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The UK’s largest construction firms have offered a glimmer of hope to subcontractors striving to beat the recession. In a shrinking market where competition is fierce, new research from shows that 95 per cent of large firms will give preference to subcontractors who can prove their green credentials.

The survey shows that during a time of oversupply, large firms with a turnover in excess of £10 million will increasingly use a subcontractor’s environmental credentials as a key factor when deciding how to award contracts.

The results also highlighted that 87 per cent of large construction firms have more confidence in subcontractors with proven green credentials: 76 per cent of them citing a reduced risk of prosecution. In addition, over half of respondents (56 per cent) think green policies will save subcontractors money – a welcome bonus in these tough economic times. A staggering 93 per cent of construction industry bosses also think that proof of environmental responsibility will move up their firm’s agenda over the next two years.

In response, the free environmental legislation guidance website, has launched a campaign to help smaller construction firms understand the importance of environmental compliance, and to highlight the opportunities that going green can offer. It has also developed an 8-point checklist to give subcontractors the best possible chance of winning business in a competitive tender. The checklist is available to download from

Stuart Rowe, Contracts Executive at Ellmer Construction comments: "As a large construction firm, we have our own set of robust green policies in place and provide environmental training for workers. However, it is essential for subcontractors to understand the value of having their own environmental policies rather than relying on the principal contractor. This gives them an added advantage in a competitive tender and saves them money. With environmental issues becoming ever more important we would encourage all subcontractors to harness the power of going green."

Richard Martin, Programme Manager at comments: “The research results are very encouraging in demonstrating to smaller construction firms how they can win business during the downturn. The message is, if they want to differentiate themselves from the competition and be selected in a shrinking market, then they must take their environmental responsibilities seriously and be able to demonstrate the measures they are taking.”

Shifting responsibility

When asked who should be responsible for making environmental improvements in construction businesses, alarmingly only 13 per cent of respondents felt that the firms themselves should be responsible. Most laid responsibility at the door of central Government (30 per cent) or government organisations (19 per cent).

Richard Martin continues: “Government is determined to improve the construction industry’s environmental performance by introducing sensible legislation. However, ultimately responsibility lies with the individuals in firms working on construction projects, and they cannot pass the buck.

“We can all make a difference through minimising wastage and encouraging others to do the same. already offers a free ‘Simple Guide to Site Waste Management Plans’, which has been downloaded more than 40,000 times. Now construction businesses can download a free wallposter, which includes an environmental checklist, to help them win contracts during the recession.”

For further information about Site Waste Management Plans and environmental guidance visit


Survey highlights

Among the large construction firms surveyed:

• 95 per cent would be more likely to appoint a subcontractor who can produce evidence of environmental responsibility.
• 93 per cent said that proof of environmental responsibility will move up the agenda of their firms over the next two years.
• The top three environmental procedures that will help subcontractors win business were waste management (83 per cent), storage and handling of hazardous materials (59 per cent) and dealing with pollution emergencies (40 per cent).
• 87 per cent of construction leaders felt that subcontractors with environmentally-friendly policies inspire confidence as they appear more professional.
• 76 per cent of construction bosses thought this evidence would reduce the risk of prosecution.
• 56 per cent of respondents thought green documentation and policies would ultimately save subcontractors money.


• - - is a joint initiative between the Environment Agency in England and Wales (EA and EAW), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
• was launched in 2004 to provide SMEs with guidance on complying with environmental legislation.
• The website currently offers specific guidelines for the great majority of industry sectors in the UK.
• provides free guidance to SMEs in the UK, which is available without the need to register.
• The survey was undertaken by Dynamic Markets Ltd on behalf of from 17th February to 4th March 2009. The survey was conducted via telephone interviews with 100 senior managers in UK construction firms with an annual turnover in excess of £10 million.

For more information contact:

Fiona Healey or Laura Zobel at Five by Five on:
Tel: 023 8082 8500
Email: /

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of NetRegs in the following categories: Environment & Nature, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy, Construction & Property, for more information visit