Green buildings

Cares ensures green compliance

The Gulf region is increasingly focusing on sustainability, requiring the construction sector to deliver greener structures. This has generated challenges and opportunities alike for the reinforcing steel supply chain, says LEE BRANKLEY of Cares*.

June 2011

IN RESPONSE to the increasing demand for credible and reliable environmental data, Cares (Certification Authority for Reinforcing Steels) has developed a sustainable reinforcing steel scheme that quantifies the environmental impact of the reinforcing steel supply chain.

In the absence of a national or international standard, this methodology will enable firms in the reinforcing steel supply chain to establish their carbon footprint data in a consistent and transparent way.

In doing so, Cares-approved firms – from steel makers through to processors and those delivering steel to site – will not only ensure consistent compliance with the functional performance requirements but also, via a similar audit process throughout the supply chain, ensure that environmental data recorded by approved firms is both accurate and verifiable. All reinforcing steels produced by approved firms are uniquely identified via a system controlled by Cares. When steel arrives on site, no further testing is required, so avoiding unnecessary and costly delays.

The Cares’ initiative supports Abu Dhabi’s Plan 2030, which has clearly enjoined that sustainability will be the foundation of any new development that takes place in the emirate, reiterating its commitment to the environment and calling for the construction industry to improve standards and performance in the built environment.

As a result, those involved in designing, supplying and building these greener structures are under greater scrutiny to find ways to prove that their buildings are constructed with sustainability in mind.

The key features of the Cares sustainable reinforcing steel scheme are:

Compliance with BS 8902: The Cares sustainable reinforcing steel scheme has been established to comply with BS 8902(1), which provides a framework for the management, development, content and operation of sector certification schemes for responsible sourcing and supply of construction products.

By adopting the BS 8902 framework, Cares and reinforcing steel industry stakeholders have developed an objective and workable approach to the identification, collection, auditing and reporting of sustainable performance data. National accreditation will be possible to BS 8902 and Cares is actively pursuing this through UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service). The foundation of the Cares sustainability scheme is product traceability, often referred to as the chain of custody, throughout the whole supply chain, from melting of the steel to the delivery of the reinforcing steel to the construction site.

Product traceability: The supply chain for reinforcing steel, which involves its production, distribution, processing and delivery to a construction site, is complex. It is important to recognise that steel used in construction projects may come from manufacturers based all over the world. It is vitally important that the suppliers of these steels are independently verified as being proficient and trustworthy, so that the use of material of dubious or unknown origin and hence unknown properties and performance is avoided.

Cares requires an unbroken chain between the steel producer and the construction site, thus enabling the local end-user to know the production source and manufacturing processes used. All reinforcing steels produced by approved firms are uniquely identified. When steel arrives on-site, no further testing is required, resulting in avoidance of undue and costly delays at the construction site.

Carbon footprint tool: Life-cycle thinking considers the environmental impacts at all stages of a product’s life. A life-cycle analysis (LCA) provides transparent, quantitative and verifiable data and should be critically reviewed in accordance with ISO standards. It should then be possible to make functionally equivalent comparisons. This results in something more than just a declaration of ‘environment friendliness’. Life-cycle thinking also provides an opportunity to identify improvement areas or ‘hot spots’ in the supply chain.

The life-cycle assessment of a product can vary significantly depending on who prepares the data, what assumptions have been made, which method of calculation was used and where organisational boundaries are drawn. With this in mind, Cares has worked with a global company in the provision of LCA consulting services and environmental reporting tools to develop a tool to assess the carbon footprint of reinforcing steel products. This will be a mandatory aspect of the Cares sustainability certification scheme. The carbon footprint tool describes the structure of the carbon footprint model, and the data sources and methodologies used in its development.

Assessment process: The Cares assessment and certification process is open only to those firms in possession of a valid Cares product certification certificate and who will have:

The technical ability and resources required to meet the requirements of the relevant sustainable reinforcing steel operational assessment schedule, including issues such as the product’s carbon footprint, raw material use and economic and social impacts;

A quality management system to ISO 9001 and an environmental management system consistent with ISO 14001;
A proven ability to satisfy the sustainability policy and objectives; and

A commitment to the sustainability principles including a commitment to continual improvement.

Following a successful assessment, a certificate of approval is granted, which describes the scope of approval. A number of reinforcing steel producers and processors have achieved certification against the scheme. Details of approvals are maintained in an updated form and appear on a list of approved firms kept on the Cares website (

The industry sector approach adopted by the Cares-approved supply chain provides the opportunity to present audited environmental information about their products and means that designers can have confidence in the ‘level playing field’ status of the environmental impacts of reinforcing steel producers and processors activities.

Products made by approved companies are fully traceable throughout the whole supply chain, from the molten steel to the finished structure. It is an unbroken chain between the global producer and the local end-user, which enables the user to know the material’s properties, production source and manufacturing processes used. The Cares scheme takes into account specific environmental and social impacts and provides recognition for reinforcing steel producers and processors embracing genuine sustainability. Cares adapted its traditional product certification model to address the sustainability agenda and meet the designer’s need for robust, reliable and trusted sources of environmental performance data.

1. British Standards Institution, BS 8902. Responsible sourcing sector certification schemes for construction products Specification. BSI, London, 2009.

The UK-based Cares is an independent, not-for-profit certification body, established in 1983 to provide confidence to the users, purchasers and specifiers of constructional steels through a regime of regulation, testing and inspection.

More Stories