Greenwash and the Built Environment.
Greenwashing has been a problem in the built environment industry for some time. 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 standards and is why honest, substantiated messaging must be encouraged to disseminate critical information to all decision makers throughout the industry.
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 it’s encouraging that numerous product manufacturers, architects, trade associations, developers and many other types of organisations in the built environment industry, have already taken proactive steps to address the issue of greenwashing, by publishing a Green Claims Policy and signing the Charter.
By doing so, our signatories have made a public commitment to adhere to our Charter’s Standards and at the same time, better inform their stakeholders about how they implement responsible marketing practices within their organisation.
“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.”
If you decide to join our campaign, you will be offered expert support and guidance in how to craft your own Green Claims Policy, which is required to achieve signatory status.
THE CHARTER’S STANDARDS
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 product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, specifiers, consultants, developers, trade associations and educational institutions; to have joined us and made a public declaration to uphold responsible marketing practices.
How to Become a Charter Signatory.
1 – Complete our brief (two-minute) questionnaire about your organisation and marketing practices. We will review your responses and, if appropriate, send you a Green Claims Policy template.
2 – If required, we will work with you to co-create your own Green Claims Policy, detailing the marketing practices and procedures your organisation will implement in order to adhere to the Charter’s standards.
3 – Once we have reviewed and approved your Green Claims Policy, you will be confirmed as a Charter signatory.
4 – Once confirmed, your organisation will be added to our list of signatories and signatory status declared. You can then choose to further promote your commitment by purchasing a 12 month license to use the Charter logo across your digital marketing materials.
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.
If you have observed greenwashing and wish to inform the CMA about your experience, please email them directly here.
© 2023. The Anti-Greenwash Charter
Green Claims Policy Template
© 2023. The Anti-Greenwash Charter