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Setting new standards

When mega-client BAA launched its environmental construction award scheme last May, its suppliers responded enthusiastically. In all, 33 BAA projects were put forward to the judging panel.

For more than a decade BAA has been pushing its designers, contractors and suppliers for improved performance. In line with recommendations made by Sir John Egan in his critical report on the construction industry Rethinking Construction, it now procures much of its work within long term partnering and framework agreements.

In return for stable, conflict-free relationships, BAA expects innovation and constant improvements in cost efficiency and levels of service.

The environmental construction awards scheme sets out to recognise, encourage and reward good environmental practice in design and construction. Entry was open to suppliers involved in BAA construction projects across the UK.

'The awards came about in response to an external advisory group at Heathrow which asked how we incentivised designers to include environmental specifications in BAA projects, ' explains BAA design director, Mike Forster. BAA's concern with environmental performance has been further driven by the public inquiry into Heathrow Terminal 5.

BAA has teamed up with construction industry research body CIRIA and green business consultancy Forum for the Future to judge the awards.

Judging criteria include:

Innovation and enthusiasm shown by project teams;

The extent to which whole life performance has been considered;

Knowledge sharing;

A holistic approach to environmental issues;

Involvement of supply chain;

Measurable improvements in performance against environmental performance indicators supported by external benchmarking;

Adoption of new technologies and processes;

Technology transfer; and Benefits to BAA's business The range of projects eligible for an award was huge. 'We are trying to emphasise that process is as important as product, ' says Forster. 'A project demonstrating commitment to environmental responsibility in the design process, setting challenging targets and monitoring progress, or that undertook whole life costing and life cycle analysis, could score as highly as a scheme that acutally achieved energy conservation, reduction of greenhouse gases or selection of materials against environmental criteria.'

The awards also help BAA to establish a measure for future performance. At a best practice seminar last month, Forum for the Future director George Martin said: 'It is important to be able to gauge what has been achieved - to be able to say how many lorry kilometres have been saved, how many tonnes of concrete have been saved, and so forth.'

The awards also establish a standard for environmental performance that future construction schemes must match or beat, he added.

BAA technical director Mike Roberts said: 'Environmental management is clearly integral to the future success and profitability of our business.

'It is also becoming a key requirement for our relationships with contractors and suppliers.'

The awards are intended to raise environmental consciousness not just among BAA's own project teams but across the industry. The company believes that, as a major client, leading change and sharing best practice is essential. CIRIA will help to disseminate the lessons of BAA's experience across the UK.

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