Ethics and environment standard is on the way

The Construction Products Association (CPA) is leading a move to develop a standard for responsible sourcing of materials that can be adopted by the various sectors of the industry.

Currently, only the timber industry, responding to concerns about the destruction of rainforests and the treatment of the indigenous peoples who live in them, have a system for identifying products from sustainable sources through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) set up 15 years ago. Products made of timber from responsibly managed sources carry the FSC logo.

The steel and cement sectors in particular are pushing for a standard and are already in the early stages of developing their schemes. They feel they are at a disadvantage in the Code for Sustainable Homes, BREEAM (the BRE\'s Environmental Assessment Method) and now the Olympic sustainability requirements, which has heightened interest in this matter.

At a pivotal meeting in February hosted by the Construction Products Association, construction product manufacturers came together to push forward the development of a framework standard that can be adopted by different sectors.

Responsible sourcing is a question of both environmental and ethical considerations as the two lobby groups are tending to merge.

The development of a responsible sourcing standard is moving quickly. The BRE are working on a framework that will probably be available in three months. In the same sort of timescale a British Standard Draught for Development is likely to be published with guidelines for writing responsible sourcing standards.

Any building product that cannot produce a standard could find itself at a considerable disadvantage.

Jane Thornback, Environmental Policy Advisor at the CPA, told NSS: "It\'s a societal change. We all want to know where things come from."