APRES: Action Programme on REsponsible Sourcing

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Civil and Building Engineering

Abstract

The 'Action Programme on REsponsible Sourcing' (APRES) network will be a new community 'centre' for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of responsible sourcing practices in UK construction, forging new research ideas and relationships and providing guidance to the industry. Responsible sourcing (RS) is about taking a systematic approach to sustainability, i.e. by addressing a range of environmental, economic and social considerations. RS can be demonstrated by an organisation's procurement policy, via its purchasing decisions and practices, but to prove that such an 'ethical approach' is being taken, detailed information on the provenance of materials, products and services throughout the supply chain is needed. Integrating this within a broader framework of corporate sustainability has a direct and major effect on procurement, supply chain management, product manufacture and specification practices, but can also lead to innovation through new, low impact products or services. In the UK, the construction industry needs to reduce the sustainability impacts associated with the development of the built environment such as carbon emissions, water consumption and waste and in 2008, the government and industry set a series of targets, to help the UK become a world leader in sustainable construction. One of these is that, by 2012, 25% of products used in construction shall be from schemes recognised for 'responsible sourcing' (about 10bn, or 5% of the UK's manufacturing output per annum). However, few suitable products or standards exist, and the industry's level of understanding of responsible sourcing is currently low. For this reason, a coordinated, business and research response on responsible sourcing is needed urgently so that more companies are able to participate in this emerging market and a new base of knowledge and research is formed. APRES is an academic-industry collaboration to develop an action programme for responsible sourcing in UK construction. It will provide an open forum to explore in depth the challenges, map the industry's skills and knowledge needs, define academic research and development directions, and identify and disseminate outcomes and best practice widely. The APRES network will use a series of activities to increase the productive interaction between members, both academic and industrial; anyone with an interest in responsible sourcing will be able to join. Regular quarterly meetings with core members will direct the project programme while open events will be attended by a broader audience. An online industry survey will be followed by one-day workshops; presentations, audience voting sessions and facilitated activities will address key context, markets, and technology challenges. Discussion and validation of the findings will result in an authoritative visioning report on the future of responsible sourcing. A range of dissemination routes will be used throughout to promote the work of the network and recruit new members, including a dedicated website and regular presence at academic and industry events. The construction industry and its supply chain, related government and advisory bodies will benefit most from the activities, discussions and outputs from APRES, but wider benefits would also be evident in improved environmental and working conditions in the UK and abroad. In the long term, through the use of more responsible sourcing practices, the industry will also witness lower environmental impacts, gain better credibility for its operations and achieve greater competitiveness in the emergent market for 'green' or sustainable construction, up to and beyind 2012.

Planned Impact

The APRES network on responsible sourcing will benefit the UK construction industry and its supply chain, both in the public and private sectors; this is a new network and nothing comparable yet exists. During the network's funded period, the industry will gain a deeper understanding of responsible sourcing practices, be able to share ideas openly, and influence new research directions, standards and policy. Demand-side users (i.e. architects, engineers, clients, and contractors, and their professional institutions) will be able to access information from a central hub, explore viable ways of improving their specification, procurement and construction practices and hear about best practice. Supply-side product manufacturers (and their trade associations) will be able to share knowledge, consider technical developments and new products and discuss their customers' needs with them, all in an open and neutral environment. In the medium to long term, the network will help the industry as a whole to increase its uptake of responsible sourcing; this will improve the environmental and social credentials of the industry, reducing its impacts, improving its overall credibility and enhancing competitiveness. Those managing responsible sourcing schemes and standards, such as sector scheme councils and standard-setting bodies (e.g. BRE, BSI and others), government departments with a remit for construction (e.g. BIS and OGC) and regional construction bodies will also benefit immediately. They will get direct access to industry for feedback and development purposes, be much better able to gauge how well industry is progressing towards the UK government's target of 25% of products used in construction being 'responsibly sourced' by 2012, and relate industry's needs to future policy direction. Environmental consultants and advisors will also benefit from being part of the network, giving them the chance to meet new clients, discuss and develop new services. Their offering to industry in the short-medium term will become more viable, timely and relevant by participating in APRES events. A wider group of beneficiaries includes the construction labour force and local populations, both in the UK and abroad, from which raw materials are sourced; these groups are likely to see a long-term improvement in working and environmental conditions, as responsible sourcing practices become more widespread. To ensure that all these parties benefit from the APRES network, invitations to join network and participate in its events will be disseminated widely through professional institutions, peer networks, trade associations and the media, in particular the construction press, environmental alerts and corporate social responsibility media. Anyone with an interest in responsible sourcing will be able to join and access material from the dedicated APRES website, which will act as the main hub for information release, supplemented by print media for the final visioning report. Our experience of managing networks means that we will be able to deliver an effective communications and recruitment strategy. However, it will also be incumbent on all network members to further promote the network and its outputs, such that the wider community can benefit; this will include distribution of calls for membership and participation to related UK and European networks.

Publications

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Glass J (2011) Briefing: Responsible sourcing of construction products in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability

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Upstill-Goddard J (2016) Implementing sustainability in small and medium-sized construction firms in Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

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Upstill-Goddard J (2015) Analysis of responsible sourcing performance in BES 6001 certificates in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability

 
Description "Do you know where your materials come from?" "Were they supplied by companies that take safety, environment protection and social responsibility seriously and can prove it?" These are the types of questions now being asked by construction companies and their clients in the UK, where an increasing number of commonly used products and materials are available with a 'responsible sourcing' certificate. Loughborough University's APRES project has created a network with a shared goal of understanding and promoting the idea of responsible sourcing in the construction industry.

Responsible sourcing is a means of ensuring that products come from suppliers that can demonstrate sustainability within their supply chains. It is about managing sustainability objectives throughout the life-cycle of a product, including key environmental, social and economic objectives. This is combined with auditing of the supply-chain of constituent materials, which is called traceability. It's easy to see a comparison with similar schemes in other sectors, like food and fashion, where there have been concerns for the environment, but also workers' welfare. Indeed, responsible sourcing is fundamentally about reducing risks in the supply-chain and, over the past three years, the APRES project has hosted numerous training sessions and conferences for designers, contractors and manufacturers, to help them understand how these risks could adversely affect their businesses and how such risks can be minimised or eliminated.

The construction industry in the UK has certainly been more alert to the idea of responsible sourcing since 2008, when a national performance target was published in the 'Strategy for Sustainable Construction' and a framework standard became available from BRE Global, against which products could be certified as being responsibly-sourced. Now, over 90% of all UK concrete production is available with a certificate, and more than 80 of these have been awarded to about 100 different material producers (including aggregates, plasterboard, brick and reinforcing steel). The certificates also count towards credits in popular sustainability assessment schemes such as BREEAM (the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and CEEQUAL (the Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Awards Scheme).

Yet a survey undertaken as part of APRES found that while many UK practitioners had heard of responsible sourcing, there was a lack of awareness of how to attain credits in building sustainability assessment tools. There was also an imbalance, with larger manufacturers and major contractors being well-informed and pro-active, but very few SMEs participating. The cost of certification was certainly a factor, but differences in the levels of interest shown by clients/customers were mainly to blame. To explore this in greater depth, a series of case studies (with manufacturers and contractors leading the field) revealed that a major driver for suppliers to pursue certification was perceived market advantage over competitors, almost independent of client 'pull'. As a result, responsible sourcing certification gives a supplier greater credibility and legitimacy, enhancing its brand over others that have not yet engaged and sought certification. While it is true that many, mostly large companies are now actively participating in seeking certification as an ongoing part of their sustainability and management standards auditing cycles, there remain some notable gaps in coverage and participation by certain actors in the project supply-chain, such as designers (architects and engineers). Specifiers are highly influential, yet under-informed and so APRES reached out to a number of design firms, which resulted in a useful dialogue around what they termed 'ethical specification'. It is relevant that subsequent follow-on funding was used to address this need, and publications are still progressing. The network is now hosted at BRE, and incorporates ethical sourcing and modern slavery, in response to the MSA which came into legislation in 2015.

Further information on the project can be found on the website.
Exploitation Route This project has been carried out with extensive industry cooperation and support from companies, mainly from the UK construction industry. It therefore has immediate relevance to materials specification choices for building and civil engineering projects. However, through the various events hosted through APRES, it has been possible to identify pathways to greater engagement in responsible sourcing that could also be of benefit to other sectors. For example, successful implementation involves: a well-publicized and verified case for responsible sourcing, consistency in the project procurement process, heightened stakeholder awareness and an ongoing evolution of related standards to respond positively to industry's changing needs as the agenda grows and matures. Other sectors can learn from the APRES project because we have been able to discover the key components which underpin the legitimacy of a responsible sourcing industry programme. It would be possible to take these findings forward in a range of ways, through action learning sets, organisational change projects, CPD programmes, contacting the PI and/or APRES members to request in-company presentations and advice.
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail

URL http://www.apres.bre.co.uk
 
Description APRES was a network project, so is a little limited in terms of findings. However, these have been well-disseminated to industry, practitioners and some policy makers and third sector organisations through conferences, trade fairs, websites, press and brochures. The findings have been influential in a number of ways. First, through direct engagement with companies by increasing understanding, and providing advice on policy and strategy, the findings of APRES have influenced the responsible procurement policies of contractors and the ethical/social audit criteria of clients. Secondly, the ongoing dialogue with standards bodies has enabled APRES to provide a direct input to revisions to responsible sourcing industry standards. In addition, there is evidence that, by dint of participation in the APRES network, some construction companies have reported using their enhanced knowledge and engagement with university research on responsible sourcing to secure new work. The follow-on funding of an EngD, a PhD and an impact project have been particularly worthwhile and enabled us to deliver more specific findings. Activities are still on-going, in collaboration with the BRE.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Construction,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description BRE PhD studentship top-up: Traceability in supply chains
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Building Research Establishment (BRE) 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Description EPSRC/Engineering Doctorate: Sustainability Certification for Construction Companies and Products
Amount £100,528 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2011 
End 09/2015
 
Description EPSRC/Impact Acceleration Account: An ethical sourcing portfolio for construction
Amount £124,278 (GBP)
Organisation Loughborough University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2014 
End 09/2015
 
Description BRE - APRES merger and legacy for the network's activities 
Organisation Building Research Establishment (BRE)
Department Sustainable Products and Materials
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The APRES 'brand' and reputation has significant value in the responsible sourcing subject, in the UK construction industry. The members it has attracted and the reputation it has for open, high-quality debate and pertinent and well-informed information has a value to BRE, which owns the only standard in the area, and certifies over 100 companies. Glass has collaborated with BRE to create a joint entity, such that APRES as a network has a legacy solution for the benefit of all those involved, and that BRE has access to a robust network of interested and active practitioners. It is a synergy developed over a number of years of informal collaboration, which culminated in late 2015 with a formal announcement of the 'transfer' of APRES to BRE. This was successfully concluded, and has been in place for over a year.
Collaborator Contribution As a result of the above, BRE agreed to: 1. Host the APRES website 2. Administer the APRES members' database and email newsletters 3. Organise and publicise the annual APRES conference 4. Help promote and promulgate the messages and content created through APRES to a wider industry audience, beyond the 350 already actively engaged. 5. Install the APRES PI (Glass) as the chair/convenor of the new network 6. Sustain and extend the senior industry liaison group to steer the development of activities
Impact The collaboration has already delivered a successful conference in November 2016, expanded the network's membership to almost 400, installed a new leadership group of senior industry personnel, and commissioned an innovative 'white paper' on responsible sourcing, which is in production and expected in summer 2017.
Start Year 2015
 
Description CIRIA RP1027 Minimising risk through responsible sourcing project 
Organisation CIRIA
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The CIRIA research project emanated from discussions in the APRES project, and Glass and colleagues pitched the idea to CIRIA successfully. The 100k funding that CIRIA needed to deliver the project would not have been won without the prior reputation of APRES and its existing other collaborators. PI Glass was invited to Chair the Steering Committee for the project, and took an active role in the development of the publication that aims to deliver advice on responsible sourcing to procurement professionals. It is currently in the production process, and is due out in June 2017.
Collaborator Contribution CIRIA instigated a research project and attracted around £100,000 of industry funding to support the work from a range of construction clients and contractors. CIRIA undertake the administration of the group, and will produce the publication at the end of the project. CIRIA are giving Glass a prestigious role in steering the project. The stakeholders who have invested in this specific collaboration are: 1. AECOM 2. Atlas Dynamics 3. BAM Construction Ltd 4. Berkeley Group Holdings plc 5. BRC Manufacturing 6. BRE 7. Carillion plc 8. Crossrail 9. Eco-Reinforcement 10. Environment Agency 11. Forterra Building Products 12. Gatwick Airport 13. Heathrow Airport Limited 14. Highways England 15. HS2 Ltd 16. Kier 17. Laing O'Rourke 18. Marshalls 19. Responsible Solutions 20. Sir Robert McAlpine 21. Skanska 22. Tata Steel 23. Thames Tideway Tunnel 24. Transport for London 25. UK CARES 26. Waterman Energy Environment & Design 27. Willmott Dixon Re-Thinking Limited
Impact The handbook (main output from the project) is due for publication launch in June 2017.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Supply Chain Sustainability School Horizon Group 
Organisation Supply Chain Sustainability School
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution On the basis of the reputation and impact gained during the APRES project, the PI was invited to act as Chair to the Horizon Group, which is a unique forum for industry and academics to influence and co-create future supply chain learning initatives within the construction industry. The PI was responsible for chairing the group from 2014-2017, which meets on a quarterly basis, and brings a group of 25 major contractors and leading universities together. The group was awarded a budget of £20k for 2015-16, which is the first time it has been given a resource from the School - this indicates the group's steadily increasing maturity and reputation. A further £30k funding was given to the group in 2016-17.
Collaborator Contribution The group was formed in mid-2014, so is still evolving. It has identified areas of collaborative opportunity, which are developing over time. A doctoral project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Horizon Group, which has attracted strong interest from major companies, and is still on going - a particular success was the follow-on collaboration with Crossrail and BFK, with whom we undertook a major data collection in 2016 and three publications arsing from this are currently in draft, and should be published during 2017.
Impact None to date, but a number are expected.
Start Year 2014
 
Description APRES CPD presentations and in-house training 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Glass (PI) has delivered around 30 CPD/professional training sessions around the UK since 2010. These have included:
1. CPD seminars for professional practitioners, including the RIBA, CIOB, ICE, and the IMMM.
2. In-house training for specific companies, including Anglian Water, David Morley Architects, Hawkins Brown, Make Architects, Saint Gobain, Sheppard Robson and Westom Williamson Architects.
3. Invited talks for other groups; e.g. BSI, Constructing Excellence, the Council for Aluminium in Building, the Hire Association, and the International Building Study Group.
4. Liaison with other university's estates and facilities managers and procurement teams, including the University of Manchester.
5. CPD themed day events, including Aggregate Industries Birmingham CPD Roadshow (2016).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description APRES Concrete industry magazine articles 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Glass (PI) has contributed to two articles on responsible sourcing, for Concrete, the magazine of the Concrete Society. This magazine goes out to 3,000 members in 60 countries, in 10 issues per annum.

1. Glass, J., Achour,N., Parry, T., Nicholson, I., and Upstill-Goddard, J. (2012) Responsible sourcing of construction products and materials: results of an industry survey, Concrete, February 2012, 46 (2), p.47-49.
2. Nicholson, I, and Glass, J. (2016) The importance of being ethical - a new dimension to responsible sourcing, Concrete, February 2016, 50 (1) p.38-39.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2016
 
Description APRES annual conference: 2011 to date 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Five industry conferences have been held, which have attracted a range of professional practitioners including public and private sector clients, designers, engineers, contractors, manufacturers and consultants. Each was well-publicised and attended; the 2015 event used a dedicated hashtag on the day, which achieved over 700,000 impressions on Twitter. The delegates have been typically middle to senior managers and the regularity of the APRES conference has helped to secure its reputation, which has been described as an open forum, with cross-sector and cross-supply chain representation. The now annual event attracts 60-100 delegates each time. Importantly, at the outset, the event was heavily subsidised through the grant, but for the last two years it has been entirely self-funding and sustainable, hence achieving the aims of a network activity. The 2014 and 2015 events were co-hosted by CIRIA, and from 2016 onwards, will be co-hosted by BRE. The APRES conference has therefore successfully transitioned from an academic-driven, publically subsidised event to an industry-led and financially sustainable conference, enabling us to build up a database of over 350 engaged stakeholders.

As a result of the conferences, it was possible to build up a database of about 150 key people in industry with an interest in responsible sourcing. Further interest has been sparked by making the presentations available on the website and issuing regular newsletters that have made others aware of the subject. Furthermore, after the EPSRC funding had ended, subsequent APRES conferences are being organised on an annual basis, on a financially independent footing, and in collaboration with a leadi
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://apres.bre.co.uk/events.php
 
Description APRES articles in national newspapers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Glass (PI) and the APRES project have been featured in two issues of the Raconteur supplement, which is a special issue, independent publication, produced in association with The Times and The Sunday Times. The two instances were:

1. 21 January 2014, p.13, in: McClelland, J., "UK poised for era of who cares wins?".
2. 14 June 2015, p.6, in: McClelland, J., "Collaboration means chains for the better".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://raconteur.net/
 
Description APRES blogs and articles for professional bodies 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to write and/or contribute to pieces for four professional institutions: the CIOB, ICE, IOM3, RIBA.

CIOB: Construction Manager: http://www.construction-manager.co.uk/management/opening-our-eyes-supply-chain-ethics/
ICE: https://www.ice.org.uk/news/knowledge/january-2016/manifest-for-ethical-sourcing-10-pledges-to-create
IOM3: http://www.iom3.org/materials-world-magazine/news/2015/may/03/10-minutes-%E2%80%A6-jacqueline-glass
RICS: Modus magazine: https://issuu.com/ricsmodus/docs/modus_janfeb16_onlinepdfs/33

There are two more pieces in production that I have contributed to which will be published in 2016, for CIOB and ICE.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description APRES panel sessions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Glass (PI) has been involved with a number of panel debates at major events focusing on responsible sourcing. These have included Ecobuild 2014, 2015 and 2017 (London) and Greenbuild 2014 and 2015 (Manchester). Also, a discussion panel at the Annual Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) conference in 2016, and chairing a panel for the Vision Show for architects and specifiers in June 2016 (with an invitation already in place for the 2017 show).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
 
Description APRES stakeholder workshops and hackathon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Glass (PI) has led five workshops which have involved me being invited in to discuss and engage people on the subject of responsible sourcing. These have been held with a range of organisations including Crossrail (Ethics in Supply Chains working group), the Crown Estate (Leadership Intelligence Design Community Workshop) and a specifically convened 'hackathon' held at the Royal Academy of Engineering, which was used to create an ethical manifesto for construction - this involved 30 different organisations and we are currently working with BRE to get companies to sign up to the 10 pledges. The link for the manifesto is shown below, as an example of the type of co-creation that is possible.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
URL http://apres.bre.co.uk/docs/Manifesto-Ethical-Sourcing.pdf
 
Description FT/Tarmac 2015 party political conference fringe events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Glass (PI) was invited by the Financial Times to join 'Constructing a more sustainable future' panel sessions as part of the fringe activities for three party political conferences in 2015. The events were sponsored by Tarmac. Glass was able to emphasise the importance of responsible sourcing to MPs, policy advisors, local authority representatives and others who attended the sessions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Invited presentation at Ecobuild 2017 Build Circular Theatre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited presentation on ethical sourcing for the circular economy, which was delivered to a mixed group of mainly industry and professionals. A number of requests for further information were received on the day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/agenda/build-circular