The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in Construction.

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What is corporate social responsibility?

To amplify their positive impact on the social and environmental systems in which they operate, it is important that companies develop coherent Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies. CSR strategies are the path towards having a more sustainable business as they cover both social and environmental impact, and human rights and ethics issues. 

People and businesses alike are making more conscious decisions when it comes to choosing which businesses to work with or purchase from. Their preferences are for businesses that are actively taking steps to both minimise the impact their operations have on people, society, and the environment; and increasing the positive outcomes that the business is responsible for.  

 

What is the importance of sustainability in construction?

The focus on CSR within the construction industry has significantly increased as businesses within this space are facing growing pressure to improve CSR strategies. Construction projects are not discreet or low-impact, and often have enormous short-term and long-term impacts on workers, local communities, and the natural environment.  

While CSR strategies are not a legal requirement for businesses, it is something which should be taken more seriously and can ultimately contribute to compliance and risk management. 

 The construction industry is one of the largest sectors in the world — employing approximately 7% of the global workforce — meaning there are millions of people who are affected by the working conditions of construction projects. Competitive pricing in the industry is also a main contributor to unreasonably long working hours and wage cuts, and the very nature of construction work leaves workers at a higher risk of injury and ill-health unless preventive measures are put in place. 

Additionally, the construction industry contributes to almost all types of pollution and is responsible for over 30% of the extraction of natural resources, as well as 25% of solid waste generated in the world. The use of project management technology, eco-friendly building materials and green manufacturing techniques are just a few of the ways in which the construction industry has made progress towards environmental and economic sustainability. 

 

What are examples of a company’s sustainability goals?

There are several ways in which your company can look to improving their impact within construction. Your CSR strategy will also vary from another business’s as it will depend on your business operations and your current impact. When developing a CSR strategy, it is essential that the strategy is well aligned with the company’s purpose, the values of the key stakeholders, and the needs of the communities in which the company operates. 

The primary areas of focus for the CSR strategies of construction companies include:  

  • Improve equality and diversity  
  • Ensure buildings and community spaces are well designed for the functionality of occupants  
  • Reduce carbon footprint 
  • Reduce waste in construction projects  
  • Providing a boost to biodiversity 
  • Support local communities 
  • Supporting and/or providing educational programs 
  • Implement responsible sourcing  
  • Reducing the risk of modern slavery or human rights abuses in the supply chain    
  • Improve the working conditions and remuneration for all employees  
  • Position CSR at the heart of the company’s culture 

 

What is the risk of a company not taking a sustainable approach?

Many companies view CSR as an integral part not only of their sustainability commitment and future-proofing their business, but also of their brand image, believing that customers will be more likely to purchase from brands that they perceive to be more ethical. A competitive advantage can also be secured by developing a good rapport with the community. In this sense, CSR activities can be a critical component of corporate public relations, further reducing costs as the result of better relationships with stakeholders and higher morale amongst employees.  

Fairview take our corporate social responsibility very seriously and operate on a ‘triple bottom line’. We are not just focused on profit, but also on the key areas of ‘people’ and ‘planet’ which is why we put so much due diligence into ensuring an ethical supply chain and a highly compliant business across all our practices, a strong focus on our staff and customers as people – with many initiatives in place to support key areas of development, wellbeing and engagement – and our investment in the environment with initiatives such as Ecoloop – our nation leading ACP recycling program.

There are many others within the construction industry who are stepping up with inspiring and innovative ideas to close the circularity loop. An example is Lendlease, who has tested an onsite maggot farm at Barangaroo, Sydney, as a low carbon and circular waste processing solution. Fraser’s Property Australia integrated more than 80 different salvaged products into the base building and fit-outs of Burwood Brickworks, the first shopping centre to achieve Living Building Challenge petal certification in April of this year.  

As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognising the need to act on sustainability. The emphasis being placed on sustainability and the circular economy, certainly within the construction industry, means that initiatives like Ecoloop are key in achieving corporate sustainability objectives and goals.  

The Ecoloop process ensures that the non-compliant ACP cladding removed from rectification and refurbishment projects is recycled and repurposed through Australia’s first ACP recycling facility, diverting 100% of cladding waste from landfill. 

By contacting Fairview at [email protected], you are showing your commitment to enhancing sustainability in the construction industry.  

Head to the Ecoloop webpage to find out more.