The role of building product specification in ESG success

Sustainability is an essential factor in the construction of new homes and redevelopments. Scott Wolters, Building Products Sales Manager at EGGER (UK) Ltd, explains the value of taking a ‘whole life’ view when specifying building products to help meet environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) objectives.

Considering the impact on the environment, natural resources and local communities is now a central part of businesses operations. This is important for housebuilders and developers given the increased awareness of a building’s carbon footprint.

Many house-buyers are looking for proven sustainability. Research from Legal & General showed that on average buyers are willing to pay a 10.5% premium for a low carbon property. This figure is even higher among Gen Z buyers, who would pay up to 20% more. The research also found a 34% increase in searches for eco-friendly homes. In addition to this, corporate investors are favouring businesses that are committed to monitoring and improving their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance.

A consideration for any development is embodied carbon and the wider environmental impact of the building products used. As embodied carbon encompasses all emissions associated with a product’s lifecycle, from the harvesting of raw materials to installation and the disposal at the end of its life, it is important to look carefully at suppliers to ensure environmental impact has been minimised at every stage.

Sustainably sourced renewable products

Specifying renewable materials wherever possible is crucial. Timber is a sustainable choice and an alternative to carbon-intensive materials for many applications. In contrast to materials manufactured from finite resources, trees can be replanted and regrown in a relatively short time and absorb carbon as they grow. One cubic metre of spruce wood sequesters around 825kg of CO2, and a cubic metre of OSB boards holds approximately 931kg of CO2. However, environmental benefits are dependent on how the timber is sourced, managed and used throughout its lifecycle.

As with all materials, it is important to specify responsibly sourced timber products. Sustainably managed forests operate in a way that maintains the health, productivity and biodiversity of the forest, with minimal impact on ecosystems. Therefore, when selecting timber-based products, such as structural flooring or OSB, for walls and roof decks, it is important to look at how the raw material has been sourced. Decision makers should look for certification that demonstrates  timber has been grown and managed sustainably, such as from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

In addition to this certification, the carbon emissions associated with the transportation of the raw materials and finished products must be factored in. 

Recycled and recyclable materials

Maximising the use of products manufactured from recycled and recyclable materials is another consideration. Recycling building products at the end of their life diverts waste away from landfill. While often overlooked, timber is recyclable, and it is possible to choose structural flooring that contains recycled wood. This can include post-consumer recycled wood, industrial waste and sawmill by-products, such as hackchips and saw dust. For example, EGGER’s structural flooring is manufactured using 40% sawmill by-products, 40% recycled wood, and 20% round wood that is unsuitable for further processing, meaning carbon embodied in the wood continues to be stored for the lifetime of the wood based panel.

For timber in particular, there are benefits to choosing products with recycled content. The longer a product remains in use, the longer it sequesters the absorbed carbon, offering the greatest environmental benefit. Recycling wood into a wood-based panel keeps the carbon out of the atmosphere and has a positive impact on the environment.


The energy used as part of the production process is another key factor in the environmental impact of a product, and the use of renewable or biomass energy in production can reduce the carbon footprint of products. 

Social value

Finally, the ‘social’ component of ESG should be considered in addition to a product’s credentials. It is important for housebuilders and developers to ensure that the aims of supply chain partners align with their own, and that social value is being generated throughout . This can be achieved by partnering with businesses that invest in recruitment, apprenticeships and training to upskill employees and close the industry’s skills gap. Social value can also be created by suppliers investing in community support, and working with local and national charities, as well as supporting employees in their own fundraising activities.

Considering sustainability and the wider ESG objectives at every stage of a development, including the specification of building products and the choice of supply chain partners, is fundamental to business success. EGGER UK is committed to minimising its impact on the environment, championing sustainable practices, and bringing benefits to the communities in which it operates.