Developing a sector sustainability strategy for the UK precast concrete industry
2009-07-21T09:27:51Z (GMT) by
Sector sustainability strategies can provide industry sectors with a way of managing risks and opportunities, and contributing to sustainable development. The UK Government has encouraged their development in the construction industry. British Precast, as the trade association for the precast concrete industry in the UK, had undertaken to develop a sector sustainability strategy for that industry. However, the development of such strategies is a departure from the traditional role of the trade association and presented British Precast with a number of challenges. This EngD research programme was therefore established in order to address those challenges and facilitate progress towards a more sustainable precast industry. The research programme has followed a mixed method strategy of inquiry based on action research methodology, that is, a series of research cycles have been undertaken with the findings from each cycle being used to inform and guide subsequent cycles; archival analysis, survey and case study were the main research methods used. The requirement of the EngD programme to publish elements of the work in refereed journal and conference papers as the research progresses has allowed the research to be validated as scientifically satisfactory. The strategy development process combined best practice, current and emerging theory, original research, stakeholder engagement, and experience from other sectors and industries. The strategy was produced in the form of an action plan for British Precast. This plan differs from the sustainability strategies produced for other sectors of the construction products industry in that rather than simply promoting action on specific objectives, it provides British Precast with a means of engaging with the industry and its stakeholders, and facilitating progress towards a more sustainable precast industry. The action plan has been well received by the industry and its stakeholders, and there is clear evidence that it is helping to guide the business decisions of companies in the industry, and that progress towards a more sustainable precast industry is being achieved as a result. The research supporting the strategy development process has added to current knowledge and guidance on the development of sector sustainability strategies, but shown that there are limits to the influence trade associations can have over their members’ actions. It has also been shown that the development of management systems, particularly environmental management systems to ISO 14001, and continuous performance improvement cultures can assist companies in managing for sustainability, supporting the findings of other studies. However, further work is needed to build support for the action plan within the precast industry, particularly amongst SMEs, to support the downstream supply chain in using precast products to deliver more sustainable construction, and to assist companies in achieving progress towards corporate sustainability. Recommendations are made for this work.