Engineering & Construction Services

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Current language: English
The Engineering & Construction Services industry provides engineering, construction, design, consulting, contracting and other related services that support various building and infrastructure projects. The industry has four major segments: engineering services, infrastructure construction, non-residential building construction, and building subcontractors and construction-related professional services. The infrastructure construction segment includes entities that design or build infrastructure projects such as power plants, dams, oil and gas pipelines, refineries, highways, bridges, tunnels, railways, ports, airports, waste treatment plants, water networks and stadiums. The non-residential building construction segment includes entities that design or build industrial and commercial facilities such as factories, warehouses, data centres, offices, hotels, hospitals, universities and retail spaces such as shopping centres. The engineering services segment includes entities that provide specialised architectural and engineering services such as design and development of feasibility studies for many of the project types listed above. Finally, the building subcontractors and other construction-related professional services segment includes smaller entities that provide ancillary services such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting, waterproofing, landscaping, interior design and building inspection. The industry’s customers include infrastructure owners and developers in the public and private sectors. Large entities in this industry operate and generate revenue globally and typically operate in more than one segment.

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.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Engineering & Construction Services

Ecological Impacts
  • 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.
Product Quality & Safety
  • 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.
Employee Health & Safety
  • Workforce Health & Safety

    Construction, maintenance and repair services and other on-site activities require substantial manual labour. Fatality and injury rates in the Engineering & Construction Services industry are high compared with those in other industries because 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 because of a lack of training or industry experience. Failing to protect worker health and safety can result in fines and penalties; serious incidents may result in acute, one-time extraordinary expenses and contingent liabilities from legal or regulatory actions. In addition, health and safety incidents may result in project delays and downtime that increase project costs and decrease profitability. Entities that seek to train both permanent and temporary employees professionally and build a strong safety culture may reduce their risk profile while potentially gaining a competitive advantage in new project bids and proposals because of good workforce health and safety statistics.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • 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.
Business Ethics
  • Business Ethics

    Entities in the industry face risks associated with bribery, corruption and anti-competitive practices. Several factors contribute to these risks, including global operations, managing many local agents and subcontractors, project financing and project permitting complexity, the magnitude of the contracts involved in building large infrastructure projects, and the competitive process to secure contracts with private and public entities. Ethical breaches may result in regulatory authority investigations, as well as large fines, settlement costs and damaged reputations. Such breaches may include violations of anti-bribery laws, such as paying government officials to gain project contracts. They also may include unethical bidding practices, such as complementary bidding (for example, submitting an artificially high or otherwise unacceptable bid for a contract that a bidder does not intend to win) and bid-pooling (for example, coordinating to split contracts and ensure each bidder is awarded a specific amount of work). Moreover, entities with poor track records may be barred from 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 business ethics risks.

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