Construction industry body embeds sustainability in its standard form contracts

United Kingdom

Following a period of consultation with the construction industry, the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) is in the process of rolling out new and specific wording to address sustainability in Revision 2 of its 2005 contracts (along with other changes, click here for the full article).

Background

Last year, having identified sustainability as a key issue, the JCT conducted preliminary discussions with senior industry figures on the subject. As a result of those discussions, the JCT launched a consultation to gauge industry opinion on how to deal with sustainability in construction contracts and ultimately the issue of how sustainability should be addressed in JCT contracts.

The findings of the consultation were published earlier this year in a guidance note called Building a sustainable future together. It revealed that there was an appetite in the industry for introducing express but limited contractual provisions on sustainability (either in the contract conditions, as a schedule to the conditions or in other contractual documentation), and that detailed requirements should be contained in the project specification rather than in the contract. The guidance note also sought to address the feeling amongst participants that guidance was needed for tackling sustainability in contractual documentation, by setting out assistance in this area.
 
Sustainability in Revision 2

The sustainability wording in Revision 2 is intended to provide a flexible framework under which the parties can incorporate sustainability provisions, whilst responding to the current needs of the industry as revealed in the consultation.

It is located in the schedule of Supplemental Provisions, which is to apply unless the contract is amended to state that it does not. The JCT’s intention is that the provisions of the schedule should apply unless a JCT Framework Agreement is already in place or other contractual arrangements deal with the same issues.

The sustainability wording encourages the contractor to suggest economically viable changes to the works, which might result in environmental benefits to the works or the lifecycle of the building. For example, this could involve the contractor revisiting the technical specification, where the detailed requirements for the project are to be found, and recommending the use of a particular clean technology (or “cleantech”) if appropriate. The wording also requires contractors to provide the employer with information on the environmental impact of the materials they select and use. 

It is good that the JCT has responded to the construction industry’s request for limited standard sustainability provisions to be included in their contracts. Now these first steps have been taken, the JCT will have an opportunity to consider this area in more detail in due course.