The quest for sustainability has put the construction
industry under immense pressure from the Government
and general public to improve its unsustainable pattern of
project delivery. This study aims to undertake a baseline
review of the UK construction contractors’ engagement
with the concept of sustainability and gauge their
response to the issues being raised. However, based on
the premise that the major firms drive the industry forward by managing their supply chain, the research deliberately focuses on the top end of the industry.
Quantitative methods developed through an extensive
literature review form the main research epistemology to
test the research hypotheses. The paper documents the
analysis of a questionnaire survey of the top 45 construction contractors (based on turnover). The respondents
are classified into A, B and C firms according to turnover.
Most of the respondents share the view that a proactive
sustainability strategy, supported by effective reporting to
essential stakeholders, can have a major positive impact
on organisational competitiveness. The overall sustainability performance among the groups differs considerably. The survey results indicate that there is a tendency
for firms with a higher turnover to engage proactively
with sustainability. However, the results also suggest that
irrespective of size, substantial progress has only been
made regarding the environmental aspect of sustainability, even though there is wide-spread recognition that
sustainability has three dimensions: environmental, economic and social.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
Published inEngineering Sustainability
Pages185 - 199
PublisherThomas Telford Ltd.
VersionVoR (Version of Record)
Rights holder© ICE Publishing
NotesThe paper presents initial research from Dr Israel Adetunji's Engineering Doctorate with Price and Fleming (UoA 27) as internal supervisors, and Pam Kemp as the external supervisor representing the industrial sponsor Balfour Beatty. This paper was one of the first to explore current thinking on construction sustainability which at the time was an emerging area. Several research activities have emerged from this research which built upon a DETR funded project: Identifying and Testing Processes that bring together Sustainable and Efficient Construction (value £42k). The research involved development and implementation of Sustainable Supply Chain Management with Balfour Beatty and focused on road maintenance, where governmental bodies such as Local Authorities and the Highways Agency tend to be the main clients with clearly identifiable supply chains. This research highlighted gaps in existing knowledge relating the measurement and improvement of construction sustainability, especially regarding the social dimension. Price is continuing to develop this research, for example through: Ian Holton (EngD) - Developing a sustainable strategy of the pre-cast sector - with The British PreCast Concrete Federation (industrial supervisors - Martin Clarke, British PreCast, Stuart Bell, Marshalls, and Miles Watkins, Aggregate Industries); Timothy Taylor (Eng Doc) - Improving Sustainable Sourcing of Ready-Mix Concrete (industrial supervisors - Kristian Steele, BRE Principal Consultant who leads BREEAM Materials Team; and John Hannah, BRMCA Marketing Director); and Al-Yami (PhD) - An Integrated Approach for Value Management and Sustainable Construction ¿ with the Ministry of Public Works in Saudi Arabia. Several ongoing funded research projects also have resulted, these include: Sustainable Urban Environment - Models and Metrics (www.sue-mot.org.uk) a joint EPSRC funded project with Dundee University and Glasgow Caledonian valued at £1.3M (LU £372k) (contacts- Paul Everall (LABC), Andy Green (Faithful and Gould), John Newman (DTI); and Safe, Secure and Sustainable Built Environment (EPSRC £55k).