Focus on CSR: What Is Driving CSR?

Below is a list of six top trends on the horizon which could be unfolding in your marketplace and driving CSR in construction and other sectors. They might not all be relevant, but as you go through this list, identify those which could be important to your company’s success over the next few years. Any one of these trends, or a group of them, could become risks or opportunities for your business—pointing the way to future benefits if they can be addressed by your CSR improvements. Industry leaders and our stakeholders suggest these trends are worth paying attention to—and getting ahead of!

Client Demand

There is a growing demand for greener and socially responsible projects on the part of customers, especially municipalities and other public sector organizations

  • This is how things are changing. Society will snap over and if you aren’t on board clients won’t bother calling you. One day soon CSR will be grounds for disqualification if you are not doing it (industry representative)
  • As a buyer we have a belief that if companies do more in CSR, they are a well-managed company and can help us achieve our CSR goals such as safety, First Nations and greenhouse gas (GHG) management (private sector buyer)

Community and Public Expectations

There are rising expectations of communities and the general public that business contribute community and social benefits. As construction is very visible to public these rising expectations are especially significant

  • CSR is an established business practice. More and more companies and industry sectors are adopting and improving their CSR practices creating expectations for the construction sector. CSR is becoming more of a reality (industry representative)

Changing Workforce

Labour shortages and millennial employees will create pressure for improved CSR practices to attract, retain and engage employees

  • We find that there is a lot of desire for corporate responsibility especially among our millennial employees (industry representative)
  • There is a trend to diversifying the workforce,to hiring women and immigrants (industry representative)
  • There is a strong push to prepare for an aging workforce, creating the opportunity to hire apprenticeships (industry representative)

Green Building

The market penetration of green buildings in Canada has been growing over the last decade and is expected to continue. New research that links office design to staff health, well-being and productivity is likely to drive interest in healthy buildings in future

  • There is a growing demand for green buildings in our portfolio, whether LEED or BOMA (private sector buyer)
  • We have a high percentage of our buildings that are certified to some kind of standard; pension funds tend to look at those certifications and see benefits in terms of the quality of the tenants they can attract and operating costs over the long term;I see it growing as a trend (investor)

Climate Change

Climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy is likely to increase physical, regulatory and brand impacts

  • There is a lot of embedded energy in materials used in construction; there will be a focus on how to minimize and reduce the carbon in the materials (industry representative)
  • The federal government will be expecting more rigorous accounting of energy and emissions performance in the building sector; if the government building standards are not doing enough to address larger community issues, this could be a driver (investor)
  • I can see certain practices becoming a tendering issue, e.g. a requirement to have the most energy-efficient equipment (industry representative)

Legislation and Regulation

Changes to building codes and bylaws over the next decade are expected to raise environmental and safety standards and improve the social and environmental impacts of construction

  • Government will likely be evaluating community benefits in future and imposing/regulating green standards on the industry (public sector buyer)
  • As provincial governments update their climate action plans to address the federal government’s climate commitments they will expect improved performance from the building sector; builders will need to start tracking, measuring and reporting to their customers who may face regulatory requirements—there will be a trickle down effect on the builder (private sector buyer)

To learn more, download Corporate Social Responsibility in the Canadian Construction Sector: A Practical Guide to CSR from the Member login section.