Construction Materials

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Construction Materials entities have global operations and produce construction materials for sale to construction entities or wholesale distributors. These primarily include cement and aggregates, but also glass, plastic materials, insulation, bricks and roofing material. Materials producers operate their own quarries, mining crushed stone or sand and gravel. They may also purchase raw materials from the mining and petroleum industries.

Relevant Issues (9 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Construction Materials

GHG Emissions
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    The production of construction materials, particularly cement, generates significant direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from on-site fuel combustion and chemical processes. The industry has achieved efficiency gains in reducing emissions per tonne of materials produced. At the same time, increasing production is associated with increasing absolute emissions from cement production. The production of construction materials remains carbon-intensive relative to other industries, exposing the industry to higher operating and capital expenditures from emissions regulations. Strategies to reduce GHG emissions include energy efficiency, use of alternative and renewable fuels, carbon sequestration and clinker substitution. Operational efficiencies can be achieved through the cost-effective reduction of GHG emissions. Such efficiencies can mitigate the potential financial impact of increased fuel costs as well as direct emissions from regulations that limit—or put a price on—GHG emissions.
Air Quality
  • Air Quality

    On-site fuel combustion and production processes in the Construction Materials industry emit criteria air pollutants and hazardous chemicals, including small quantities of organic compounds and heavy metals. Emissions of particular concern include nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxides, particulate matter, heavy metals (for example, mercury), dioxins and volatile organic compounds, among others. These air emissions can have significant, localised human health and environmental impacts. Financial impacts resulting from air emissions will vary depending on the specific location of operations and the applicable air emissions regulations, but they could include higher operating or capital expenditures and regulatory or legal penalties. Active management of the issue—through technological and process improvements—may allow entities to limit the impact of regulations and benefit from operational efficiencies that could lead to a lower cost structure over time.
Energy Management
  • Energy Management

    The production of construction materials requires significant energy, sourced primarily from direct fossil fuel combustion as well as from purchased electricity. Energy-intense production has implications for climate change, and electricity purchases from the grid can create indirect Scope 2 emissions. Construction materials entities also use alternative fuels for kilns, such as scrap tyres and waste oil—often waste generated by other industries. If properly managed, these can lower energy costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, potentially negative impacts could occur, such as releases of harmful air pollutants that entities need to minimise to obtain net benefits from using such fuels. Decisions about use of alternative fuels, renewable energy and on-site generation of electricity (versus purchases from the grid) can be important in influencing both the costs and reliability of energy supply. Affordable, easily accessible and reliable energy is an important competitive factor in this industry, with purchased fuels and electricity accounting for a significant proportion of total production costs. How a construction materials entity manages energy efficiency, reliance on different types of energy and associated sustainability risks, and access to alternative sources of energy may influence its profitability.
Water & Wastewater Management
  • Water Management

    Construction materials production requires substantial volumes of water. Entities face operational, regulatory and reputational risks associated with water scarcity, costs of water acquisition, regulations on effluents or amount of water used, and competition with local communities and other industries for limited water resources. Risks are likely to be higher in regions of water scarcity because of potential water availability constraints and price volatility. Entities unable to secure a stable water supply could face production disruptions, while rising water prices could directly increase production costs. Consequently, the adoption of technologies and processes that reduce water consumption could lower operating risks and costs for entities by minimising the impact of regulations, water supply shortages and community-related disruptions on entity operations.
Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
  • Waste Management

    Construction materials production recycling rates are high. However, waste from production processes, pollution control devices and from hazardous waste management activities present a regulatory risk and can increase operating costs. Cement kiln dust (CKD)—consisting of fine-grained, solid, highly alkaline waste removed from cement kiln exhaust gas by air pollution control devices—is the most significant waste category in the industry. Regulatory risk remains high from evolving environmental laws. Entities that reduce waste streams—hazardous waste streams in particular—and recycle by-products, can reduce regulatory and litigation risks and costs.
Ecological Impacts
  • Biodiversity Impacts

    Construction materials entities often operate their own quarries close to processing facilities. Quarrying requires the removal of vegetation and topsoil. It also requires the blasting and crushing of underlying stone deposits. The process can result in permanent landscape alterations, with associated biodiversity impacts. Because of an increasing awareness and protection of ecosystems, the environmental characteristics of the land where quarrying takes place could increase extraction costs. Entities could also face regulatory or reputational barriers to accessing sites in ecologically sensitive areas. This may include new protection status afforded to areas where reserves are located. Quarrying operations also may be subject to laws protecting endangered species. Entities that have an effective environmental management plan for each stage of the project lifecycle—including restoration during site decommissioning—could minimise their compliance costs and legal liabilities. These entities may face less community resistance in quarrying at new sites and avoid difficulties in obtaining permits and delays in project completion.
Employee Health & Safety
  • Workforce Health & Safety

    Employees and contractors of construction materials entities face significant health and safety risks. Industry hazards include those arising from heavy equipment use and quarrying operations. In addition to acute impacts, workers can develop chronic health conditions from silica dust inhalation, among other factors. Because of these hazards, the industry has relatively high mortality rates, and many entities have implemented a strong safety culture and health and safety policies to mitigate associated risks. Worker injuries, illnesses and fatalities can result in regulatory penalties, negative publicity, low worker morale and productivity, and increased health care and compensation costs.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Product Innovation

    Innovations in building materials are an essential component in the growth of sustainable construction. Consumer and regulatory trends are driving adoption of sustainable building materials and processes that are more resource efficient and can reduce health impacts of buildings throughout their lifecycle. This is creating new business drivers for construction materials entities, with an opportunity to increase revenue. Furthermore, some new products require less energy to produce, or use largely recycled inputs, reducing production costs. Therefore, sustainable construction materials can contribute to an entity’s long-term growth and competitiveness.
Competitive Behaviour
  • Pricing Integrity & Transparency

    The construction materials market has been subject to instances of anti-competitive behaviour, such as artificially high prices maintained through cartel activity. Most countries have well-established fair business practice laws to prevent such behaviour. Business activity leading to price fixing or other manipulation of prices can result in material legal fines or business disruption. Managing anti-competitive behaviour within an organisation can effectively mitigate regulatory risks, including those related to investigations of mergers and acquisitions or compliance costs.

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