10:00 AM, 1 May 2017

Sustainable approaches can increase your business opportunities

Winning work is imperative for business survival – yet it often comes at a cost to the very environment we live and operate in.  But what if there was a way to have one without the expense to the other for the metals industry? 

Well, it turns out one of the steps you can take to help achieve this comes in the form of the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) and their revised steel credits which promote the use of structural steel in buildings through recognition of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) – an initiative that provides international acknowledgement and compatibility to level the playing field and facilitate access to export markets more effectively for companies.

So what are these credits all about?

With growing climate concerns worldwide, industries have been forced to relook how they interact with the environment and most importantly - challenged to adopt clean, sustainable thinking into their practices. 

This has led many on the journey of better understanding the  extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment buildings have through their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing, and demolition, along with their energy, water, and raw materials use, generation of waste and potentially harmful atmospheric emissions - prompting the creation of green building standards, certifications, and rating systems aimed at mitigating these impacts on the natural environment through sustainable design.

The Green Star rating system introduced by NZGBC is New Zealand’s answer to this, evaluating the environmental design, efficiency and performance of our buildings based on the number of credits awarded for environmental merits over a range of areas which consider the components and materials used to deliver sustainable construction.

The new Green Star steel credit itself recognises internationally accepted EPDs in their assessment of a products environmental impacts and ensure that the complete value chain is captured in the ratings and the fabrication and processing of steel products is recognized through members possessing EMSs.  Also known as Type III labels, EPDs provide a globally accepted format for declaring the environmental performance of a product in a comparable way, with each EPD following the same consistent Product Category Rules (PCRs) based on the products use of raw materials, energy, waste generation and emissions to the air, soil and water throughout its life. 

In addition, third-party verification ensures all information is credible and consistent, and unlike many self-declared ‘green’ labels, doesn’t claim whether a product is more sustainable or greener than another - making the choice of selecting products on environmental grounds fall squarely on the shoulders of professionals such as architects, specifiers or procurement managers.

While EPDs are common in Europe, the US and parts of Asia, it’s still got a way to come in gaining importance in Australasia – something that at HERA we believe needs to happen sooner rather than later if we’re to help the metals industry effectively prepare for changing market needs where sustainability is poised to become a significant driver both nationally and abroad.

That’s why as members of the Sustainable Steel Council (SSC), we have a strong history of actively working with NZGBC to ensure New Zealand steel is dealt with fairly in their rating system – not only continuing to support steel reinforcement, but expanding the scope of the Green Star steel credit to include structural steel within buildings and recognising environmental impacts through the value chain from the fabrication and processing of these products.

We’ve also obtained a concession for SSC members wishing to be early adopters and pursue EPDs for their products through the Australasian EPD program - with one of these founding members OneSteel recently obtaining five EPDs, including hot rolled structural steel and rail to enable rating points to be awarded when their products are used in buildings.

What now?

You have a great opportunity to grow your business by aligning to NZGBC’s green star rating scheme which provides a clear and transparent means to credibly communicate the environmental performance of your product to meet customer needs, identify efficiency gains and cost savings and achieve a level playing field on an international stage.

Why not hear firsthand from OneSteel on how? Register to a free 30 minute webinar on 3 May 2017 at 3pm here – where their Customer & Market Relationship Manager Rob Johnson will share insights into the process of becoming accredited, and both the expected and unexpected benefits they’re now reaping the rewards of as a result of their journey.  

If you’d like more information on the Australasian EPD programme itself, or want a list of steel EPDs click here, or alternatively contact our General Manager Structural Systems Dr. Stephen Hicks on stephen.hicks@hera.org.nz or on +64 9 262 4841.