Corporate social responsibility — the idea that businesses are obligated to do more than just turn a profit — is having significant impact on construction firms. Today, more and more construction firms choose social responsibility.
American Bown Howard Bowen introduced the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in 1953 with his publication, “Social Responsibilities for the Businessman,” to address the growing concern about worker wellbeing and productivity. Industry was facing criticism around working conditions in American factories, and people felt social problems were emerging because of them. Concerns about corporate social responsibility have intensified since then, and in the 1970s, the Committee for Economic Development introduced the idea of the “social contract” between businesses and society. The concept has continued to take hold, and today’s largest organizations have adopted CSR as an essential element of a successful business strategy.
With increasing concerns over global warming, construction firms are in the hot seat with respect to CSR. As an industry, construction has a huge impact on the environment. Embodied carbon — the carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacture, transport and construction of building materials — can account for half of a building’s total carbon footprint. In fact, the building sector produces 11% of annual global GHG emissions. From green building materials and practices, to incorporating smart technologies into blueprints, construction firms must now keep CSR initiatives top of mind to remain competitive.
How Can Firms Be Socially Responsible?
There are many ways construction firms can choose social responsibility and incorporate CSR initiatives into their operations. Common examples include charitable donations of goods to those in need, participating in fair trade and recycling programs, or matching employee donations to nonprofit organizations. In construction, however, corporate social responsibility has wide-spread impact on the projects a firm takes on. Firms must be conscious about how they design their buildings and what technologies and materials they use.
Here are some ways construction firms are meeting the growing demand for CSR in their building practices.
1. They’re going green:
Findings from the 2019 STO Building Group Sustainability Survey suggest that green building is here to stay and becoming common practice among firms. Of the senior commercial real estate owners, end users and industry partners surveyed, none think green building is a passing fad. The vast majority (89%) operate as it’s already a code requirement. As a result, they’re designing buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and electrical systems, solar panels and water conservation practices. Additionally, many organizations are using sustainable, renewable materials such as bamboo and rubber, and paints with lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They’re installing rainwater management systems and energy-efficient windows and doors.
Although some of these materials and systems can cost more, builders can charge a premium, as a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers are willing to pay more for buildings that use them. Plus, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified buildings use 25% less energy, 11% less water and emit 34% less carbon dioxide than other buildings — so they cut costs in the long-run.
2. They’re reducing waste.
Construction sites are notorious for generating waste. According to a report from Transparency Market Research, the volume of construction waste generated worldwide will almost double to 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Why are construction projects so wasteful? Design changes and rework, poor documentation, improper and inadequate materials storage, the lack of a sound waste management strategy, and materials damage during transportation are some of the main causes.
To address these problems, many construction firms are installing construction cameras. Cameras can be used to monitor the transportation, delivery and handling of materials, and they can also integrate with project management software to improve logistics and scheduling. Surveillance videos and photos can be used to enforce proper jobsite procedures and practices, and hold workers accountable for how they use and dispose of materials.
3. They’re creating a culture of sustainability.
To truly adopt and execute on CSR initiatives, construction firms should work to create a culture of social responsibility and environmental sustainability among employees. To that end, many are becoming LEED-certified and training their staff on green building practices. Some firms support corporate-sponsored community service and volunteering initiatives that allow employees to allocate hours to giving back to the community — another important aspect of CSR. And as younger people entering the workforce tend to prioritize these issues, firms that create a culture around social responsibility have a competitive edge for attracting and retaining talent.
Corporate social responsibility requires ongoing focus and dedication on the part of construction firms. TrueLook construction cameras can be used to support CSR initiatives while also providing evidence and documentation of adherence to LEED certification requirements. Watch a demo of our marketing-leading solutions to learn more.