The UK Contractors Group (UKCG), which accounts for one-third of the country’s construction turnover, has agreed a new timber environmental procurement policy, giving equal weight to FSC and PEFC certification schemes. To demonstrate compliance, a sign bearing both logos will be displayed at construction sites.

The Group’s 30-plus members comprise most of the biggest names in the UK contractor sector; including Wilmott Dixon, Balfour Beatty, Kier Group, Lend Lease and Wates. Their combined sales top £33bn a year.

They have now made a pledge to ensure all materials they use are from “responsible sources” and to “support and give preference to procuring products which are able to demonstrate compliance with a recognised sourcing scheme, certified by a third party”.

To implement the policy the UKCG is issuing detailed statements on specific materials and the first is for timber. This is partly because of increased concern over timber sourcing triggered by the anti-illegal wood EU Timber Regulation coming in next March, but also said UKCG director Steven Ratcliffe because the industry has certification and legality verification systems in place.

“To be honest, it is the easiest material to start with,” he said.

The wood procurement guidance follows that of the government’s Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET). This accepts the certification schemes of the FSC, PEFC and the PEFC-endorsed North American SFI, Canadian CSA and Malaysian MTCS as proof of timber legality and sustainability.

“This was influenced by the Olympic Delivery Authority’s decision to adopt CPET guidelines, as many of our members also worked on the Games site,” said Mr Ratcliffe.

The UKCG policy, he added, covers all construction-related timber, bar pallets and packaging material.

The move has been strongly welcomed by PEFC UK national secretary Alun Watkins.

“UK timber companies are already familiar with CPET [guidelines],” he said. “In choosing to adopt an inclusive timber procurement policy, UKCG member companies have made it easier for suppliers to meet their requirements on timber sourcing.”

The decision, he said, would also help drive forward the adoption of green building rating systems, which give credits for the use of certified timber.

The UKCG timber statement tells contractors what to look for on a certificate and includes basic instructions on CoC. The new triangular sign with the FSC and PEFC logos will be displayed at site entrances to let delivery drivers and subcontractors know that the project requires certified, CoC-supported material.