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Meeting demands of the sector's green agenda; By Dr Miles Watkins, director of group environmental and corporate social responsibility for Aggregate Industries.

Byline: By Dr Miles Watkins

Each year the UK construction industry uses almost 280 million tonnes of aggregates as raw construction material. A quarter of this - some 70 million tonnes - is produced from recycled and secondary resources, and attention is increasingly being directed at further promoting their use as sustainable, cost-effective and practical substitutes.

With major infrastructure projects like the 2012 Olympic Games recognising the value and importance of these more sustainable aggregates, there has never been so much focus on the sustainable credentials of a company and the desire to work with like-minded manufacturers and suppliers.

Aggregate Industries is one of the most environmentally conscious suppliers of construction and building materials, and is heavily committed to sustainability, having consistently developed and promoted the business as one that sees sustainability as core to its success over the last decade.

With more than 6,000 people at 450 sites across the UK, sustainability has long been at the core of our business operations, but we look to update and improve what we do on a continual basis.

As a member of Business in the Community we take part in the annual Corporate Responsibility Index which benchmarks our processes and performance against other leading companies. In 2006, we were again listed in the top 100, and a key driver of our future development is the expanding arena of sustainable construction.

Since 2004, we have sponsored the Civic Trust's Sustainability Award, which recognises and rewards projects, which have set exemplary standards in sustainable design while at the same time benefiting communities through their contribution to the quality and appearance of the local environment.

In 2006, we became a founder member of the UK Green Building Council, a major voice in the growing international green building movement.

We work closely with local and national groups to develop an understanding of what we do and how we positively contribute to economic, social and environmental well-being across all of the areas where we have operations. This has led to our commitment to support the Wildlife Trusts' involvement in the BBC Breathing Places campaign over the next three years.

We also support the Holcim Awards, which are promoted by our parent company Holcim, that aims to encourage innovative approaches to sustainable construction.

These global awards, for anyone involved in the in less of sustainable construction projects, opened for submissions on June 1 2007 and will close for entries on February 29 2008. The 2005/06 competition attracted more than 3,000 submissions from 120 counties.

Bringing sustainable construction practices and materials to the mass market is becoming increasingly important.

UK government policy, for example the Code for Sustainable Homes, is clearly the most direct market intervention on the grounds of sustainability that we have ever seen, and in the US, the Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programme is starting to gain momentum and we are also playing our part in these new initiatives.

We live in a world showing rapid change in the level of activity and expectations for sustainable development.

In a world where concern over the distance that our food travels to our plate has created new market opportunities for locally sourced produce, it is sometimes forgotten that some businesses already supply, and have long been supplying, locally sourced and manufactured materials to local markets.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 20, 2007
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