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Loughborough-led Manifesto calls for more ethical sourcing in construction

Professor Jacqueline Glass. Image by Nick Rawle www.nickrphotography.com

A Loughborough University professor is leading a national call for more ethical sourcing within the construction industry.

The UK construction industry consumes enormous amounts of materials, but only one – wood – is currently protected by legislation.

Professor Jacqueline Glass from Loughborough University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering says workers throughout the industry should know where their materials come from, and ensure they are sourcing responsibly.   

Following the recent launch of a new Design Guide, a ground-breaking UK Manifesto for Ethical Sourcing in Construction is being officially unveiled at the fifth Action Programme for Responsible Sourcing conference in London on November 24.

The Manifesto was co-created earlier this year in one of the first-ever industry applications of a Hackathon coordinated by Loughborough University’s Action Programme on Responsible Sourcing (APRES), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council(EPSRC).

The Hackathon involved two Cohorts – ‘Construction’ (formed from clients, contractors, designers, manufacturers, suppliers and organisations including British Land, Crossrail, Marks & Spencer, Skanska, and CIRIA) and ‘Critical Friends’ (a deliberately diverse and challenging range of expertise and experience in transparency and traceability, supply chains and ethics including participants in areas aligned to property and construction and contributors from fashion, food and consumer retail). The official draft was agreed at the Royal Academy of Engineering, London.

The Manifesto broadens the industry's area of accountability beyond “responsible” sourcing and procurement, which deals mainly with environmental and sustainability issues, into the fair and ethical treatment of labour and sub-contractors.

APRES lead Professor Glass said:  “The construction industry is rightly being called upon to take a stand and articulate its position on ethical sourcing, which is why we’ve launched this Manifesto.

“The Manifesto is designed to be provocative and we want to see people react to it, whether that’s challenging what it says or questioning their own practises.  

“Ethical sourcing is simply too large for any one organisation to tackle alone. Collaboration is key and a sector-wide response vital.

“It’s crucial everyone in the sector is aware of the importance of ethical sourcing and the reputational damage that can be done if you fail to source responsibly.”

Earlier this year APRES received £124k funding from the EPSRC to develop AESOP: An Ethical and Social responsibility Portfolio for construction professionals.

AESOP brings together a broad mix of inputs from leading commercial organisations and academic institutions within construction and beyond.

View the Manifesto and Designer's Guide online.