Social Value Is Changing The Way We View Construction - Here Is What You Need To Know
The concept of ‘social value’ has been making headlines for quite a while and is a hot topic of conversation among decision-makers in many industries - among them, construction. But what exactly is meant by social value and how is it affecting construction? Find the answers in this article.
What Is Social Value In Construction?
The term social value refers to the creation of benefits in various spheres of society, from the environment to the economy. In other words, it implies making a wider contribution beyond profits. It also requires an awareness of the overall impact of corporate actions, and therefore puts increased responsibility on companies and decision makers.
Social value is more than a concept, as it’s encapsulated into government legislation. In the UK, the Social Value Act came into effect in 2013 and with it came a requirement to incorporate social value into procurement. Essentially, what this act does is place responsibility on public sector organisations to consider social value before awarding service contracts for construction, maintenance, and improvement works.
Social Value In Action In The Construction Industry
The Social Value Act has several practical aspects that carry implications for the construction industry. Here, the focus is on actions that contribute to social, economic, and environmental well-being. It’s important to note that those actions should extend beyond the actual construction project to the wider community.
For example, a clear indicator of the social value of a new construction project is whether it creates jobs and therefore helps bring prosperity to the local community. This social value could be further increased if the project employs people with disabilities or from disadvantaged communities, or creates opportunities for neuro diverse workers. In this area of social value, there are already some success stories in industry and manufacturing.
Sustainability and its impact on personal and social well-being are equally important factors. These aspects aren’t new, since the UK has already taken some steps in this direction with WELL building standards and LEED certifications. However, sustainability takes higher precedence in view of the pressures created by climate change and the UK’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050, which in practice means an increase in the use of sustainable materials (such as ethically-sourced timber) or the creation of community-led green spaces at the heart of new building developments.
How To Measure Social Value?
2020 data suggest that approximately 25% of the overall score for a procurement contract comes from the social value of the project in question. Given its central role in procurement, how can we determine the social value of a specific construction project?
There are some objective indicators, such as reduced carbon emissions, which can be measured and quantified. However, there’s also a strong qualitative side to the assessment of social value. After all, we’re talking about quantifying positive impact on people’s lives and the environment, and that cannot always be done through numbers. For example, what numerical value would you give to finding a job or feeling in control of your life?
Such valuations can be done and have been attempted, but they don’t always reflect the true impact of an action.
This is why the output of social value is measured using primarily qualitative or subjective methods, which should be obtained by paying attention to the individual narratives that portray the impact of construction companies and how value is perceived by the beneficiaries.
Our Commitment To Social Value
At SC4 Carpentry, we primarily work with private sector clients, but social value is still paramount to us, and we always strive to incorporate it in every project we undertake. We do this by offering equal opportunities, taking on apprentices, and participating in community improvement initiatives through volunteering and supporting local charities.
You can read more about what social value means to us in a previous blog post we wrote about this topic.
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