Blog: Embracing ESG for a sustainable future: nurturing change across the built environment

17 April 2024

The construction industry has long been at the forefront of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations.

Richard Gibbons, Head of Process Sustainability and Compliance at Knauf

As the largest segment of the UK market, it is crucial that as an industry, it sets a precedent for best practice within ESG. There has been a culture shift, where increasing emphasis has been placed on the social and governance aspects of ESG, but it remains vital for businesses to consider all three aspects if they are to maintain a sustainable business model. 

EMBRACING ESG FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: NURTURING CHANGE ACROSS THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

Not only does prioritising suitable ESG values have the clear advantages of improving employee wellbeing, giving back to the community and contributing towards global environmental goals, but for those in the industry not getting on board with ESG, it can have poor financial and investment drawbacks. In fact, 79% of investors now place importance on the way a company manages ESG when considering whether to invest in a business or not.

Sustainability is not just a concept to pay lip service to – it should be ingrained in the fabric of organisations. Actions of today impact generations to come, which is why many companies are creating roadmaps to sustainability, underscoring their dedication to reducing environmental footprints and fostering social responsibility.

The need for a holistic approach

It is important to recognise that ESG is not one-dimensional, it is about creating better values and goals at every pillar of the business including people, the planet and prosperity.

Workforces across the built environment are rightly prioritising the wellbeing of employees, recognising that a healthy, engaged workforce is essential for long-term success. Companies should be providing comprehensive healthcare benefits, creating safe work environments, and investing in initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion. By empowering employees and supporting professional development, businesses are not only driving performance but also fostering a culture of innovation and resilience.

Reducing environmental impact is another vital aspect of creating a sustainable organisation and adhering to ESG values. Companies are setting ambitious targets to reduce emissions and eliminate waste. Through a combination of efficiency improvements, investment in renewable energy sources, and adoption of more sustainable practices, businesses are building their own sustainable futures. Key to this is embracing the principles of a circular economy through schemes aimed at minimising waste and maximising resource efficiency.

Sustainable business practices are synonymous with long-term prosperity. By adhering to governance standards, ensuring transparency and accountability, and ensuring collaboration across supply chains, companies are building more resilient business models.

The need to get on board with ESG values has never been clearer. By prioritising sustainability across operations and supply chains, construction companies can not only safeguard its people and the planet, but also create value for shareholders, stakeholders, and society at large.

About Knauf

Established in 1932, Knauf has evolved from a family business into a global force, operating in 90 countries with 41,000 employees. As a leading building products manufacturer, Knauf UK and Ireland started in 1988 with a state-of-the-art plasterboard factory in Sittingbourne, Kent, producing top-quality plasterboards and laminates.

Following success, the Immingham Plasterboard Plant was built in 1990, to the same modern technical specification and has the capability to produce the complete range of Knauf plasterboards, thermal laminates and foil-backed plasterboards. In 1993, the Sittingbourne facility expanded with the UK Powder Plant, adding diverse products like Knauf Plasterboard Adhesive. In 2006, the Immingham plant expanded with energy-efficient technologies. The whole plant insulated, and two huge heat exchangers added, saving 10% of the plant's energy requirements

In 2013, Knauf unveiled The Cube, a modernist hub and training centre at the Sittingbourne site. The UK expansion continued in 2022 with the acquisition of a Newport, South Wales plasterboard plant, which will further increase plasterboard capacity.

 

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