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Image Courtesy Willmott Dixon

BRE launched the first BES 6001 Framework Standard for Responsible Sourcing (BES 6001) in October 2008 to meet industry and Government demand for a multi-sector and authoritative third party certified responsible sourcing scheme.

The standard specifies requirements for organisational management, supply chain management and management of sustainability issues in order to allow an organisation to demonstrate an on-going commitment to the principles of responsible sourcing in relation to the provision of a specific construction product.

The assessment process mapped both Sir Robert McAlpine and Wilmott Dixon against the requirements of BES 6001. It is important to note that the aim of the assessment was not to provide Sir Robert McAlpine and Wilmott Dixon with final performance ratings (pass, good etc.) or as a means to allow for a comparison of overall performance.

The contractors were required to map their organisation’s policies and approaches to responsible sourcing against the criteria as set out in BES 6001. The mapping exercise followed the evidence submission and review processes required for certification.

The findings from the review showed that an organisation’s approach to responsible sourcing cannot be directly assessed according to the criteria as set out in BES 6001.

Significant aspects of the current framework standard, namely those criteria that relate specifically to organisational requirements may be used to directly assess a contractor’ responsible sourcing principles and practices.

It is important to note that where it was possible to assess Sir Robert McAlpine and Wilmott Dixon against the existing organisational requirements the results were very similar. Both contractors performed very well and in many areas succeeded in achieving higher ‘performance ratings’ than those required for minimum compliance.

There are a number of areas where the satisfactory completion of compulsory criteria in BES 6001 could not be achieved. This is because the requirements relate specifically to individual product manufacture. This is especially evident in section 3.3 Supply Chain Management Requirements. These requirements are product specific and require traceability of constituent materials and due to contractor’s multi-project operations all of which are bespoke, highly complex supply chains and procurement practices, the criteria cannot be applied at an organisational level.

As individual projects have unique supply chains with high levels of suppliers, being able to track all materials is simply not possible. Both organisations take a risk based approach to identify key materials and products to focus on both from their individual values and those of the client in question.

It is suggested that it would be more feasible (albeit challenging to achieve) to apply a similar approach to BES 6001 for traceability of constituent materials to construction materials and products at the individual project level. There could therefore be a potential Responsible Sourcing certification for projects either as a standalone activity or as part of a BREEAM assessment.

Shamir Ghumra
About the Author
Director of Sustainable Products BRE

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