Editor Isabel Allen discusses ousting greenwashing in the supply chain with Roly Ward from the sustainable timber panel manufacturer Medite Smartply, a material key in building the zero-carbon COP26 House in Glasgow.


Isabel Allen What are the main challenges in terms of embedding sustainability into the supply chain?

Roly Ward There is a lot of greenwashing in the marketplace – we want to ensure that our messaging is backed by fact – and a lack of understanding of what ‘sustainability’ means. It can become a box ticking exercise. We are looking at components of our own products and challenging those raw materials.

Isabel Allen How important is supply chain sustainability for Medite Smartply and what is the company doing to improve this?

Roly Ward It’s very important for us – we are putting a lot of pressure on our supply chain to come up with delivering greener solutions and/or provide transparency in terms of the environmental impact of their products.

We are delivering messages at the early design stage to specifiers, engineers and architects to educate the market through initiatives like the webinar programme we have been running, our involvement with the COP26 House and our third-party verified EPDs – which we’ve been using for over a decade but are really becoming a focus now.

We want to lead by example and support customers as part of their supply chain, so we are breaking down the supply chain to ensure alignment with like-minded suppliers and we’re making sure we’re working with the right partners.


Isabel Allen Has there been a shift in environmental awareness among supply chain members and other parties Medite Smartply deals with in recent years, and if so in what way?

Roly Ward Information that we supply is being seen as more credible – there is more awareness of the importance of them now. We pride ourselves on not greenwashing and striving to become thought leaders in this area. PQQ tenders with house builders and main contractors are offering more thorough questioning of suppliers and demand more information about sustainability credentials.


Isabel Allen How optimistic do you feel about efforts to tackle environmental issues within the construction industry?

Roly Ward Wood is inherently a carbon negative material, which puts us in a great position to be able to contribute to building greener. After COP26 we hope there will be a drive among world leaders to put what they’ve seen into action and drive governments to build greener.

Isabel Allen What do think are the most pressing issues going forward?

Roly Ward Being transparent and credible is vital. We also need industry collaboration to resolve issues preventing circularity within our industry.

We must focus on the here and now. The climate emergency is now.

Editor Isabel Allen spoke to Medite Smartply National Account Manager Roly Ward at the COP26 House in Glasgow, where Architecture Today is hosting a series of roundtable events in partnership with Medite Smartply.

The modular timber house, which will remain installed on a brownfield site in the centre of Glasgow for the duration of the COP26 climate change conference, is an exemplar of sustainable and Passivhaus building principles. Once the conference is over, the house will be dismantled into its original 1.2 metre-wide panels and reassembled as part of a community of 12 affordable timber houses near Aviemore.