The impact of construction materials companies on climate change tops the list of challenges for the sector.
Key challenges and opportunities
Vast amounts of energy and non-renewable resources are used in raw material production– the cement industry alone accounts for five per cent of all man-made CO2 emissions. Customers and some investors are demanding evidence of environmental performance – and signs of significant progress.
Infrastructure projects typically attract investors with a time horizon of decades rather than the next financial year, focussing attention on carbon strategy. There’s pressure from regulators, too, to achieve year-on-year emissions reductions. The challenge for construction materials companies is to make production processes more energy efficient to reduce carbon footprint while ensuring continued business growth.
Major players in building materials now operate on a global scale and serve a global market. But when working in developing economies, and expanding operations through acquisition and joint venture, it can be challenging to achieve the consistent high standards expected of a global company.
Sustainable construction is no longer a leftfield issue; it’s near the top of the agenda of those behind many large-scale building projects. As the quest for carbon-neutral buildings continues, customers are looking for more sustainable construction materials. Progressive materials suppliers have responded with lower-impact products such as blended cements and recycled aggregate. For those who can be first to market with totally new materials and services, there are significant potential rewards.
- We helped ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel manufacturer, to develop its overall corporate responsibility programme. This included visiting sites worldwide to benchmark CR policies, practices and performance, devising a global CR strategy, and developing a company-wide network of CR activists to drive local action.
- Other clients in the construction materials sector include Holcim and Masco, and major procurers such as Bechtel.