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On leadership, sustainability & certification

Canary Wharf Group are one of an increasing number of developers who choose FSC Full Project Certification as one of the ways to embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on all projects, through their timber supply chain. Martin Gettings, Head of Sustainability at Canary Wharf Group, explains the 'how' and 'why' of their chosen pathway.

What made the Canary Wharf Group choose to build more sustainably?

Sustainability has been built in to Canary Wharf since day one. At Canary Wharf Group we integrate sustainability aspects into every part of our developments, from planning and design right through to construction and management. For Canary Wharf Group the choice is clear – building healthy, sustainable developments benefits not only the environment, but the community and the economy as well. FSC specifically provides a level of trust and credibility that allows us to procure the most robustly certified timber, so we and our customers and tenants can be sure we are using the most sustainable possible products. Because FSC has aligned themselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, an added advantage is that when you implement Full Project Certification, you have an SDG compliant supply chain. That’s why we signed the Vancouver Declaration in 2017, and why we remain committed to FSC Full Project Certification as one of the ways to embed the SDGs on all our projects, through our timber supply chain.

Were you aware of FSC Certification prior to adopting this strategy?

Canary Wharf Group has been using FSC certified timber on our developments for the past 10 years, so it has been very much embedded in our procurement strategy.  We use timber extensively across all of our developments, in highly visible structures like the Crossrail Place roof but also in temporary works, formworks and hoarding. It is very important to us and our customers and tenants that we could be sure that all timber is guaranteed to originate from sustainable sources.

How have you engaged and educated those you work with on the need for sustainably procuring timber?

Canary Wharf Group has trained hundreds of staff and trade contractors on the importance of FSC certification. Because we target Full Project Certification, we require all of our suppliers to have chain of custody certification, and we’ve helped many of our suppliers and trade contractors to target and achieve this. We also encourage our tenants to target FSC certification on their own fit-out projects, lending our experience to help them achieve certification.

Which of your projects have used FSC Certified timber?

We have completed 5 projects with Full Project Certification, and we have 7 in progress with applicant status. Together, these projects represent approximately 30,000m3 of FSC certified timber and over 40 separate buildings, many of which are some of the largest FSC projects in the world. Our newest commercial project, One & Five Bank Street, is one of the largest BREEAM Outstanding buildings in the world and will certainly be one of the largest FSC Projects in the world.

What are your three top tips for developers adopting a more sustainable approach to procuring timber?

  • Engage your entire workforce, including employees, contractors and suppliers, but also customers. Our customers are people who work, visit and soon live on the Canary Wharf Estate. If everyone is on board and understands the importance, it becomes so much easier to implement sustainable procurement practices, including FSC certification.

  • Put a robust management system in place in order to track all timber that comes on site. Not only does this ensure the correct products are arriving on site, but it makes errors easy to spot and quick to fix.

  • Target full FSC Project Certification. It takes a great deal of commitment and leadership to deliver Full Project Certification, but in the long run it drives clear improvement in your own organisation and throughout your supply chain.


Learn more about Canary Wharf's journey to FSC certification in this video:


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