28 May 2021

The human race is faced with a dilemma. Not one that just impacts us immediately, but one that affects every living thing on Earth and the planet itself. 

You would have heard about greenhouse gases and discussions on how to reduce the amount of carbon that we produce as a species. But what does it all mean, and why are we only focusing on carbon dioxide?

What is carbon dioxide?

Activities such as energy provision, transport, manufacturing, construction, farming, and more generate and emit carbon into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared heat from the sun and trap that heat within the atmosphere. The more carbon emitted, the higher the temperature gets. Further, the sea absorbs carbon and turns it into carbonic acidic which will ultimately kill off marine life. 

As the human population continues to grow, so does the amount of carbon generated, so what can we do? 

How concerns around carbon emissions impacts building product manufacturers

Worldwide, building and construction is responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions. This includes construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings, as well as the production of materials. 

Since the start of the industrial revolution, when mass manufacturing began, carbon emissions in the atmosphere have rocketed from a manageable five billion tonnes of CO2 per year to almost 40 billion tonnes per year. This number is currently increasing year on year.

Given the manufacturing of traditional steel, concrete and aluminium produce high levels of carbon dioxide, cutting these levels is a priority in Australia construction.

In NSW, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment are working with the building industry to encourage the voluntary use of low emission building materials after setting the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

This means that outside of your moral obligations as a manufacturer, your clients will now be demanding details of your sustainable measures.

The benefits of environmental sustainability for building product manufacturers

There are many opportunities for manufacturers willing to embrace development. Here are a few examples:

1) Gain more specifications

Specifiers’ and contractors’ demand for sustainably sourced and efficient products is on the rise. Eventually, it will become a mandatory requirement, not just a ‘nice-to-have’ feature.

As a manufacturer, embracing this opportunity and making changes will present an edge over your competition. This could be as simple as being open about your own energy use, for example, mapping out how you consume energy and identifying where you minimise use, or going deeper and looking into more sustainably sourced materials. 

NBS Australia is on a mission to help both the specifier and the manufacturer make more sustainable decisions. For manufacturers, NBS Source can help you to list sustainability credentials within your product data and make that visible in a uniform way to the specifier through NBS Chorus.

2) Reduce operational costs

From focusing on your buildings’ passive measures (how a building can naturally reduce energy consumption) to switching to low-energy-consuming appliances and systems, you can lower your annual operational spend whilst increasing your sustainable credentials. LED lighting, better insulation, renewable energy - there are an abundance of easy wins that you can make. 

You could go one step further and look at your fleet. There are numerous incentives available for switching cars to low or zero-emission vehicles. Calculating your embodied carbon from transport and energy use is a pretty straightforward thing to do, and from there it is easy to identify where the hotspots are, and where you can make the most impact with any planned changes.

3) Increased marketing activity

When you have mapped out your changes (or if you have already adopted measures), you can market the fact that you are doing so. Being seen to be making these changes by clients can help to boost your brand awareness and make you more desirable as a prospect. 

Through integrated marketing campaigns, you can get this positive message out there: either indirectly promoting your products or giving you a new angle to get your products in front of specifiers.

4) Product innovation

Through the introduction of new products (or by reviewing existing ones) – making small or even large changes to how a product is manufactured and performs – can be a huge benefit if considered sustainably. 

Low energy consumption is at the forefront of net zero building design, but there are also factors like water consumption to consider. Can efficiencies be made in production to reduce energy and waste? Can materials be sourced more locally and ethically? Simple things like using recycled material can help. The result will be a better, more specifiable products and (again) lead to better marketing opportunities.

5) Third-party certification

Nothing demonstrates a manufacturer’s desire to be best in class more than allowing their products to be independently certified. Any performance or manufacturing claims can then be better trusted by specifiers if a third party has accredited those claims through independent testing. 

When designing with safety in mind, third-party certification is a must. Sustainability is going the same way. Providing certificates relating to your products helps specifiers make decisions. Crucially though, you need to present these alongside your product data and listings to make them as easily accessible as possible. NBS Source provides a uniform process for manufacturers to do this.


Getting your sustainable building products specified

Now is the time to make positive changes to the way you work, and the way your products and brand are perceived in the industry. With small steps and a clear roadmap, you can make big improvements, not only to your profit potential but also to the environment. 

If you would like to discuss more about how NBS could help you demonstrate your brand’s and products’ sustainability benefits to specifiers, please contact us.