Sustainable Construction Companies Win More Business

Sustainable Construction Companies Win More Business

More and more organisations are integrating sustainability principles into their businesses and if you are a supplier to them then your own sustainability credentials could win or lose you a tender as part of their supply chain.  Find out how you can make your business more sustainable in this blog.

Awareness of how we impact the environment has grown exponentially in the last decade. Extreme weather patterns – heatwaves, forest fires, hurricanes, flooding, melting glaciers – make climate change impossible to deny.

As the UK prepares to host COP26 (the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference) this October, we find ourselves at a truly pivotal moment in history. Economies must recover from the impact of the pandemic. The climate emergency dictates the way back must be greener. A new era is on the horizon; ‘net zero’ and sustainability are now the words on everyone’s lips.

Standards for Commissioners and Specifiers

Increasingly, sustainability is becoming a required aspect of a tender for many contracts. While price is still vital, for some public sector tenders, sustainability can count for as much as 40% of the weighting. It can even help your business avoid being red flagged and losing out on work.

Through the Climate Change Act 2019, the UK government has committed to achieving net zero by 2050. Contractors looking to pick up UK government contracts worth more than £5 million a year will also need to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  And even if you are a subcontractor, you can bet that the Tier one contractors will be looking for evidence of sustainability throughout their supply chain.

In construction, there are several ways to make projects more sustainable. These include:

  • Choosing renewable energy
  • Committing to environmentally conscious building design
  • Use of sustainable materials
  • Use of prefabricated materials
  • Responsible waste disposal
  • Understanding the circular economy
  • Whole-life costing
  • Supporting the local economy

It is worth noting, data shows that green buildings command a 7% increase in value compared with traditional buildings.

Ultimately, sustainability is about future-proofing your organisation. If you’re not a sustainable business, your reputation, customer service, staff engagement, partnering opportunities and supply chain could all be at risk.

So, the burning question is how do you make your business more sustainable so that you can win your fair share of public sector and green construction projects? To better understand the issues of sustainability, The Supply Chain Sustainability School offers FREE training to everybody working in the Construction, Facilities Management (FM), Homes and Infrastructure sectors who work in England, Scotland and Wales.

So, what is a sustainable business?

“Sustainability”, as a term, broadly refers to doing better in areas like natural resources overexploitation, manufacturing operations (energy use and polluting biproducts), consumption of products, investments, people’s lifestyle, consumer purchasing behaviours, and technological developments, as well as business and general institutional behaviours.

The three main pillars of sustainability are:

  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Economic

How can a business demonstrate its credentials in each?


The climate change threat we face today has largely been caused by industrial practices. Every company now has a responsibility to consider how their business decisions will impact future generations.

There are lots of ways a construction business can demonstrate environmentally friendly credentials, from going paperless in the office, recycling and the disposal of waste, and choosing sustainable resources and renewable energy sources, to partnering with other eco-friendly businesses in the supply chain.

Examples extend to the types of vehicles a business uses, and even efficient route planning – these all make a difference. Having a strategy for sustainable construction, an environmental policy, supporting environmental initiatives, and raising awareness in the local community are ways a business can endorse and publicise their green credentials.

In the UK, the built environment currently accounts for around 33% of the UK’s carbon emissions, so sustainability is vital. This involves a focus on energy-efficient buildings for the future, retrofitting and reducing environmental impact during construction.

Offsite modular construction will feature more in the future as a sustainable construction option. BREEAM rated and Passive House developments will also become more attractive to buyers.


Construction workers building a wall sustainably

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s essential. And it’s no longer the domain of big corporates either – small businesses are getting on board too. Whatever the size of a business, demonstrating social value creates traction with customers and leans favourably when tendering for contracts. Consumers and employees will be looking at your CSR commitment too.

If you are keen to be a sub-contractor or supplier to the public sector or a major project where CSR matters, then think through what practical steps you can take.  You can for example partner with a charity or other local non-profit organisation to provide skills-based volunteering – perhaps a community project for example.  Allowing employees paid time off to participate is a great example of your commitment – perhaps for a day a year.

Community outreach and becoming involved in local initiatives either as sponsors or fundraising is another great example.


Economic sustainability in construction refers to practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, and cultural aspects of the community. It means using resources efficiently and responsibly in a sustainable way to make a profit.

If you are tendering for a local contract then think through what your company does for the local economy.  If you are a local company employing local people where the project is, then this is a big tick.  You may also employ apprentices and what about supporting local training colleges or visiting school career fairs to promote working in your trade?

Why Sustainable Companies Win More Business

A Raconteur report on the new sustainability advantage – “sustainability has moved from being something tucked away in a corner, separate from mainstream business, to being advantageous and embedded at the business core, both strategically and operationally.”

This applies to all sectors but is particularly relevant in construction due to the long lifecycle of buildings which impact surroundings and the people who dwell in them.

So why do sustainable companies win more business?

The Power of Consumers

A recent study by Deloitte found:

“Sustainability remains a key consideration for consumers in 2021 with 32% of consumers highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.”

Forbes also report:

“Over the last five years, consumers have exhibited a strong shift in preferences for more sustainable products. They want companies to use more recycled materials, move away from fossil fuels and reconsider their roles as stewards of the resources they use. Everyone … is subject to this scrutiny.”

Whether you are engaged with the idea of sustainability or not, your customers are. It would be perilous in business to ignore this fact.

The Power of Employees

Let’s not forget that consumers are also employees.

Millennials – people born between 1981 and 1996 – are more eco-conscious than ever and want to work for companies that are socially responsible and sustainable. (Incidentally, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025).

Businesses will need to upskill employees for green technologies. This too is welcomed by many. Reuters reports that, 63% of employees expressed the desire to learn more green skills so that they can become more valuable in the workplace.

Attracting top talent is another good reason to take sustainability seriously.

Post-Pandemic Recovery

As governments across the globe put their post-pandemic recovery plans into action, we will witness an emphasis on low carbon initiatives. Research by McKinsey shows that a that a low-carbon recovery could not only significantly reduce emissions, but also create more jobs and economic growth.

The UK government’s strategy for sustainable construction has already called on the industry to reduce emissions by 50%, reduce costs by 33%, and build twice as fast.

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