Sustainable Constructional Steel

What is Sustainable Constructional Steel certification?

The CARES Sustainable Constructional Steels (SCS) scheme is a UKAS accredited, independent and impartial certification scheme with the objective of improving the environmental, social and economic management of steel manufacturers and processors as well as improving the performance of products. Launched in 2009 as part of our commitment to constantly seek ways to improve the steel industry, we released its 9th version in 2020 to help deliver more sustainable construction and infrastructure across the entire global supply chain.

These products include reinforcing carbon steel, reinforcing stainless steel, feedstock steel for further processing, structural steels, hot rolled flat steel, steel rail, PC wire, PC strand and other steels used in construction and infrastructure. It applies to primary manufacturers of steel and fabricators who process steel into building products used in construction projects.

Informed by stakeholder input, the goal of the scheme is to provide a robust and transparent mechanism which clearly, and simply, communicates the overall sustainability performance of constructional steel products to designers, specifiers and clients. Minimum mandatory requirements provide the baseline with credit requirements incentivising and recognising better performance.

Value of the scheme

Constructional steel forms a significant part of any major construction project. The supply chain for constructional steel: raw materials, production, distribution, processing and delivery to a construction site, is complex. At each stage in the supply chain, steel is transferred from one company to another. Confidence within purchasing and effective local management of the supply chain are essential to ensure construction projects are delivered on time, on budget and to specification.

Constructional steel manufacturers and processors are coming under increasing pressure to take proactive steps which reflect the environmental, social, ethical and economic impacts of their operations and products. Buyers’ purchasing decisions are increasingly driven by efforts to ensure positive impacts and reduce any negative social, environmental and economic impacts.

The CARES approach relies on responsible sourcing of raw materials, full product traceability and a digital record, providing a 'chain of custody,' across the entire process from manufacturer to the end-user. It provides confidence to client’s procurement teams, specifiers and construction consultants that the certification process has verified a broad range of requirements without them having to repeat any part of the process. Certified performance data is available to them to inform their decision making.  

Company-specific verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

One key feature and benefit of the CARES Sustainability Scheme is independently validated carbon footprint data and an advanced Lifecycle assessment (LCA) calculator that provides company-specific verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD’s) to the EN 15804 standard. Further to CARES validation of the data, BRE Global provide an additional, 3rd party and independent, layer of verification with all EPD reports published on BRE Global’s ‘GreenBookLive’ website.  

Scheme basis and principles

The concept of ‘Materiality’ – the issues and impacts that are most significant and relevant to each organisation and their stakeholders along the entire value chain – is used to inform the selection and prioritisation of issue management. Companies must demonstrate effective, systematic management of these (and other relevant issues) as well as improved performance. Stakeholder inclusion and opinion must be regularly monitored and outcomes of the stakeholder engagement should be communicated in support of continuous improvement in sustainability performance.

The scheme builds on the full product traceability requirements defined by its product certification schemes. The principles from BS 8902; inclusivity, integrity, stewardship and transparency provide the basis for the CARES SCS Scheme and it’s accreditation. Companies must demonstrate how these are incorporated into their management practices. They are also assessed against a series of criteria covering ethical, environment; social and economic impacts. Companies are required to report and demonstrate continual improvement in their sustainability performance. Companies can map themselves against a maturity matrix according to BS 8902, which provides characteristics that demonstrate an evolution of management practices, enabling organisations to track their progress over time.

List of CARES SCS scheme stakeholders:

  • Construction Industry Specifiers
  • Construction Industry Contractors
  • Building and Infrastructure Users
  • Steel Manufacturers (Producers)
  • Construction Steel Products Manufacturers (Processors/Fabricators)
  • CARES Board
  • CARES SCS Scheme Sustainability Committee Members
  • CARES Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) members and Chair’s nominees
  • CARES staff and contractors
  • Steel industry bodies, including World Steel Association
  • Construction industry bodies like the Construction Products Association (CPA)
  • World Green Building Council and regional Green Building Councils
  • Construction industry evaluation and certification bodies, including BREEAM, LEED, ESTIDAMA, PEARL, GREENSTAR, AL-SAFAT, GSAS and other regional organisations that manage building design criteria and evaluations
  • Accreditation bodies including UKAS, SAC and HKAS
  • Competitor Certification Bodies
  • Broader construction materials industry bodies and companies
  • Communities near steel manufacturers, processors and suppliers
  • Non-Governmental Organisations representing environmental, social and economic interests
  • Governments and politicians
  • Workers within the construction and steel industries
  • Clients, specifiers and users of buildings and infrastructure
  • Enforcement agencies that represent compliance interests relating to environmental, occupational health and safety and other sustainability aspects
  • Standard development organisations
  • Sustainability Practitioners
  • 3rd party verification bodies for EPDs
  • Building research bodies and standards developers, e.g. BRE
  • Scientific and academic bodies
  • Broader certification programs like ResponsibleSteel
  • Initiatives to drive performance improvement like SteelZero and Race to Zero

Accreditation and recognitions

CARES SCS scheme is accredited to BS 8902 (Responsible Sourcing Sector Certification Schemes for Construction Products) by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

The World Steel Association (worldsteel) has recognised CARES’ contribution to its global climate action campaign.

BREEAM is the second largest green building rating system in the world. The CARES Sustainability Scheme has been assessed and recognised by BRE Global, against the requirements for responsible sourcing. Having SCS certification provides points under the BREEAM New Construction 2018, BREEAM International New Construction 2021 and CEEQUAL Version 6 (See details in GN18: BREEAM Recognised Responsible Sourcing Certification Schemes and BREEAM Scheme Applicability). CARES verified EPD’s are acceptable evidence and provides points under the LEED Building assessment methodology. CARES satisfies the requirements of the CIC Green Product Certification (ex-Carbon Labelling Scheme) in Hong-Kong and Singapore Green Building Product Certification; and products certified by CARES SCS Scheme can be used as inputs for the certification’s applications. 

It is specified across major projects in the UK, Middle-East and Asia.

What are the prerequisites for sustainable steel certification?

  • Product conformity certificate(s): Responsibility for the sustainable constructional steel supply chain placed upon a core benefit of SCS product for reinforcing concrete, or for its use in a built structure. There are also other attributes relating to a product’s performance, e.g. strength and ductility, which are stated in relevant product standard, and hence constitute the 'specified product'. Those must be demonstrated with relevant product conformity certification of steel for the reinforcement of concrete and/or feedstock material for the production of steel for the reinforcement of concrete; or factory production control certificate in case of structural steels and hot rolled flat steels.
  • Quality management system certified to ISO 9001
  • Environmental management system certified to ISO 14001
  • Health and safety management system certified to ISO 45001
  • A traceability mechanism: upstream back to suppliers; downstream to end users, controlled blending ISO 22095 Chain of custody - General terminology and models in production and identity preserved Chain of Custody model from production to use in construction site.

How do you achieve certification?

Companies eligible to apply for certification by fulfilling the prerequisite requirements begin the assessment procedure with a detailed review of theirapplication declarations and scope Sustainability Management System Manual (or equivalent documented evidence against the requirements of CARES’ SCS Scheme. The company’s product conformity, quality, environmental, health and safety and sustainability management systems are all reviewed. A two-stage audit process is carried out. This includes a thorough review of evidence and the verification of data on site against a self-assessment workbook. This includes a series of Key Performance Indicators and the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) dataset. Our auditors audit up to 140 criteria. These have been developed by a group of industry and sustainability experts to cover the entire supply chain from raw materials, through production of the constructional steel, its processing, to the delivery of the finished product to the construction site.

The auditing team may comprise one or more auditors depending upon the size and complexity of the company’s activities. After a successful assessment, recommendation of certification and the payment of fees, a Certificate of Approval will be issued.

The supplier remains responsible for compliance with legal requirements, voluntary commitments (for example compliance with the ILO standards, the declaration of human rights, its own public commitments) and standards and applying best practices as far as is reasonably practicable. The scheme provides credits for achievements beyond compliance and minimum thresholds. Credits can be gained for performance that meets specified criteria above the mandatory certification level as part of the CARES ‘Rosette Rating System’. Beyond basic certification, there are 4 additional performance levels reflecting good, better, best practice and aspirational ‘sustainable’ steel (1, 2, 3 or 4 Rosettes). The 4th Rosette represents a transition pathway approach to improvement towards science and context-based performance levels. The ‘4 Rosette Rating’ requires near zero emission steel production, responsible sourcing, good safety record, sustainably produced and processed constructional steel, with a digital record. Its introduction was part of a series of improvements, developed through extensive consultation and introduced within the new version 9 of the scheme.

CARES collects, audits, collates and reports the sector sustainability performance data in line with requirements set out in BS 8902 - Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products and the Scheme Principles.

Please contact us to obtain guidance if you wish to apply or discuss the scheme.

Why choose CARES? 

As an independent profit for purpose company CARES is completely focussed on the quality of the products and processes we certify. Together with the wider constructional steel industry and other stakeholders, CARES has developed an objective and workable approach to the identification, collection, auditing and reporting of sustainability data and management system processes to deliver continual performance improvement. The Scheme uses industry best practice and International Standards throughout the whole constructional steel supply chain.

Achieving certification to CARES SCS requires considerable effort and commitment from a company. It is often the beginning of improved processes and business performance. CARES provide free marketing support to promote successful certification and allows a certificated company to display the relevant CARES "sustainability mark" on publicity and stationery. All certified companies are automatically included in the CARES Certified Companies section of this website.

Having invested so much time and business resource in a management system which includes the requirements of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 as well as rigorously reviewing and controlling processes to a level which assures consistent achievement of product compliance, there is enormous value in entrusting this assessment to a certification body that understands and is highly experienced in constructional steel products, processes and supply chain.

We know that a business relationship is based on mutual trust and understanding. Our experts who have hands on experience in this industry work alongside our customers to get under the skin of their operations ensuring we always deliver the quality assurance that our brand stands for. The CARES difference is the guarantee of an independent and impartial review and the unrivalled knowledge provided by our specialist team to help deliver more sustainable construction and infrastructure across the entire global supply chain

CARES SCS Scheme Manual  

The scheme requirements are defined in the CARES SCS Scheme Manual version 8 and version 9.

CARES SCS Scheme Yearly Reports  

2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

CARES SCS Scheme Audit Results  

2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015.