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How Serious Are You About Net Zero?

Mar 29, 2024 | News, Sustainability

Recently we had the pleasure of presenting at Scottish Water’s Net Zero Heroes event. A quarterly meeting of like-minded individuals to progress the journey to net zero for Scottish Water and their supply chain.

It was refreshing to hear perspectives from different stages in the supply chain, all with very different solutions to offer.

Cross-sector collaboration like this is the only way to reach our targets as much of our emissions, particularly scope 3, fall out with our direct control.

Below we have summarised the key take aways from our presentation that will help fast track your journey to net zero:

Early Engagement

In order to shift focus from low cost to low carbon, current paradigms need to be reconsidered. The conception and design stages are particularly impactful and set the trajectory for the focus and impact of the work.

It takes time to come up with new solutions and source alternative materials. Early engagement allows everyone involved to find the best contractors and solutions possible, which coincidently often results in efficiencies and cost savings as a by-product to focussing on reducing environmental impact.

Open Communication Throughout the Supply Chain

We often have passionate project owners reach out to work with us as a sustainable resource management specialist, the trouble is… we already service their sites! Due to the tiered nature of the supply chain the good work they’re already achieving on their project isn’t being recorded. Sub-contractors may often be already making sustainable choices when it comes to sustainable resource management, but without clear communication from project owners and main contractors on how imperative this information is for the project, the value created is lost.

Top-down standards and targets need to be communicated clearly. Bottom-up, suppliers have a responsibility to provide verified environmental impact data for their materials, such as an EPD, that sub-contractors can pass on up to show they’re adhering to the standards set by the project owner.


They’ve been around since the 80s and are finally coming into their own. They are one of the only carbon benchmarking tools for products and should always be requested and used to determine the environmental impact of a material.

EPDs are a benchmarking tool that are based on a meticulous life cycle assessment (LCA) of a products production process to assess its impact and reduce it to an easy to compare carbon impact figure. These are particularly useful for buyers to select the most sustainable materials and for sustainability reporting.

New to EPDs? Find out everything you need to know about the basics and how to use EPDs in the linked blogs.

Recycled/Secondary as Default 

A very simple change to the specifications for projects is to change from using virgin materials as a default to recycled/secondary materials wherever possible. Furthermore, for materials like recycled aggregates where supply availability is not an issue, their specification should be mandatory. Likewise with waste disposal – recycling needs to become our default and the de facto bottom tier of the waste hierarchy.

Use the Appropiate Value Product in the Appropriate Application

Time and time again, out of habit or due to outdated information, structural grade virgin aggregates are used in non-structural applications. For example, crushed hard rock used in basic applications such as pipe bedding, when a washed recycled gravel would be more appropriate.

There are very few unbound applications where washed recycled aggregates cannot be used.  In bound applications, such as ready-mix concrete, existing standards allow complete replacement for virgin aggregates in non-structural mixes and supplementation to certain percentages in structural mixes.

Net Zero will become much more achievable when we work together and prioritise low carbon over low cost. It’s actually surprising how often the two go hand-in-hand. We all hold different pieces of the puzzle, and you may even find out your projects are closer to net zero than you thought when there is complete visibility on the materials used and subcontracts are not compartmentalised out of sight.

To start reducing your carbon, get in touch with our team to find out more.

📞 01506 431 321

📧 Sales: [email protected]

📧 Sustainability: [email protected]