficiency Action Plans).

For an overview of Resource Efficiency Action Plans download here

To download the full REAP for Precast Concrete download here

To download the full REAP for Ready-Mixed Concrete download here

The concrete industry also provides best practice guidance on designing material efficient structures and designing to minimise waste on site. More information can be found in Material Efficiency available to download from the Concrete Centre Publications Library.


Further information

The Concrete Centre 

Specifying Sustainable Concrete
7th Industry Performance Report       


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