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evolutionSummer2015

The need to be responsible Responsible sourcing (RS) is a term that has come into common use in the construction industry quite recently. It is part of the sustainable construction agenda, and as a subject it is relevant to all those in product and project supply chains, including clients, specifiers, contractors and product manufacturers. The key principle is that some companies want to be able to demonstrate consideration of social and environmental criteria within the supply chain, often from an ethical perspective (Glass et al, 2012). RS is a way of measuring, monitoring and improving the way in which sustainability is managed within the supply chain, and is of particular interest where the product in question is sourced from multiple suppliers/processors, potentially unregulated locations, and contains high-risk/high-impact constituent materials. While many people would argue that the construction industry is inherently less vulnerable to supply chain loopholes and anomalies than, for example, fashion and food, the scale of the industry and its complex, global supply chains suggest otherwise. However, to date there have been relatively few instances of public scandals about the construction industry’s supply chain practices. The academic research on RS carried out mainly through the Action Programme for Responsible Sourcing (APRES) network and related studies, have established a strong link between RS and the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental management. However, it is important to clarify that RS is an umbrella term; encapsulating the breadth of sustainability issues. It is not the same as environmental management or life cycle assessment, and should not be used as a proxy for these or CSR. Rather, RS is a way for an organisation to show it takes such principles seriously, and is able to demonstrate and evidence this through an external audit process; covering a range of sustainability aspects, discussed later on. Development of targets and standards RS first appeared around 2006, in draft documents pertaining to a ‘code for sustainable buildings’ (which later became the Code for Sustainable Homes), but the early mentions tended to focus on timber procurement. Indeed, it took 10 years after the timber industry had established the Forestry 19 Professor Jacqui Glass, School of Civil Building Engineering, Loughborough University, discusses the role of responsible sourcing in construction and industry progress, related research and key areas where work is still in progress


evolutionSummer2015
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