Subcontractors are more likely to win work if they have convincing environmental policies, according to a survey of main contractors carried out for NetRegs, a government website that helps small and medium-sized businesses comply with environmental legislation

Three quarters of those questioned said they would be more likely to appoint a subcontractor if they could produce evidence of environmentally responsible policies, and 87% said such policies gave them confidence in a firm and made them seem more professional. A further 76% felt it reduced their own chances of prosecution.

Stuart Rowe, contracts executive at Ellmer Construction, said that reviewing subbies’ environmental policies had become a key part of its selection process. ‘Green credentials are very important for our supply chain. A successful subcontractor will be the one that’s best placed on safety, environmental and other areas.’

The survey found that the most important areas were site waste, storage and handling of hazardous materials, and dealing with pollution emergencies, findings in line with main contractors’ own compliance responsibilities. Since April 2008, all projects of more than £300,000 must have a site waste management plan.

On the other hand, ISO14001 accreditation was among the top three must-haves for only 5% of contractors, behind policies for site drainage (8%) and working near rivers (12%).

‘We expect our subcontractors to be familiar with site waste management plans and legally compliant with all items relating to normal waste and hazardous waste,’ said Rowe. ‘They must demonstrate to us that they’ve had some training in environmental issues and that they understand waste transfer notes.’