How a CarbonNeutral® product strategy is driving business value throughout the Confidex Sustain® supply chain

How a CarbonNeutral® product strategy is driving business value throughout the Confidex Sustain® supply chain

Owned by global giant Tata Steel, Corus is Europe’s second largest steel producer. Through their Colorcoat® brand, the company provide pre-finished steel building envelopes to the construction industry for use in a wide range of buildings including commercial, education, residential and industrial. Colorcoat® pre-finished steel is supplied through a strategic supply chain with partners including CA Building Products, Corus Panels and Profiles, Eurobond, Euroclad, Tegral and Trimo UK. Clients include ProLogis, Bulmers (Ireland), Sainsbury’s, Huntstown Power Station, Easter Properties and roof-light manufacturer, Hambleside Danelaw.

With the global population doubling every 40 years there is a need to erect as many buildings in the next 50 years as in the last 5,000. At the same time we face a global challenge to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and increase energy efficiency from 10% to 25% per decade. Within the scope of responsibility for the construction industry the use of steel may go some way to supporting these goals since it is, by its nature, one of the most sustainable and most widely recycled materials in the world. As a steel producer with a reputation for innovation Corus identified a growing demand for sustainable construction materials and an opportunity for those within the supply chain that could demonstrate the cradle to cradle sustainable attributes of their roof and wall cladding systems.

Their response was to develop Confidex Sustain®, an offering available to all buildings where Colorcoat HPS200® Ultra and Colorcoat Prisma® pre-finished steel products are specified as part of a Colorcoat® assessed cladding system. The manufacture of pre-finished steel for roof and wall cladding systems will always generate some unavoidable CO2 emissions. For those unavoidable emissions the only responsible option is to carbon offset whilst simultaneously reducing these unavoidable emissions through the use of innovative steel technologies and manufacturing excellence. Corus recognised the strongest position it could take would be to reduce the carbon emissions of the product to net zero. Choosing leading experts The CarbonNeutral Company as their carbon offset partner, in 2007 Corus launched the world’s first cradle to cradle CarbonNeutral® building envelope. This strategy of combining existing sustainable product elements with investment in global carbon reductions gives Corus and their suppliers a real competitive advantage because it is a simple and cost effective system that helps meet carbon reduction objectives across the supply chain, whilst offering a differentiated product to the market.

This case study looks at the drivers for such a product development, how it was achieved and the benefits that have been realised in a relatively short space of time by Corus and their supply chain partners.

Delivering sustainable construction as a unique opportunity.

Corus Colorcoat® pre-finished steel products are supplied into the UK in a number of building envelope sectors such as industrial, distribution and storage facilities. As supermarkets and high street retailers have been forced to address their carbon footprint, pressure has been felt across the full spectrum of their suppliers. These companies want to work with their entire supply chain to deliver sustainable buildings for their storage and distribution centres and support this goal. Corus identified a genuine demand for sustainable construction materials and by creating the most sustainable building envelope they are increasing their share in this highly competitive market.

As a company Corus has already achieved a 13% reduction in overall carbon emissions since 1999 through a number of large scale initiatives. Most significantly the company has invested €350M to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process and they are the UK’s largest commercial user of rail freight following a switch from road transport which removes 400,000 driving miles per annum. These, along with a whole host of other sustainable initiatives and considerable investment have seen Corus demonstrate its commitment to CO2 reduction.

Confidex Sustain® has been applied to the building envelope on the Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Dartford. Sainsbury’s Head of Supply Chain Roger Burnley commented “We recognise that virtually every business decision we make has an impact on the environment and that we can minimise that impact by improving our stores and business facilities, reducing packaging, promoting recycling and improving transport. We’re extremely pleased that so many sustainable design features have been incorporated into our new distribution feature at Pineham”

Achieving the world’s first cradle to cradle CarbonNeutral building envelope through carbon offset

After researching the carbon market for a suitable partner Corus chose leading carbon offset company The CarbonNeutral Company (TCNC). As Dave Taylor, Business Development Manager, comments, "After an extensive review of carbon offset providers we decided to work with The CarbonNeutral Company because of their positive reputation, the investment they make in quality assurance, particularly the audit of their carbon management process by Price Waterhouse Cooper, along with the scale, traceability, and range of offset projects. Importantly, we also felt that they understood what we were trying to achieve with Confidex Sustain® and have proved to be a good partner for Corus”. TCNC working with The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, Corus and their supply chain partners were able to accurately calculate the Greenhouse gas emissions produced over the life cycle of the pre-finished steel cladding, including manufacture, installation, use, re-use and end of life options.

Every time a Confidex Sustain® building envelope is constructed, this methodology is applied and the carbon footprint of the development is calculated. This footprint is reduced to net zero through investment in a portfolio of international technology projects that reduce carbon and meet global carbon offset standards.

All clients have to do is specify an assessed cladding system that uses either Colorcoat HPS200® Ultra or Colorcoat Prisma®, and Colorcoat® PE15 internal liner, at the project design stage. This allows Corus to manage the necessary offsetting in advance. These investments complement the existing internal reduction efforts of Corus and contribute to the reduction in CO2 globally. Investment in carbon offsets that meet international quality standards fund real and permanent reductions. As far as the climate is concerned it doesn’t matter in which part of the world the reduction takes place, the net effect is the same – reduced CO2 in the atmosphere.

The offset programme is backed by a robust and fully audited process underpinned by the CarbonNeutral protocol. In addition there is also full traceability and composition information for all elements of the pre-finished steel and cladding system, including insulation and fixings.

Realising the benefits of the worlds first CarbonNeutral® building envelope

Since the launch in April 2007 to date, 54 Confidex Sustain® assessed cladding systems have been registered and completed across the UK and Ireland totalling 842,838 m2 and offsetting 22,558.05 tonnes CO2. As a result of its CarbonNeutral credentials Confidex Sustain® was chosen for Bulmers (Ireland), Prologis, Huntsdown Power Station and Princess Yachts. The popularity of the offering has exceeded initial expectations and there are a further 7 projects registered.

Confidex Sustain® is available through five supply chain partners but one supplier CA Group has been particularly pro-active in using the product and has achieved a 96% share of the total square metreage for projects registered and completed so far. This represents 810,221m2 proving the opportunity to increase share in a difficult market through the supply of sustainable construction materials to end clients.

CA Group put their success with Confidex Sustain® down to a few simple but crucial things. Firstly, recognising the growing importance of sustainability to their clients and how using Confidex Sustain
® can help meet those goals. Additionally a training programme ensures that the sales team fully understand the concept of a CarbonNeutral® building envelope and can explain this to others in the supply chain. Finally they have confidence in Confidex Sustain® because they recognise the need for this type of offsetting to conform to rigorous standards and ensure that the ‘green’ claims promoted within this particular industry can stand up to scrutiny.

One of the early projects to use Confidex Sustain® was a distribution centre at Pineham for Sainsbury’s, developed with ProLogis. Sustainability is a core value for Sainsbury’s so their challenge to ProLogis and the supply chain was to develop a building that set new standards for environmentally friendly design in industrial real estate. The architects RPS Burks Green estimates that due to the innovative building design carbon emissions are reduced by 50% and it is 75% more energy efficient than a standard warehouse facility. The roof and cladding system supplied by CA Group for the 618,500sq ft construction is the largest project on which Confidex Sustain’s CarbonNeutral building envelope has been specified and a total of nearly 2,000 tonnes CO2 have been offset on the pre-finished steel building envelope on this project alone. Maurice Dalton, Senior Vice President at ProLogis commented: “For ProLogis, the development of buildings with a zero carbon shell depends on a strong, resourceful supply chain. Corus plays an important role in this supply chain and has become one of our key partners in delivering sustainable buildings.” Colorcoat® assessed Confidex Sustain® cladding systems were chosen over other cladding systems because they clearly met all the environmental criteria by delivering completely CarbonNeutral building envelopes.

Commenting on the choice of cladding system for the Sainsbury’s project Brian Watson, Commercial Director of CA Group said “with the evolution of Confidex Sustain®, Corus are at pains to demonstrate complete integrity, using life cycle calculation provisions.” He added “these provisions are laid down in international standards and the alignment of themselves with an established and reputable offsetting partner in The CarbonNeutral Company opens their whole process up to audit by industry peers. This approach is a perfect fit with the CA philosophy and neatly complements ProLogis’ complete commitment to ensuring that their buildings utilise and demonstrate the best possible sustainable practices”.

In 2008 Confidex Sustain® won the Construction Industry Waste Management (CIWM) award for Environmental Excellence in the category of Sustainable Product Development of the Year, which rewards products that have been designed or produced to impact sustainability. ProLogis’ latest building Crewe 360 has offset 966 tonnes of CO2 through Confidex Sustain® confirming their future investment and commitment to deliver the benefits of sustainable construction to their clients.

“The award from CIWM is recognition of the excellent results that have been achieved since the development and launch of Confidex Sustain®. By improving the sustainability of our Colorcoat® pre-finished steel products and working closely with our strategic partners, we are encouraging a sustainable culture throughout the construction supply chain” said Rebecca Jones, Brand Manager for Corus Colors.

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