Photo by Simone Hutsch on Unsplash

3Keel publishes climate scorecard for companies in the construction materials sector 

20th September 2022

EDIT: A previously issued version of this report incorrectly referred to Armstrong World Industries as a producer of flooring, rather than ceiling, wall & suspension system solutions. As of October 7th 2022, this has been corrected.

Many of the largest construction materials suppliers globally must do more to ensure their climate plans are compatible with a 1.5ºC future, according to a major new study conducted by 3Keel. The Corporate Climate Benchmark Study, the first of a series of construction sector reports from 3Keel, assesses the climate plans and performance of 12 major companies supplying building materials to the construction sector.

The companies assessed emit millions of tonnes of GHG emissions each year, and have the potential to lead the decarbonisation of the sector – however while some specific actions and initiatives can be commended, no company presented a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions in line with the levels required to minimise the impacts of climate breakdown and keep global temperature rises to <1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

Globally, buildings are responsible for 37% of energy-related carbon emissions: 27% from operational emissions (the emissions from heating, cooling and powering buildings), and 10% from embodied emissions (the emissions related to building materials and construction activities). 

To date, the construction industry’s efforts to reduce emissions have concentrated on making new buildings more energy efficient, however as new buildings begin to meet higher efficiency standards, the relative contribution of embodied emissions will increase. The World Green Building Council estimates that embodied emissions will account for up to 50% of the total carbon emissions related to buildings built between 2019 and 2050.

Graph showing gap between corporate climate targets and levels of action required for companies assessed to align with global climate ambitions

Graph showing gap between current plans and 1.5C aligned climate scenarios

The Corporate Climate Benchmark Study has been developed in order to assess the performance of key actors within the construction materials sector, evaluating their progress and future plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their value chains. The report evaluates the progress of the sector’s climate action, scrutinises companies’ individual environmental claims, and highlights best practices that can be replicated across the sector to accelerate decarbonisation efforts.

Companies are assessed across 5 key categories of criteria, weighted to match their relative importance: 1) Measurement & disclosure, 2) Emissions reduction targets, 3) Emissions reduction plans, 4) Offset & neutralisation policies, and 5) Existing action taken.

Key findings include:

  • No company assessed in this report has published a complete and coherent plan to meet their targets, with quantified reduction actions aimed at reducing emissions across each of their key hotspots.
  • Only one company (Velux) has interim 1.5C aligned targets covering all emissions scopes and categories. Commendable targets have been set by Interface and Kingspan, however these targets exclude certain Scope 3 categories.
  • Three companies (Interface, ThyssenKrupp and Owens Corning) have demonstrated consistent Paris-aligned emissions reductions across all scopes over the last 5 years, while six companies either increased their total emissions or did not publish data.
  • The top three companies assessed were Interface, Owens Corning and Kingspan, and the lowest three were CRH, Tata Steel Group and Armstrong World Industries.
  • Collectively, even if all companies met their current interim targets, their emissions would be incompatible with the levels required to minimise global temperature rises to 1.5ºC, or even well below 2ºC, above pre-industrial levels.

For more information you can see the full report here.

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