Relevant Issues (5 of 26)
Why are some issues greyed out?The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.
- GHG Emissions
- Air Quality
- Energy Management
- Water & Wastewater Management
- Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
Ecological ImpactsThe category addresses management of the company’s impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity through activities including, but not limited to, land use for exploration, natural resource extraction, and cultivation, as well as project development, construction, and siting. The impacts include, but are not limited to, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, and deforestation at all stages – planning, land acquisition, permitting, development, operations, and site remediation. The category does not cover impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Human Rights & Community Relations
- Customer Privacy
- Data Security
- Access & Affordability
Product Quality & SafetyThe category addresses issues involving unintended characteristics of products sold or services provided that may create health or safety risks to end-users. It addresses a company’s ability to offer manufactured products and/or services that meet customer expectations with respect to their health and safety characteristics. It includes, but is not limited to, issues involving liability, management of recalls and market withdrawals, product testing, and chemicals/content/ingredient management in products.
- Customer Welfare
- Selling Practices & Product Labeling
- Labor Practices
Employee Health & SafetyThe category addresses a company’s ability to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment that is free of injuries, fatalities, and illness (both chronic and acute). It is traditionally accomplished through implementing safety management plans, developing training requirements for employees and contractors, and conducting regular audits of their own practices as well as those of their subcontractors. The category further captures how companies ensure physical and mental health of workforce through technology, training, corporate culture, regulatory compliance, monitoring and testing, and personal protective equipment.
- Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion
Business Model and Innovation
Product Design & Lifecycle ManagementThe category addresses incorporation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in characteristics of products and services provided or sold by the company. It includes, but is not limited to, managing the lifecycle impacts of products and services, such as those related to packaging, distribution, use-phase resource intensity, and other environmental and social externalities that may occur during their use-phase or at the end of life. The category captures a company’s ability to address customer and societal demand for more sustainable products and services as well as to meet evolving environmental and social regulation. It does not address direct environmental or social impacts of the company’s operations nor does it address health and safety risks to consumers from product use, which are covered in other categories.
- Business Model Resilience
- Supply Chain Management
- Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
- Physical Impacts of Climate Change
Leadership and Governance
Business EthicsThe category addresses the company’s approach to managing risks and opportunities surrounding ethical conduct of business, including fraud, corruption, bribery and facilitation payments, fiduciary responsibilities, and other behavior that may have an ethical component. This includes sensitivity to business norms and standards as they shift over time, jurisdiction, and culture. It addresses the company’s ability to provide services that satisfy the highest professional and ethical standards of the industry, which means to avoid conflicts of interest, misrepresentation, bias, and negligence through training employees adequately and implementing policies and procedures to ensure employees provide services free from bias and error.
- Competitive Behavior
- Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment
- Critical Incident Risk Management
- Systemic Risk Management
Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Engineering & Construction Services
Environmental Impacts of Project Development
Infrastructure construction projects improve economic and social development; however, they also may pose risks to the local environment and surrounding communities. Industry activities can disrupt local ecosystems through biodiversity impacts, air emissions, water discharges, natural resource consumption, waste generation and hazardous chemicals use. Construction entities perform clearing, grading and excavation activities and may generate harmful waste during project construction. Effectively assessing environmental impacts before construction may mitigate unforeseen issues that may increase operational expenses and capital costs. In some cases, environmental concerns or local community pushback may result in project delays and, in extreme cases, project cancellations, which may affect an entity’s profitability and growth opportunities. Failure to comply with environmental regulations during construction may result in costly fines and remediation costs, and it can damage an entity’s reputation. Environmental impact assessments can provide an understanding of a project’s potential environmental impacts and necessary mitigation activities before it begins. Likewise, proper management of environmental risks during project construction may reduce regulatory oversight or community pushback. By assessing environmental considerations before project initiation, as well as continuing to evaluate them during project development, engineering and construction entities may be prepared to mitigate potential environmental issues and the associated financial risks that may occur, while also establishing a competitive advantage for obtaining new contracts with prospective clients.
Structural Integrity & Safety
Whether providing engineering, design, architectural, consulting, inspection, construction or maintenance services, entities in this industry have a professional responsibility to ensure the safety and integrity of their work. Errors or inadequate quality in the project design phase and construction of buildings or infrastructure may result in significant personal injury, loss of property value and economic harm. Entities that manage structural integrity and safety poorly may incur incremental costs because of redesign or repair work and legal liabilities, as well as reputational damage that could hurt growth prospects. Moreover, when designing and constructing buildings or infrastructure, entities in the industry increasingly must contemplate potential climate change impacts, which may affect the project’s structural integrity and public safety. Compliance with minimum applicable codes and standards may not be enough to maintain and grow reputational value (or even mitigate legal liabilities) in some circumstances, especially if the frequency and severity of climate-change-related events increases as expected. Meeting or exceeding new industry quality standards, and setting up internal control procedures to identify and fix potential design issues, including those resulting from climate risks, are practices that may help entities reduce these risks.
Workforce Health & Safety
Construction, maintenance and repair services, and other on-site activities require a substantial amount of manual labour. Fatality and injury rates in the Engineering & Construction Services industry are high compared with those in other industries as a result of the workforce’s exposure to powered haulage and heavy machinery accidents, fall accidents, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and other unique and potentially dangerous situations. Additionally, temporary workers may be at a higher risk due to lack of training or industry experience. Failing to protect worker health and safety can result in fines and penalties; serious incidents can lead to acute, one-time extraordinary expenses and contingent liabilities from legal and/or regulatory actions. In addition, health and safety incidents can result in project delays and downtime that raise project costs and lower profitability. Entities that seek to properly train both permanent and temporary employees and build a strong safety culture could reduce their risk profile while potentially gaining a competitive advantage in new project bids and proposals as a result of strong workforce health and safety track records.
Lifecycle Impacts of Buildings & Infrastructure
Buildings and major infrastructure projects are among the largest users of natural resources in the economy; during construction, these materials include iron and steel products, cement, concrete, bricks, drywall, wallboards, glass, insulation, fixtures, doors, and cabinetry, among others. Once completed, and during their daily use, these projects often consume significant amounts of resources in the form of energy and water (for a discussion on direct environmental impacts from project construction see the Environmental Impacts of Project Development topic). Therefore, the sourcing of construction materials and the everyday use of buildings and infrastructure may contribute to direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, global or local resource constraints, water stress and negative human health outcomes. Client and regulatory pressures to develop a sustainable built environment are contributing to the growth of markets intended to reduce the lifecycle impacts of buildings and infrastructure projects. In response, various international sustainable building and infrastructure certification schemes assess, among other aspects, a project’s use-phase energy and water efficiency, impacts on human health, and the use of sustainable construction and building materials. As a result, various opportunities are being created for industries in the value chain—from suppliers that can provide such materials, to entities in the Engineering & Construction Services industry that can provide sustainability-oriented project design, consulting and construction services. Such services can provide a competitive advantage and revenue growth opportunities as client demand for economically advantageous sustainable projects increases and related regulations evolve. Entities unable to effectively integrate such considerations into their services may lose market share in the long term.
Climate Impacts of Business Mix
Engineering & Construction Services industry clients may be exposed to potentially disruptive climate regulation as well as those that mitigate climate change. Some types of construction projects are significant climate change contributors because of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during their use phase. Projects that may contribute to global GHG emissions include those in extractive industries, as well as large buildings. Whereas some infrastructure projects, such as renewable energy projects, are designed to reduce GHG emissions, many types of projects present trade-offs. Mass transit systems, for example, may contribute to GHG emissions while reducing net emissions once the benefits offered by the system are factored. Several entities in the industry generate a substantial share of revenue and profits from clients in carbon-intensive industries and whose future capital investments may be at risk because of evolving climate regulations. Downside risks may manifest through project delays, cancellations and diminished long-term revenue growth opportunities. On the other hand, entities that specialise in infrastructure projects that contribute to GHG mitigation could develop competitive advantages as they continue to focus on these growing markets. As the industry and its customers continue to operate within an uncertain business environment and face increasing environmental and regulatory requirements, assessing and communicating the risks and opportunities stemming from climate change that are embedded in an entity’s backlog and future business prospects may help investors in assessing the overall business impact of climate change.
Entities in the industry face risks associated with bribery, corruption, and anti-competitive practices. This is due to several factors, including the global operations of many entities, the need to manage multiple local agents and subcontractors, the complexity of project financing and project permitting, the magnitude of the contracts involved in building large infrastructure projects, and the competitive process necessary to secure contracts with private and public entities. Ethical breaches can result in investigations by authorities, as well as large fines, settlement costs, and damaged reputations. Such breaches may include violations of anti-bribery laws, such as paying government officials in order to gain project contracts. They may also include unethical bidding practices, such as complementary bidding (e.g., submitting an artificially high or otherwise unacceptable bid for a contract that a bidder does not intend to win) and bid-pooling (e.g., coordinating to split contracts and assure each bidder is awarded a certain amount of work). Moreover, entities with poor track records can be barred from working on future projects, resulting in lost revenue. Developing an ethical culture through employee training, effective governance structures, and internal controls is critical for entities to mitigate risks associated with business ethics.