By Derek Hughes, BES 6001 Certification Scheme Manager, BRE Global
In an earlier article I described how the issue of responsible sourcing is becoming increasingly important when procuring materials for construction.
In response to this interest, BRE developed the BES 6001 Framework Standard for Responsible Sourcing. It is an independent stakeholder supported, third-party scheme that enables manufacturers of to have the responsible sourcing credentials of a wide range of materials assessed and certificated.
In this article I’ll discuss BES 6001 in more detail and its uptake in the construction sector.
BES 6001 – The Standard
Firstly it’s important to recognise that the standard is focused on individual materials or products, not companies. So, it’s not an organisation that is covered by the certification but those materials that the company has submitted for evaluation. A company may sell some products that are certified, whilst still selling others that have not yet been assessed.
The standard is broken down into three sections:
- Organisational Management Requirements
- Supply Chain Management Requirements
- Requirements related to the management of sustainable development
The first and third relate very much to the management practices within the organisation seeking certification, whilst the second point relates to the nature, sources and make-up of the various component materials in the certificated product(s).
Taking each section separately...
Organisational Management Requirements
The focus here is on how the company whose products are being assessed, manages key operational factors. This section is divided into four clauses, each one of which has compulsory requirements:
Responsible sourcing policy
The company must make a policy commitment, endorsed at senior management level, to follow the principles of responsible sourcing as outlined in BES 6001.
The company must demonstrate that it identifies and implements all applicable local, national and ratified international laws and regulations, and determine how these laws and regulations apply to the implementation of its responsible sourcing policy.
Quality management system & operational management of responsible sourcing
The scope of the company’s documented quality management system and any associated certification is assessed along with how it supports the various responsible sourcing procedures.
Supplier management system
The scope of the company’s documented management system for its purchasing process, and the process for approving its suppliers, are evaluated. Importantly, when the company uses input materials from suppliers based outside the EU, or from states that have not declared adherence to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, it must undertake a risk assessment to demonstrate due diligence. This is to ensure these suppliers comply with the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. BRE’s SmartWaste software can help your construction project materials management by tracking certified and non-certified products.
Supply Chain Management Requirements
The section focuses on ensuring that the materials and products used in the manufacture of the items have suitable certification. They are assessed down the supply chain to the supplier(s) responsible for the:
- extraction of raw materials, or
- recovery of recycled materials, or
- production of by-products, or
- processing of commodity traded chemicals.
Three aspects of the input materials are assessed in the three separate clauses of the section, each one of which has compulsory requirements. The proportion of products with traceability as defined in the first clause is the one carried forwards for consideration in the 2nd and 3rd clauses. Increased scores can be secured by having increasing proportions of input materials covered by comprehensive documented evidence (eg ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001). The clauses cover:
This is demonstrated by the identification and traceability of constituent material(s) at each stage of the supply chain to the source of the constituent material(s) through ISO 9001 certification. Alternatively, an independently audited full chain of custody scheme to source of the constituent material(s) (as defined above) satisfies the requirement for traceability.
Environmental management systems
The traceable constituent material(s) in the assessed product determined in the traceability clause above must as a minimum be traceable to supplier(s) with a documented Environmental Management System (EMS). Additional points can be scored if the systems are certificated (to ISO 14001) by third-party bodies.
Health and safety management systems
Similarly, the traceable constituent material(s) in the assessed product determined in the traceability clause above must as a minimum be traceable to supplier(s) with a documented Health and Safety Management System. Additional points can be scored if the systems are certificated (to OHSAS 18001) by third-party bodies.
Requirements related to the management of sustainable development
The focus now shifts back to the company whose products are being assessed, rather than the supply chain. Here a wide range of social, environmental and economic indicators are assessed. Some of these have compulsory elements (these are in bold in the table); others are optional (normal text in the table). Performance beyond the compulsory minimum is rewarded by additional points. Space does not allow for a fuller review of each of the clauses, but generally the levels of performance can be simplified to the following hierarchy of achievement (performance increases as you go down the list):
- establish a policy (endorsed by senior management)
- set objectives and targets associated with the policy
- report freely to all stakeholders on how these objectives and targets have been met
- have the forgoing verified by a third-party organisation
Social, environmental and economic indicators
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Ecotoxicity|
|Energy use||Transport impacts|
|Resource use||Employment and skills|
|Waste prevention and waste management||Local communities|
|Water abstraction||Business ethics|
|Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)|
The assessment process delivers a total score based on the number of points scored above the Compulsory level. The number of points determines whether a certificate of ‘Pass’, ‘Good’, ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ level is issued. Each certificate is valid for three years with Annual Verifications assuring the continued robustness of the information provided. Each certificate for Issue 3 assessments will include a bar chart indicating how well the assessed product(s) scored in each clause – this assures the transparency and usability of the certification.
The current Issue of the BES 6001 scheme, Issue 3, was launched in May 2014. The process undertaken to develop the changes between Issue 2 and 3 were extensive and included significant levels of stakeholder engagement. Throughout the review process four open workshops were held, aligned with two on-line questionnaires. Stakeholder engagement was significant in this process; examples of those organisations taking place in this activity are given below.
Stakeholder sample from Issue 3 development process
Brett Landscaping & Building Products
British Ceramic Confederation
British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation
British Property Federation (BPF)
British Standards Institution
British Woodworking Federation
Construction Industry Council (CIC)
Construction Product Association
H+H UK Limited
Home Builders Federation (HBF)
Homes & Communities Agency
Kingspan Insulation Limited
Sustainable by Design
The British Constructional Steelwork Association Ltd.
The British Precast Concrete Federation (BPCF)
Timber Trade Federation
UK Cementitious Slag Makers Association
UK Contractors Group
Wood Panel Industries Federation
Uptake of BES 6001 in the construction sector
At the last review of certificate numbers (March 2014) there were 84 valid BES 6001 certificates across 12 distinct sectors (three were in the ‘Other’ category). These are detailed in the table below. Over 100 certificates have been issued but a number of these have been overtaken by restructuring activities in the sector and some changes in certification descriptions.
Of these certificates the greater bulk were in the ‘Good’ or ‘Very Good’ category (28.6% and 69.0%) respectively with the remaining 2.4% in the ‘Pass’ category. There were no ‘Excellent’ certificate passes.
Valid BES 6001 Certificates by Sector and Pass Level (Mar 2014)
|Product type||Pass||Good||Very Good||Excellent||Total|
|Aggregates, sand, gravel, asphalt and RMC||1||4||11||16|
|Reinforcing steel bar, coil and mesh||7||2||9|
|Structural steel products||3||3|
|Precast concrete, concrete products||3||8||11|