Greenwash and the Built Environment Industry.
Greenwashing has long been a problem in the built environment industry. Back in 2012, the AECB’s Annual Members’ Conference was even branded “Never Mind the Greenwash”. Sadly, the problem is still widespread ten years later, despite the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. Research by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that up to 40% of green claims made online in 2021 could be misleading, and the built environment industry is not immune.
According to the UK Green Building Council, the built environment is responsible for approximately 40% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, the 2022 Climate Change Committee report highlighted significant inaction in the industry. Given this reputation, all eyes are on the industry to improve quickly and this is why honest, substantiated messaging must be deployed to disseminate key information to all decision makers. And it is definitely on the CMA’s radar too: last year, the CMA consulted several organisations in the industry on draft consumer protection law guidance for businesses making environmental claims.
In the built environment, greenwashing mainly involves overpromising or misleading clients, homeowners and stakeholders as to the beneficial green effects of products and services. It is not always done intentionally or maliciously but can have real-world consequences.
This is why everyone from product manufacturers to architects; trade associations to developers, and many other types of organisations, have already signed this Charter to demonstrate their public commitment to address the issue and ensure they implement responsible communication practices.
“Ensuring the accuracy of our environmental claims has always been important to us but in putting together our Green Claims Policy we were prompted to think more deeply about the ways in which we communicate our claims and whether they are presented in a way that is clear and comprehensible by all.
It has helped us identify some key areas where we can improve and has given us a way to both drive and record our progress.”
Prospective Charter signatories receive expert support and guidance in how to craft their own Green Claims Policy. For those that highlight the importance of organisational awareness of greenwashing, bespoke training is available.
Eligible organisations also receive a Charter logo to use across digital marketing materials, in order to instill greater confidence in the minds of their stakeholders.
You will commit to clear communication of what sustainability benefit your product or service offers and won’t conceal or omit information.
You will substantiate your sustainability claims with accurate, and regularly evaluated empirical evidence. You’ll commit to sharing facts, figures and statements that can be checked.
You will commit to using fair, clear and unambiguous language when providing comparisons with other products or organisations.
You will ensure you make specific statements about your organisation’s sustainability efforts and that your actions match those promises.
Here are just some of the growing number of organisations that have joined us and made a public declaration to uphold responsible marketing practices.
2 – We will work with you to co-create your own Green Claims Policy, detailing the practices and procedures you will implement in order to adhere to the Charter’s standards.
3 – Once your Green Claims Policy is approved and published, you will then be confirmed as a Charter signatory.
4 – Once confirmed, you organisation will be added to our list of signatories. You can then choose to promote your commitment by purchasing a 12 month license to use the Charter logo across your digital marketing materials.
Please note: It’s free to sign the Charter.
MARKETING PRACTICE QUESTIONNAIRE
Sign the Charter.
To take the first step towards becoming a Charter signatory, please complete the following, brief (two-minute) questionnaire about your organisation’s marketing practices and procedures. We will review your responses and be in touch with next steps.
© 2022. The Anti-Greenwash Charter