Marshalls plc, the UK’s leading hard landscaping transformation company, is now supplying many schemes across the country with a new ‘eco-friendly’ concrete block paving (CBP). Building on the company’s long established expertise in pioneering concrete technology it has now started to manufacture the majority of its extensive portfolio of CBP using innovative, more environmentally conscious and sustainable materials. Supported by independently approved data, initial calculations have shown Marshalls’ new innovative mix design has reduced the CO2e* embodiment of the company’s overall CBP portfolio by up to 39%.
Marshalls’ Response & Research
Responding to the ever increasing demand to produce and specify environmentally friendly building products for construction, several years ago Marshalls’ commissioned its own extensive research & development programme to investigate how through modern methods of manufacturing it could lessen its impact on the environment.
With the 1997 Kyoto initiative, Climate Change Levy and carbon footprint measurement resonant in industry ears, the company made a commitment to lessen its impact on the environment not only through its products portfolio but throughout its operations. This has included extensive re-engineering of areas of its business such as logistics and close collaboration with other partners in the supply chain to achieve sustainable best practise.
As the principal producer of CBP in the country, Marshalls’ realised that the CO2e embodiment associated with the cement content in its production processes was a real concern. Through investing in an industry-leading research & development programme the company has created a new innovative cementitious mix design that uses a higher content of recycled materials and by-products with cutting edge admixture technology. By doing this Marshalls’ has reduced the carbon footprint of its blocks to circa 39% less of its original CO2e figure (measured against its traditional counterpart). It also established that the new innovative mix design could be used in the majority of cases to manufacture its leading portfolio of CBP products.
Throughout the development programme Marshalls’ took the utmost care to ensure its products maintained or improved on the high performance characteristics and quality of its traditional block. This meant conforming to, or exceeding the rigorous standards set out in the industry codes and British editions of European Standards. To make certain these standards were maintained Marshalls’ dedicated team of Concrete Technologists were involved at every stage of the process.
Working initially in the company’s laboratories, the technologists tested and analysed a wide range of ingredients under strict scientific conditions. After a proven set of results were confirmed the company then set up a full production trial. Working closely with its experienced production personnel this procedure was again constantly monitored to see if the same performance criteria were replicated in a mass production environment i.e. reduction in CO2e and compliance with the British editions of European Standards.
With the trial proving positive, it was only then that Marshalls sought confirmation of its performance and reduction of CO2e embodiment from an independent source. This was later confirmed by the UK’s leading independent consultancy, testing and commissioned research services company, who cover all aspects of the built environment.
This third-party assurance was essential as Marshalls needed to guarantee to specifiers and end users that the long-established confidence already instilled in the company’s CBP products could not be questioned which was now very much justified.
Marshalls’ Modern Manufacturing
In line with the company’s Sustainability Strategy extensive investment has also been carried out at the company’s production facilities.
To date, this strategy has already seen the company (voluntarily) aiming to achieve the 20% reduction in CO2 emissions set out by the UK Government as a signatory at Kyoto. A target it is well on the way to achieving.
Through this initiative it has now had 70% of its production tonnage covered by BSi accredited Integrated Management Systems combining Quality, Environment and Health & Safety Management Systems.
Significantly in terms of real manufacturing efficiency this has seen Marshalls’ CO2 emissions reduce 25% per tonne produced when comparing 2005 with 2003, further lowering the carbon footprint throughout its whole product portfolio.
Marshalls’ Future Commitment
Marshalls is committed to developing its operations in a sustainable manner and has a holistic approach to producing environmentally friendly landscaping materials.
This means that rather than just focusing on environmental issues, all decision making considers the environmental, social and economic impact of Marshalls' landscaping materials manufacture and supply, in order to improve its contribution to addressing the important key issues society faces today.
Marshalls recognise that adopting a sustainable approach across all its operations, both in the UK and overseas, is the only way that it can truly improve the company's contribution to society in this arena. By doing so, Marshalls contribution to sustainability will be significant and tangible.
To support this commitment, this year Marshalls has launched a bespoke web site about sustainability - www.marshalls.co.uk/sustainability with the aim to drive the wider debate on sustainable landscapes and contribute towards Social, Economic and Environmental progress in this field.
Education will be a central focus of the Marshalls for Sustainable Landscapes programme in 2007. Already the company has hosted a ‘Sustainability Summit’ to educate consumers, trade and industry about the issues of sustainable hard landscaping.
Chaired by The Sunday Times Insideout magazine, The Sustainability Summit was attended by leaders in the fields of sustainability, garden design, environmental conscious building, green guides and professional associations, all of whom have a key role to play in setting the sustainable hard landscapes agenda for 2007. The findings of the event can be reviewed on the Marshalls Sustainability web site as listed above. Future events are now also been planned by the company to strengthen the message.
Note: * CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) encapsulating all greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and measured from raw material origin to product on site.