Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr James Upstill-Goddard

Google Scholar


Towards a framework to enable construction small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to manage sustainability (CLOSED ACCESS)

Project Title

Sustainability Certification for Construction Companies and Products


Responsible Solutions 


Professor Jacqueline Glass
Professor Andrew Dainty

Mr Ian Nicholson

Director of Research:
Prof Stephen Ison

Research Period

2011 - 2015

Sustainability Certification for Construction Companies and Products

Context and Background

Responsible Solutions is an environmental consultancy based in Loughborough. Established in 2003, the company offers bespoke services to a range of clients in the construction industry, manufacturing and other sectors. They focus on improving environmental performance and helping companies comply with specific standards, such as ISO 14001, Site Waste Management Plans and BES 6001. Responsible Solutions also offers a range of specialist services including environmental training, carbon footprinting, sustainability strategy development and advice on responsible sourcing. It has recently launched a training tool for SMEs on responsible sourcing, which was developed in collaboration with Loughborough University The company has a track record of collaborating on research, including projects on responsible sourcing, construction waste minimisation. Staff also provide technical leadership to CEEQUAL, the assessment and awards scheme for improving sustainability in civil engineering and are active on several influential industry and professional committees such as the ICE's Environment and Sustainability Panel and B/558 (the standards committee for Sustainability in Construction). Current state-of-the-art The UK construction industry has a robust series of targets around sustainability as set out in the 2008. Strategy for Sustainable Construction, which covers waste, resource use, water and energy consumption. Within this, the consumption of construction materials and products features prominently but a number of forthcoming changes in the regulatory and procurement landscape are set to put additional pressure on materials producers and specifiers to make more sustainable choices; these include:  From 2012, all life-cycle assessments will need to comply with EN15804.  From 2013, all construction products will be required to carry CE marking.  By 2015, 100% of construction materials specified by the major contractors will be procured through responsible sourcing scheme such as BES 6001. As a result, many construction companies will require new consultancy services and products to help them understand and achieve certification. Responsible Solutions is already active in this marketplace and is seeking to ensure its continued success by engaging a Research Engineer to produce innovative research on sustainability certification that will guide its forward strategy, tools and products for its construction industry clients (e.g. contractors and product manufacturers).

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of this EngD research project is to consolidate an evidence base and challenge the current praxis of sustainability certification in construction. The specific objectives of the project are likely to involve: 

  • Understanding current sustainability assessment methods, standards and certification schemes as they apply to construction products. 
  • Undertaking a gap analysis of environmental consultancy services available in the UK. 
  • Defining future industry needs to comply with forthcoming standards and codes, arising from the UK and Europe. 
  • Developing new services and tools for the business to use with its clients, focussing particularly on how to deliver improvements within SME's without resorting to traditional, costly consultancy assignments. 
  • Establishing new ways of enabling construction firms to integrate sustainability policies and processes within overall corporate, business and reporting strategies. 
  • Making recommendations on future strategy, skills and directions for the sponsoring company in respect of ongoing sustainability certification for construction companies and products.

Method and Current Status

We envisage that a range of research methods will be used during this EngD, which may include: Literature review and content analysis of key academic and professional articles and company reports.  Surveys and interviews with staff from construction companies (such as materials suppliers, designers, clients and contractors), certification authorities and assurance providers.  Futures methods such as scenario planning and workshops to define future needs and directions.  Case studies involving collection and manipulation of life-cycle assessment/EPD information and data.

Benefits and Expected Outcomes

Responsible Solutions expects that this research will help develop and deliver new commercial services and tools that it can use to help companies improve their environmental and sustainability performance. The university anticipates that the project will produce a number of influential academic papers that will help define the research agenda for this subject area. The Research Engineer will personally benefit from a high degree of industry exposure throughout the project, via participation in meetings with Responsible Solution's clients and business partners, such as major contractors, professional institutions and industry advisory bodies. They will gain extensive and practical knowledge of implementing sustainability in construction organisations, plus an understanding of how environmental consultants operate. They will also receive any specific training that the project requires, such as becoming an approved assessor or help working towards chartership of a relevant professional body.

Upstill-Goddard, J., J. Glass, A. R. J. Dainty & I. Nicholson (2013). Characterising the relationship between responsible sourcing and organisational reputation in construction firms. In: Proceedings of the Sustainable Building and Construction Conference, Coventry, 3-5 July 2013, 215-244.

Upstill-Goddard, J., J. Glass, A. R. J. Dainty & I. Nicholson (2012). Integrating responsible sourcing in the construction supply chain. In: Smith, S. (2012) (ed). Proceedings of the 28th Annual ARCOM Conference, Edinburgh, 3-5 September 2012, 1311-1319.



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