As signatories of The Anti-Greenwash Charter, Timber Development UK are committed to upholding good standards of responsible marketing practice. The purpose of this policy is to define the standards we adopt throughout our organisation to ensure green claims made about timber products and services are fair and substantiated.
This policy applies to all the forms of marketing and advertising we use, including television, radio, online marketing (including social media and influencer marketing), direct marketing, shopper marketing, packaging, events, trade, sales and other professional promotions and communications.
In addition to this policy, all marketing and communications must at all times comply with the relevant local laws and regulations.
Timber Development UK commit to the standards of communication set out in The Anti Greenwash Charter, and we also require all of our members to abide by these standards, which are as follows:
Transparency: We commit to clear communication of what sustainability benefit our product or service offers and don’t conceal or omit information.
Accountability: We substantiate our sustainability claims with accurate, and regularly evaluated empirical evidence. We commit to sharing facts, figures and statements that can be checked.
Fairness: We commit to using fair, clear and unambiguous language when providing comparisons with other products or organisations.
Honesty: We ensure we make specific statements about our organisation’s sustainability efforts and that our actions match those promises.
We implement the following practices and procedures to ensure we uphold the aforementioned standards:
Where ‘green’ terms are used to describe timber and wood-based products and services, the following key definitions must be applied to ensure our claims are clear and transparent:
Responsibly / Sustainably Sourced: This term can only be used where due diligence has been carried out on the product to confirm it is ‘legal and sustainable’ in accordance with the requirements of the UK Government’s Central Point of Expertise on Timber. This may include ’Certified Timber’, timber imported under a FLEGT licence, or timber assessed under the Framework for evaluating category B evidence.
Certified Timber: Timber meeting the Category A requirements for certified timber under the UK Government’s Central Point of Expertise on Timber. This currently includes Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Grown in Britain (GiB), and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified product with full chain of custody.
Net-Zero Carbon / Net-Zero Whole Life Carbon: Can only be used where a process’s scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero, or to a residual level that is consistent with reaching net-zero emissions at the global or sector level in eligible 1.5°C scenarios or sector pathways and neutralising any residual emissions in the form of carbon removal. For a product or asset (e.g. a building) this would be where the sum of all product or asset related GHG emissions, both operational and embodied, (Modules A1-A5, B1-B7, C1-C4) and offsets (in the form of carbon removals) equal zero. This term should not be used where only part of the product or asset’s life cycle has been assessed.
Low Carbon: Products with a Cradle to Gate Carbon footprint lower than 100kgCO2e/m3, excluding any sequestered carbon within the product (Note: This is currently a Timber Development UK definition, but UK Government is currently investigating a benchmark figure which will be adopted on completion). This can usually be demonstrated through an EPD for the product where the total of A1-A3 GWP emissions are lower than 100kgCO2e/m3. Many timber products will meet these criteria.
Renewable Resource: A natural resource which will replenish to replace the portion depleted by usage and consumption, either through natural reproduction or other recurring processes in a finite amount of time in a human time scale. Responsibly sourced timber and timber based products can be considered a renewable resource.
Terms that should not be used for timber and wood-based products include ‘Carbon Neutral’, ‘Carbon Negative’ and ‘Zero Carbon’.
Appendix 1 contains a glossary of other common sustainability terms and definitions used in the construction sector to describe products and processes. If you come across a term that you do not understand, and can’t find it on this list, please contact the Timber Development UK Sustainability Director at email@example.com for clarification.
In addition to the writer, at least one other Timber Development UK staff member will review every piece of content and their green claims before publication and distribution. When writing content, our team refers to our list of clearly defined terms (see appendix 1) and updates the list when using a new term. We recognise and reward staff members who challenge our green claims.
Evidence & Testing
Where claims are made on a timber or wood-based product’s performance (e.g. U-Value) these claims will be backed up by independent calculation based on independent published data, or where this is not available, product testing at an independent UKAS accredited laboratory.
All new Timber Development UK employees receive an in-house training session on our Green Claims Policy and The Anti-Greenwash Charter, so they fully understand the issues and benefits. We include clear documentation in our employee handbook so all our employees can refer back to it whenever needed. Each year, every employee attends a refresher training session to discuss changes to the policy.
Timber Development UK members are invaluable in our fight against greenwashing, which is why we commit to answering any emails about green claims they may wish to make within three working days. We regularly conduct member audits in accordance with the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) to ensure green claims meet the criteria laid out in this policy. Customer feedback is also used to understand how green claims are interpreted to ensure that they are clearly understandable.
Any members or customers wishing to discuss green claims should contact the Timber Development UK Sustainability Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timber Development UK carry out quarterly internal audits of our content and check all our references are up to date. During this audit, we also check for new developments in the industry that we can benchmark against. Being a signatory of The Anti-Greenwash Charter is a continuous process; as such, we review our marketing practices yearly to ensure we are still compliant with any changes to the Charter.
Governance of this Policy
The Timber Development UK Sustainability Director is responsible for ensuring that our compliance with this Green Claims Policy is reviewed quarterly. Any non-compliance with this policy will be brought to the attention of the Marketing Team, who will decide on further actions and whether the matter should be taken to the Leadership Team. Business area heads are responsible for establishing and following practices, instructions and operating models in line with the Green Claims Policy. The Marketing Team reviews and updates all our marketing policy guidelines.
Appendix 1 – Glossary of Sustainability Terms
Biogenic Carbon: Carbon derived from biomass.
Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e): Unit for comparing the radiative forcing of a greenhouse gas to that of carbon dioxide.
Carbon Footprint: Sum of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG removals in a product system, expressed as CO2 equivalents (CO2e) and based on a life cycle assessment using the single impact category of climate change. The carbon footprint of a house is equivalent to its Whole Life Carbon. The carbon footprint of a brick is equivalent to its Embodied Carbon.
Carbon Negative / Climate Positive: An activity that goes beyond achieving net zero carbon emissions to create a benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Carbon Neutral: A carbon neutral footprint is one where the sum of Scope 1 & 2 greenhouse gas emissions produced is offset by natural carbon sinks and/or carbon credits.
Carbon Offset: Mechanism for compensating Embodied or Operational Carbon through the prevention of the release of, reduction in, or removal of an amount of greenhouse gas emissions in a process outside the product system under study.
Carbon Positive: How organizations sometimes describe Carbon Negative or Climate Positive. As it is confusing, we don’t recommend its use.
Carbon Removal: Activities that remove and durably store atmospheric CO2. Can be biological (e.g. reforestation) or technical (e.g. sequestering carbon deep underground).
Carbon Sequestration: The process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in a stable long-term carbon reservoir (e.g. within the timber of a tree).
Embodied Carbon: GHG emissions associated with the material, construction, maintenance and demolition processes throughout the whole life cycle of an asset (Modules A1-A5, B1-B5, C1-C4).
Low Carbon: Products with a Cradle to Gate (Modules A1-A3) Carbon footprint lower than 100kgCO2e/m3, excluding any sequestered biogenic carbon within the product.
Net-Zero Carbon: Where a process’s scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero, or to a residual level that is consistent with reaching net-zero emissions at the global or sector level in eligible 1.5°C scenarios or sector pathways and neutralising any residual emissions in the form of carbon removal.
Net Zero Embodied Carbon: A ‘Net Zero Embodied Carbon’ asset is one where the sum of embodied GHG emissions (Modules A1-A5, B1-B5 & C1-C4) and offsets (in the form of carbon removal) equals zero.
Net Zero Whole Life Carbon: A ‘Net Zero Whole Life Carbon’ asset is one where the sum of all asset related GHG emissions, both operational and embodied, (Modules A1-A5, B1-B7, C1-C4) and offsets (in the form of carbon removal) equals zero.
Operational Carbon: GHG emissions arising from all energy and water consumed by an asset in use, as projected or measured, over its life cycle (Modules B6-B7).
Upfront Carbon: GHG emissions associated with materials and construction processes up to practical completion (so product manufacture, transport and construction) (Modules A1-A5).
Whole Life Carbon: Sum total of all asset related GHG emissions, both operational and embodied over the life cycle of an asset including its disposal. Whole Life Carbon = Operational Carbon + Embodied Carbon (Modules A1-A5, B1-B7, C1-C4). The potential benefit from future energy recovery, reuse, and recycling (Module D) is reported separately.
Zero Carbon: Causing or resulting in no release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Biomass: Material of biological origin excluding material embedded in geological and/or fossilized formations.
Circular Economy: An economy that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.
Element: Part of a construction containing a defined combination of construction products (e.g. ground floor, roof, external wall).
Element Unit Quantity (EUQ): A unit of measurement that relates solely to the quantity of the element or sub-element itself (e.g. the area of the external walls, the area of windows and external doors and the number of internal doors).
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD): An EPD provides environmental information about a product in a standardised format using an consistent methodology. For construction products in Europe, the European standard EN 15804 provides the format and methodology.
Global Warming: A gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants
Greenhouse Gas (GHG): Gaseous constituent of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorbs and emits radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere, and clouds.
Gross Internal Area (GIA): Gross internal area is the area of a building measured to the internal face of the perimeter walls at each floor level.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.
Radiative Forcing: An externally imposed perturbation in the radiative energy budget of the Earth’s climate system – causes global warming.
Renewable Resource: A natural resource which will replenish to replace the portion depleted by usage and consumption, either through natural reproduction or other recurring processes in a finite amount of time in a human time scale.
BS EN 15804:2012+A1:2013 & BS EN 15804:2012+A2:2019 Sustainability of construction works. Environmental product declarations. Core rules for the product category of construction products.
BS EN 15978:2011 Sustainability of construction works. Assessment of environmental performance of buildings. Calculation method.
BS EN 16485:2014 Round and sawn timber. Environmental Product Declarations. Product category rules for wood and wood-based products for use in construction.