Sustainable construction: a web-based performance assessment tool
2006-08-16T15:12:25Z (GMT) by
The quest towards sustainable development, both nationally and globally, puts the construction industry in the foreground as the main consumer of natural resources. The industry has profound economic, social and environmental impacts. Sustainable construction is one of the most important challenges faced by the construction industry today. In the UK, sustainability is being driven and enforced by the government through stringent fiscal policies and regulations, voluntary initiatives combined with naming and shaming strategies. Stakeholders are becoming more aware of the global challenges and are using their power to exert pressure on companies. Increasingly, construction clients are demanding that their business partners submit: their corporate sustainability policies with tender packages to demonstrate their performance in dealing with opportunities and risks stemming from economic, environmental and social aspect of sustainability. However, the lack of understanding of the concept and its practical application has been a recurrent problem. The conceptual confusion; its vagueness and ambiguity, the complexity of the myriad of challenges and fluidity of the sustainability concept, compounded with the myopic attitude of the industry, lack of clear-cut and practical framework are causing frustration in the construction industry. Consequently, a number of sustainability management frameworks have been proposed. There are probably more than one hundred frameworks for sustainable business strategy. However, the majority of these are either complicated to implement or lack sound theoretical base, effective change management and completeness. These, therefore, do not make the situation any easier. Many are still baffled as to what they should do and how they should go about affecting change. Corporate sustainability in the construction industry is a challenge to many companies. The industry is still under-performing in each of the key themes of sustainable construction and this has lead to a 'blame culture’ where each sector of the industry allocates responsibility for its current failings to others (CIRIA C563, 2001). Such a situation poses a need for a comprehensive, practical and easy to use tool that would aid the implementation and management of sustainability at the core of business process. The tool will complement the existing frameworks, which breaks down the strategic and management issues into manageable components. This will enable companies to focus on individual areas and identify actions needed to facilitate change. The problem is that such a tool is virtually non-existent. The main focal point of this research is the development of a tool to facilitate the implementation, management and integration of sustainability issues at the strategic level and promote wider uptake of the concept in the construction industry. This requires a thorough understanding of the concepts of sustainable development, sustainable construction and related issues as well as drivers, benefits, barriers and enablers for achieving corporate sustainability. It also demands an examination of existing management frameworks and collation of case studies from the early adopters to establish critical factors for strategic and management issues involved in achieving corporate sustainability. Through, diverse research epistemologies (quantitative, qualitative and triangulation methods), the research established four main critical factors and thirty-six sub-critical factors for achieving corporate sustainability. These factors underpinned the development of a web-based prototype software (ConPass). This thesis presents the development and evaluation ConPass Model and the prototype software.