Developing a sustainability assessment framework for ready-mixed concrete
thesisposted on 18.04.2013, 08:41 by Shamir Ghumra
Assessing the sustainability of construction products can help to identify particular characteristics and benefits which can then assist decision makers by allowing comparisons between products. Existing mechanisms and tools to make such assessments are associated to project-level assessments or have a bias towards environmental issues, rather than incorporating social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainability. The growing popularity of sustainability rating schemes and standards has created an imbalance for product manufacturers that are increasingly seeking ways to gain competitive advantage on the basis of producing more sustainable products. Aggregate Industries, a construction products manufacturer and the Building Research Establishment (BRE) therefore instigated this Engineering Doctorate (EngD) to address this lack of a holistic sustainability assessment methodology for construction products for manufacturers. The EngD research developed a sustainability assessment framework for ready-mixed concrete. The development of the framework was influenced by existing assessment schemes such as the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and Ceequal (The Sustainability Assessment Scheme for Civil Engineering projects). The BRE BES 6001 Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products was also a factor in this research complimented by primary research. The assessment framework addresses a range of sustainability issues such as community engagement (social), waste (environmental) and whole life cost (economic) amongst others tailored to ready-mixed concrete. These issues are assessed against three product life cycle stages; raw materials; manufacture and use. The outputs of the framework will then inform the manufacturer about areas for improvement and present a profile of each product for a given manufacturing site in a more holistic way than current methods allow. The trialling of the assessment framework both in the UK and Canada has shown that the output of the EngD is a viable mechanism to assess the sustainability of concrete from a manufacturer s perspective. This research has given Aggregate Industries an opportunity to evaluate current objectives and targets within the business and helped to shape the future sustainability strategy. Aspects of the framework are also being considered for inclusion in the future development of the BRE s BES 6001 Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products. This EngD has also identified an emergent need for a shift in future focus from individual products to a systems level assessment approach. Product sustainability tends to focus on the embodied impacts whereas the sustainability of construction systems has a much broader focus over the entire life cycle of the system. This area of work will require further research.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
- Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Engineering (CICE)