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Supporting the construction industry in Scotland to deliver more sustainable projects; reducing carbon and waste, delivering value to the community and improving efficiency

Working to build a sustainable Scotland

The Supply Chain Sustainability School in Scotland provides support to the construction industry to help build skills and knowledge in sustainability.

Learning Resources

Robertson, Balfour Beatty, ISG,Kier, Skanska, BAM and Morgan Sindall are collaborating with other leading contractors, suppliers and industry stakeholders, such as Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and Zero Waste Scotland, to tackle the environmental and social sustainability issues within the Scottish construction industry.

80% of major contractors’ turnover goes to their supply chain, mostly SMEs. The School is funded by major contractors to help develop sustainability skills across Scotland. Our key areas of focus reflect national priorities on sites across Scotland:

  • Drive zero waste and carbon
  • Tackle modern slavery
  • Ensure responsible sourcing
  • Create a culture of fairness, inclusion and respect

Selected resources for Scotland

The School has developed specific resources to help understand and address the sustainability priorities of the construction market in Scotland.

Modern Slavery
Waste and Resource Efficiency
Waste and Resource Efficiency

How the School helps businesses in Scotland

Our Scottish Partners talk about why they joined the Supply Chain Sustainability School and the impact that the School has had on their business in Scotland.

The value of the School in Scotland

What is different about sustainability in Scotland?

The School has developed specific resources to understand and address the sustainability priorities of the construction market in Scotland. There are some major differences in policy and legislation.

Tackling climate change is a key component of the Scottish Government’s aim to create a growing, sustainable and inclusive economy. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 (the 2009 Act) set world-leading greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. In 2018 the Scottish Government introduced a new Climate Change Bill to make the targets even more ambitious. This includes amending the 2020 target to 56% and the 2050 target to 90%. It also sets interim targets of 66% for 2030 and 78% for 2040. Tackling climate change means adjusting to a more resource-efficient and sustainable economic model. In Scotland, this represents a real opportunity to capitalise on our advantages and the strong progress towards de-carbonisation that we have already made, and help Scotland be the most attractive place to do business in Europe.

The Scottish Government aims to make Scotland a zero waste society with a circular economy. This means minimising the population's demand on primary resources and maximising the reuse, recycling and recovery of resources, rather than treating them as waste. The Scottish Government's Zero Waste Plan aims to change how waste is viewed and managed in Scotland. Zero Waste means making the most efficient use of resources by minimising Scotland's demand on primary resources, and maximising the reuse, recycling and recovery of resources instead of treating them as waste. Zero Waste Scotland are one of the School's Partner and they have responsibility for meeting specific national targets set out in The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012:


  • send no more than 5% of remaining waste to landfill

  • reduce total waste arising in Scotland by 15% against 2011 levels

  • recycle 70% of remaining waste

  • match the EU ambition for all plastic packaging to be economically recyclable or reusable by 2030

Community benefit clauses provide a means of achieving sustainability in public contracts. They include targeted recruitment and training, small business and social enterprise development and community engagement.  The Public Procurement Reform Programme delivers value that goes beyond savings and benefits – improving supplier access to public contracts, particularly for SMEs; maximising efficiency and collaboration; and placing the local, social and economic aspects of sustainability at the heart of the purchasing process.

Scottish biodiversity policy is underpinned by the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity.  The aim is to protect and restore biodiversity, support healthy ecosystems, connect people with the natural world, and maximise the benefits of a diverse natural environment and the services it provides, contributing to sustainable economic growth in Scotland.  Scotland’s biodiversity: it’s in your hands, published in September 2004 sets out a strategy for conserving biodiversity in Scotland up to 2030.

Trafficking human beings is an appalling abuse of human rights.  The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act (Scotland) 2015 clarified, strengthened and brought together the existing laws on human trafficking to compliment that the Modern Slavery Act 2015 improved support and protection for victims, helped law enforcement target perpetrators and made sure those involved can be punished. The Act covers England and Wales, but some parts apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Trafficking can involve victims being sexually exploited or forced into the role of a servant, or trapped in forced labour, with nail bars, car washes and construction amongst the industries where potential cases in Scotland have been reported.  Figures from the National Crime Agency show there were 150 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2016.

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 builds on the work of Public Procurement in Scotland. It establishes laws about sustainable public procurement to maximise the social, environmental and economic benefits through effective and efficient procurement activity. Smart use of procurement can play a key role in promoting jobs and growth, encouraging innovation, boosting training and apprenticeship opportunities and helping small and medium enterprises (SME’s) third sector organisations and supported businesses to compete effectively for contracts.

The Real Living Wage in Scotland is currently £9.00 per hour, and is based on cost of living. This is different from the National Living Wage which is £8.21 per hour for those aged 25 (April 2019). Over 470,000 people in Scotland don't earn the real Living Wage. 182,000 children in Scotland live in poverty despite having one person in their household in work.  In-work poverty remains a problem.

In Scotland, ministers are responsible for making building standards (equivalent to the building regulations in England) and the associated technical guidance documents. The Building (Scotland) Act 2003 grants this power.

The 32 Scottish Local Authorities act as verifiers administering the building standards system, granting permissions (building warrants) and completion certificates.

The Scottish Government Building Standards Division monitor the local authorities. The main purpose of the standards is to ensure that buildings are safe, efficient and sustainable. They do not control the building process, but outline the essential standards that are to be met during building works or conversions.

The 2006 Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act brought about the most significant modernisation of the planning system in Scotland in over 60 years.  Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) aims to increase sustainable economic growth, which is the main purpose of the Scottish Government. This means that the planning system should help build a growing economy, but at the same time protect our environment for future generations and make sure that communities can enjoy a better quality of life.  National and local planning policies now include community benefits as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications for renewable energy development. These benefits might include improve infrastructure, job creation and community or shared ownership schemes.

We reward and recognise companies based on their levels of engagement and interaction with the School. Below is an outline of our membership level achievement scheme:

  • Registered: Has created an account but has not undertaken an assessment or viewed any resources or attended any School training

  • Member: Used at least one resource in the past 12 months. This can be either: completing an assessment, coming to one of our events, or accessing an online resource

  • Bronze: Has completed an assessment in the past 12 months and has viewed 5 resources in the past 6 months

  • Silver: Has completed a re-assessment in the past 12 months and has viewed 5 resources in the past 6 months

  • Gold: Has completed a re-assessment in the past 12 months (with an increased knowledge score), has viewed 10 resources in the past 6 months, and has either completed a case study or spoken at an event

Key sustainability topics

Waste and Resource Efficiency

We must now move to a circular rather than linear…

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Modern Slavery

With 40.3 million victims estimated by the Global Slavery Index…

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Energy & Carbon

Climate change is the biggest issue of our times and…

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“The School is an excellent source of knowledge that will enable construction suppliers form across Scotland to better understand the sustainability needs of main contractors and help us to deliver the social and environmental requirements of our clients.”
Martin Dick, Group Procurement, Supply Chain & Sustainability Director, Robertson Group

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Members can enjoy free access to online learning, training workshops and CPD-accredited e-learning modules.
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Our Partners

The School is a collaboration between clients, contractors and suppliers who have a mutual interest in building the skills of their supply chain. They pay for the School, so it's all FREE for you.