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by Scott Steedman
17 November 2020
Associate feature: Building back better: The role of standards in delivering a green recovery

Associate feature: Building back better: The role of standards in delivering a green recovery

With unemployment rising and businesses everywhere under pressure from the impact of national and local Covid restrictions, we urgently need to assess how we will rebuild our economy towards a greener and more sustainable future.

As the UK’s National Standards Body, BSI brings together stakeholders from across regulators, industry, academia and consumers to agree what good looks like and to support the use of consensus standards in delivering better regulatory policy.

There are a vast number of standards that can provide guidance on how businesses can become more secure, resilient and productive. There are traditional standards, like ISO 14001, that give businesses the tools to make their day to day operations more sustainable and ultimately save money, improve brand reputation, engage employees and build resilience against uncertainty. The ISO 45000 series addresses occupational health and safety, including ISO 45003 Psychological health and safety at work, providing guidance on how to create a better working environment for all.

We know from listening to our stakeholders that in these uncertain times, businesses need solutions that can adapt to an agile and flexible recovery. During lockdown we created new guidance through a rapid consensus process, drawing on experts from industry associations, management companies and academic institutions, for business to use in planning their return to the workplace.

BSI’s Safe Working Guidelines is now on its third iteration and offers best practice guidance to business owners, executives and workers on managing the complexities of the changing situation and how to adapt their own ways of working consistent with government guidelines.

Delivering a green recovery

Standards will support and accelerate innovation because they are written by industry experts who know what they need to agree with their stakeholders to bring added value and competitive advantage. Voluntary standards, patent free, technology agnostic with open public consultation and independent governance provide a means to define good practice and common methodologies necessary to enable the deployment of new technologies, supporting infrastructure, business models and operational processes.

A good example of this is the work BSI is carrying out with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to facilitate the uptake of safe, secure and interoperable energy smart appliances (ESAs). This work looks at the standards needed for the integration of electric vehicle (EV) charge-points and the active management of demand on the electricity network.

Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation sets a target date for net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045, with interim reductions of 75% required by 2030, and 90% by 2040. One of the major challenges to meeting these targets will be reducing the emissions caused by heating the country’s homes and other buildings.

Recognising the important role that standardization can play in supporting these legislative and policy commitments, BSI is working with the Scottish Government and BEIS to explore how standards development could help inform and direct plans to accelerate the growth of the heat networks market in the UK.

Used strategically, standards help create a market framework that benefits both established and new market entrants, for example shaping common expectations in terms of customer service or using consistent terminology to reduce confusion or facilitating interoperability to enable new products and services to be integrated into an existing market safely and successfully.

The role BSI plays

BSI works to identify the needs of industry and wider stakeholders and to use that understanding to frame a better future by bringing together expertise from across sectors such as tourism or finance and supporting industries (transport, energy, infrastructure, communications, manufacturing).

BSI operates under an MOU with the UK government. Over 85% of British Standards are international and European regional standards and we provide the platform for people from everywhere in the UK to participate in the international standards system.

Standards play a vital role in supporting UK capability development and global leadership opportunities for business as a form of soft power. BSI’s UK-led work programmes have harvested knowledge emerging from research and innovation projects to create world-leading standards that support commercial scale up and deliver international advantage.

BSI’s ambition in Scotland is to support Scottish businesses, society and the Scottish Government to deliver a cleaner, more flexible, inclusive, reliable and integrated transport and energy system within a green and more sustainable economy that benefits consumers, industry and regulators.

This piece was sponsored by BSI.

Scott Steedman is the Director of Standards at BSI

For more information contact BSI on

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