Sustainable and Successful Construction in the UK

Subject: Design
Pages: 77
Words: 21089
Reading time:
71 min
Study level: College


This research study has deeply looked at the balance between sustainable construction and project success in the current economical situation in the UK. The study sought to find that balance, by looking into how affordable sustainable forms of technology and methods could be used for sustainable construction, but still ensure that the positive impacts of the process are maintained. It is from the research that a more cost-effective way of construction sustainability, than that in the current situation, was sought to ensure improved performance, environmental sustainability a9nd economic growth. The specific study objectives were; to understand the importance of sustainable construction both to the construction industry and the UK as a whole, to find out how the economic recession has affected sustainable construction in the UK, to identify the measures put in place by the UK government to ensure effective sustainable construction and to identify how the costs of sustainable construction can be made affordable to every developer during the current economic situation.

In this report, chapter one sets the framework of the research. It presents the study background, the rationale of the study, study objectives, scope of the study, and the significance of the study.

Chapter two of these paper reviews literature as an account of the knowledge and ideas that have been established by accredited scholars and experts in the field of study. It is guided by the study objectives identified in the first chapter.

Chapter three presents the methodology used to select the sample, from which the research was carried out and the methods used to select the respondents. It also explains the methods that were used to collect process and analyze data. The identified methods used for data collection included questionnaires and face to face interviews.

The paper also presents experienced challenges during the actual research study. These included time and financial constraints as well as difficulty in acquiring information from the respondents.


Buildings and constructions help mankind to meet their common need for shelter, to meet financial needs for investment and communal objectives. However, the gratification of these needs normally comes with a high cost that is permanent damage to the environment. This leads to a growing realization in the region of the world to change or improve the conventional way of advancement, into a more accountable approach, which can gratify the needs for progress without destroying the world. The chance for improvement arrived after a new philosophy named ‘sustainable development’ was launched in 1987 in the Brundtland Report.

Since that, various progressive world proceedings have taken place to raise the consciousness on environment and sustainability plans, such as the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, Rio Earth Summit of 1992, Kyoto Conference on Global warming, 1997, Johannesburg Earth Summit, 2002 and Washington Earth Observation Summit of 2003 (Zainul 2005). The thoughts and strategies commenced by these world proceedings have provoked positive actions and strategies by many countries to put into practice and take in this philosophy, in their industries. Part of this philosophy is a sustainable building, which explains the accountability of the construction industry to achieve sustainability. Through sustainable construction idea, the building industry can contribute in an optimistic and proactive way towards environmental safeguarding.

Delivering sustainable building requires action from all involved in constructing and sustaining the building or structure including those that are involved in designing, construction services and consulting. Willingness to discover new territory is essential, and preparedness to adopt new ideas, products and practices.

The importance of sustainable construction to the UK has been stressed in a series of recent government strategy documents. They state that people who are respectably housed have a better sense of safety and place. However, the housing provided in the UK has been on a downward movement since the 1960s. The housing green paper put the target of housing provided to 240 000 new homes per year by 2016. This is a goal that the industry is up till now to reach and which appears extremely positive (Constructing Excellence, 2004). In the face, of current economic recession, house constructing is facing a significant challenge to survive, leave alone to provide houses in the quantity, quality and sustainability as stated in the policies.

In the rise of the international economic crisis and the ensuing global depression, the construction industry has to organize itself now to tackle the new economic truth and the sustainability imperative. In several parts of the world, the global downturn has hit the building industry hard. The revival process may be sluggish, but the aftermath of the depression is creating lots of new opportunities motivated by sustainability as well as carbon economy plan (Nell, 2009).

During the CIB world assembly 2010, building a better world, a worldwide challenge was set forward by the European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) through the European Commission. This paper represents a response to the challenge of the global economic crisis in relation to the balance between sustainable construction and project success.

Scope of the Study

The UK government has passionately spearheaded the sustainable construction concept in its bid to meet the targets of cutting down the emission of greenhouse gasses. While the progress was steady before 1998, recession dealt a blow to the improvement and spread of sustainable construction. This study seeks to investigate how the construction industry is balancing sustainable construction and project success after the economic downturn.

The study will focus on one of the construction projects in the UK with a focus on how the construction industry is handling sustainable construction while ensuring that these projects make profits. The study will cover the impacts of the recession on sustainable construction with reference to the rest of the construction industry. It will also study the challenges facing project managers as they construct sustainable buildings and the technology used in sustainable construction in the UK.

The studies will assess the attitude of the clients and constructors towards sustainable construction. Surveys will be conducted to understand their perspectives on the current and future states of sustainable construction.

The study will be limited to sustainable construction projects only as opposes to the conventional construction. The research will focus on a single construction project in the UK and will be limited to the town where the construction project is being undertaken.

Significance of the Study

United Kingdom is one of the EU countries that are at the forefront to implement sustainable construction as one way of meeting sustainable development goals. This study is of significance to the constructors and the developers/ who are struggling with the impacts of the recession. The study will expand the knowledge of professionals in the construction industry concerning the viability of sustainable construction and how to cope with the effects of the recession. Several projects have stalled and others failed to start because of the high cost of sustainable construction. The study will significantly enlighten the construction industry on how to undertake sustainable construction in a profitable way.

Majority of the population still do not understand sustainable construction. The study will add to the understanding of sustainable construction and the relevance it holds for both the present and the future of the people of the United Kingdom. Such knowledge will include for instance, that on the current trends in the sustainable construction industry, and the government incentives to the people embracing sustainability in their constructions. Developers seeking to erect new buildings will find useful information on some of the current technology and building standards that deliver high standard products at a cheaper cost.

Many construction companies still shun sustainable construction because it is considered unprofitable. The study will provide knowledge and evidence to prove that sustainable construction is profitable. It will show that the cost of construction sustainable structures is not as high as the myth purports. It will also provide examples of construction companies that are thriving on sustainable construction in the post-recession economy.

The management of sustainable construction projects is a challenge. Firstly, sustainable construction is a new concept that is yet to be fully explored. The study will focus on the best ways of managing construction projects. For instance, the design and procurement phases are very crucial as they determine the outcome of the projects. New construction materials that fit the sustainable standards and different methods of ensuring quality and profitability will be explored in this study to equip upcoming project managers to the current unique construction environment in the UK.

Background of the Study

The present worldwide economic crisis has affected the construction industry to a greater perspective leading to the development of sustainable development measures seeking to counter the effects. According to Levy (2011), the creation of a sustainable future solely depends on the knowledge and involvement of individuals and a clear perspective of the consequences of the actions taken. The construction industry has since time immemorial been associated with the detrimental effects on the global happenings (Zhou and Lowe, 2003). For effective and sustainable construction and project success in the current economic situation, it calls for the combined efforts of the public and private sectors to enhance achievement in the industry (HR Government, 2008).

In the UK, the government has not been left behind in backing strategic measures regarding housing and spatial planning (Chapman and Cooper, 2011). This is crucial in ascertaining the relevance behind its inclusion in ensuring the realization of effective and sustainable development in the construction sector. The overall achievement regarding the success of construction projects falls squarely on the availability of funds (Adamson & Pollington, 2006). The acquisition of housing has gone down with respect to heightened loans and mortgages interest rates by lending institutions. The effect trickles down to contractors and estate developers in the housing sector. According to Chan and Cooper (2011), the construction industry has been credited as being the sector underpinning business, industry and the general life of any given country. The Department of Business, Innovation and skills statistics as cited by Chan and Cooper (2011) indicates that the industry produces an output of just under £110 billion. The Strategic Forum for Sustainable Construction states that the UK Construction Industry accounts for almost 10% of the country’s GDP and employs close to two million people in over 250,000 different companies (HR Government, 2008).

With respect to construction management and maintenance, the systems of procurement devised are aimed at focusing on the macroeconomic issues. Further, they are embracing policies that are geared towards the developmental needs. Notable is the 50% decrease of construction, pulling down and excavation waste to landfill by 2012 from 2005 (Chan and Cooper, 2011). On the same context, the utilization of 25% of construction project products from schemes recognized for responsible sourcing to enhance accountability. The Strategic Forum targets (2012) states that all construction projects with over £1 million should have a biodiversity survey carried out and necessary actions initiated. Construction in the UK is keenly concentrating on enhancing the relationship between development and construction (Rudock and Rudock, 2010). The construction sector is evidently looking into the development strategies and not just construction materials that are perceived appropriate, and also constitute the appropriate technology.

The experienced financial strains have further promoted the PPP initiatives in the UK (Cheung et al., 2010). This has been seen considerable achievement with the hardships that are in the construction industry. According to Cheung et al. (2010), Public-Private Partnerships in the UK has found success with regard to PFI (private Finance Initiative). UK pioneered the development of PPP procurement framework which has resulted in greater and enhanced construction sector success. According to Strategic Forum targets (2012), the sustainability strategy employed in the UK lies in the heart of design and construction. The mounting responsiveness on environmental fortification as a result of depletion of non-renewable resources, global warming and limit of obliteration to ecology, not to mention the biodiversity impact have resulted to wider attention by the construction practitioners (Batty, et al., 2001).

Strategic innovation can be termed as one venture that the construction industry has incorporated to cope with the rising cost of projects (GVA, 2011). This comes in handy with the inclusion of carbon-green technology that aims at reducing carbon emission in buildings being erected (GVA, 2011). The green deal is central to the government’s sustainable building agenda aimed at working towards stimulating construction while working towards carbon reduction targets. The measures include incentives provided by the government; cutting on taxes has acted as a subsidy (Chan and Cooper, 2011; Adamson & Pollington, 2006). This reduces the financial burden on the contractors and developers boosting construction business further. There is therefore great need to look into ways to effectively come up with strategic measures that look into achievable sustainability construction in the industry. This research aims at looking into the ways that can effectively be utilized to ensure the success of projects with the prevailing harsh economic crisis.


The construction sector is a crucial industry in the positive growth of the UK economy, making an 8 per cent contribution to the GDP (Zhou & Lowe, 2003). Construction sustainability, on the other hand, is an important aspect of the current undertaking of construction projects, not just in the UK, but in many other parts of the globe. An up to date and efficient infrastructure works significantly towards promoting growth, with the construction sector playing a key role in ensuring that built structures are not only inventive but also effective in terms of cost. Sustainable construction involves ensuring sustainable development during construction. It is the process of applying appropriate practices in the selection of materials to be used, their sources, the design and method of construction, as a way of improving performance, reducing the environmental project burden, minimizing waste and enhancing ecological friendliness (HM government, 2008).

Despite its contribution to the UK’s economy, the construction sector heavily affects the environment. A 2000 research found out that, demolitions and construction sites results into nearly 72, 000000 tons of waste annually. This equals 17 per cent of the total UK waste (DETR, 2000). The constructions contribute to almost 30, 000000 tons of commercial waste (7 per cent). Additionally, poorly designed and managed constructions according to Crossley (2002) result in the lack of use of nearly 10, 000000 tons of construction materials, thus leading to wastage. It is as a result of these negative impacts, that the need for sustainable construction is necessary for every developer. In response, the government has put in place policy guidelines requiring construction industries to ensure that they employ sustainable construction standards in all their projects (Zhou & Lowe, 2003).

The implementation of sustainable construction faces many economic-related challenges, both at the micro and macro level. One such challenge is the effect of the economic recession of 2008. According to Bon & Hutchinson (2010), the key ways of dealing with these challenges include; ensuring governance through set standards, regulatory and legal practices as well as developing and implementing policies that are market focused.

Though developers in the UK understand the value and importance of ensuring construction sustainability, this has not been a major priority during the current times as compared to the previous years. This can mainly be attributed to the harsh economic times, resulting from the 2008 economic recession. Previously, sustainable construction was affordable, hence was a must for all constructions. The economic downturn, however, has made the process very expensive and, hence, unaffordable for many developers who opt to leave it out or to do it using the least amount of money possible, a situation that results into poorly done projects. The successful completion of any project requires that all quality measures are put in place (Khalfan, 2002).

Sustainable construction is a key factor in the UK’s economic growth and the successful completion of projects. It is for this reason that, a balance between sustainable construction and ensuring project success during the current declined economic state is necessary. There is a need for a more cost-effective way of construction sustainability than that in the current situation, to be sought to ensure improved performance, environmental sustainability and economic growth. This research seeks to find that balance, by looking into how affordable sustainable forms of technology and methods could be used for sustainable construction, but still ensure that the positive impacts of the process are maintained (Khalfan, 2002).

A number of research studies related to sustainable construction in the UK have been conducted, with some of the studies focusing on the economy (Bon & Hutchinson, 2000; Zhou & Lowe, 2003). Very few of the researches done have, however, focused on sustainable construction during the current time of economic recession, despite having identified the economic decline as a major challenge in the successful undertaking of the process (Rudock & Rudock, 2010). This fact further supports the need for this research to be undertaken. The research will provide a solution for the economic downturn, as a challenge.


To investigate the balance between Sustainable Construction and Project Success in the Current Economical Situation in the UK.


  1. To understand the importance of sustainable construction both to the construction industry and the UK as a whole
  2. To find out how the economic recession has affected sustainable construction in the UK?
  3. To identify the measures put in place by the UK government to ensure effective sustainable construction.
  4. To identify how the costs of sustainable construction can be made affordable to every developer during the current economic situation.

Literature Review

Sustainable Construction

The following literature review will examine various works of literature on sustainable construction in the UK in line with the objectives of the research. It will begin by providing a comprehensive explanation of sustainable construction as found in various works of literature. It will also exemplify the relevance of sustainable construction to the construction industry and the United Kingdom as a whole. Effects of the recent economic recession on sustainable construction will also be explicated. The role of the UK government in supporting sustainable construction will be examined to identify the measures put in place to inspire effective sustainable construction. Finally, the literature review will attempt to demonstrate how the cost of sustainable construction can be made affordable to every developer in light of the prevailing economic conditions.

The UK became a logical choice of study because compared to the United Arab Emirates it is more advanced both in the construction industry especially sustainable construction. The UK government is leading in its effort to ensure the implementation of sustainable development. Here, several policies and guidelines have been put in place to guide the construction industry towards the adoption of sustainability in construction. UAE is still far below the threshold of sustainability that is required. The construction industry in the UAE is yet to embrace sustainable construction. In this case, very few information would be obtained if the region was to be used as the study scope for this research.

Furthermore, there is a lack of information concerning the construction industry in the UAE since very little research has been done on sustainability, as compared to the UK. In addition, the majority of construction companies in the UK have adopted the concept of sustainable construction and have modified their designs, management and product towards carbon-free buildings. This is yet to be seen in the Arab Emirates. While the UAE presents the best location to explore the concept of sustainability, the recession in the UK was very devastating for the construction firms who have to innovate new ways of maintaining sustainable construction and ensure profitability at the same time. Knowledge gained from this study will be very useful for the construction industry in the UAE as it struggles to embrace sustainable construction.

In order to fully understand the meaning and scope of sustainability in construction, we have to understand sustainable development. Sustainable construction was inspired by the creation of a sustainable development concept that appeared in the Brundtland Report in 1987 (Raynsford, 1999). The term sustainable development according to this report refers to the kind of development that captures the needs requirements and wishes of today without hampering the capacity of future generations from meeting their needs.

Since the inception of sustainable development, all sectors adopted sustainability into their operations (Bourdeau, 1999). Sustainability means different things to different people and is often a contentious issue due to the various explanations that people give. In light of the recent recession, debates on sustainability took a different shift with newer meanings being adopted. For instance, Bourdeau proposes that companies should adopt the new meaning of sustainability which states that “Sustainability is achieving an effective balance between the financial, social and environmental choices when carrying out business activities.” (p 370)

Sustainable development is concerned with the scientific, ethical, political and economic considerations. Environmental preservation is central to the theme of sustainable development. sustainable development was introduced as a solution to the raging conflict between the rampant exploitation of nature by humans as they pursue their life goals and the overall destruction that their actions cause to the environment such as the depletion of resources and disruption of the ecological cycles and how this affects the overall welfare of all life on earth (Bugle et al., 2009).

Several definitions of sustainable construction exist. However, the universal definition is still elusive. The United Kingdom’s government policy defines sustainability as the social progress that caters for the needs of all people in society (Raynsford, 1999). It encompasses economic growth, environmental protection and efficient utilization of resources. These methods of sustainable construction inspire responsibility towards the environment and advance social awareness as well as economical profitability to the developers (Faucheux, 1997).

Sustainable construction is applied to sustainable development in the construction industry. Bon and Hutchinson (2010) view sustainable construction as the process of minimizing the impacts of a building on the environment during the building’s lifecycle even as the economical viability and safety of occupants are optimized. It is rooted in adhering to the best practices in construction that accentuates the benefits of enduring quality, efficiency and affordability

The principal objective of sustainable construction is the minimization of environmental degradation and the optimization of profits for every project. The balance between sustainable construction and profit generation is very crucial in if sustainable construction is to remain relevant. It entails a significant reduction in the amount of energy, raw materials and water used (Nigel, 2000).

The characteristics of sustainable construction include use of environmentally friendly materials especially the recycled ones, use of locally available materials, creating designs that are energy efficient and adopting construction methods that are more advanced and unique to the needs of the environment (Bon, & Hutchinson, 2000).

There are six principles of sustainable construction. They include; ensure that resource consumption is minimized, maximize on the reuse of resources, utilization of renewable and recyclable resources, protection of the natural ecosystem, that is healthy and non-toxic and lastly, the pursuit of quality while creating a built environment (Hill, & Bowen 2002).

The construction industry can ensure sustainability in construction by; restoring polluted or damaged environments, improving arid ecosystems and creating sustainable built environments. The process of creating buildings (built environments) must change from the linear method to the cyclic method. That is the use of energy, materials and any other resources when constructing buildings and other civil engineering projects results in the production of a huge volume of waste during the overall lifecycle of the building. Changing this process to cyclic will ensure reuse and recycling of resources and a significant decrease in the use of other resources such as energy. Reclamation of polluted or damaged resources can be done through treatment while the semi-arid environments can be salvaged by taking the necessary steps to ensure habitability of such places by both plants and animals (Hill, & Bowen, 2002).

The construction industry is the sum of the people involved in the design, plan, production, building and maintenance of the built environment. It also includes material resources, manufacturers, suppliers, clients and end-users. The construction process follows three different phases namely; the pre-construction phase, construction phase and the post-construction phase (Overcash, & Twomey, 2011).

The pre-construction phase encompasses the project costing, design of the building, procurement process user’s requirement and the awareness and involvement of the client. The construction phase occurs at the site. It includes the supply and administration of construction materials, management and recycling of waste management and the entire process of construction. The pre-construction phase is the period of preservation of the facility, the lifecycle efficiency of the building and the final demolition. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the full process construction in order to fully apply sustainability in the construction process. The figure below demonstrates the stages of construction.

Phases of Linear Construction.
Figure 1: Phases of Linear Construction.

Why is sustainable construction of such importance?

Studies show that of the total emissions of Carbon dioxide gas half of them are directly or indirectly attributed to the construction industry. It (the construction industry) is also responsible for over ninety per cent of all surface mineral extraction and about a quarter of waste dump on land (Kibert, 2007). Energy consumption is the major cause of CO2 in the construction industry. It is used during the production, transport and use of construction materials. Even though manufacturing energy is always higher than the energy used during transportation, there are instances when the transportation energy rivals manufacturing energy (Ma, 2011).

The majority of energy sources in the United Kingdom and the rest of the developed world release greenhouse gasses. In addition, carbon emission is produced as a result of energy consumption during the production of materials as well as those produced by the chemistry of the production processes (Department of Business Innovation and Skills, 2012).

Furthermore, the construction industry remains the biggest and ever-growing industry in the developed countries especially in Europe generating about thirteen per cent of GDP. Consequently, it has the greatest effects on the environment. Left uncontrolled the consequences on the environment and life will deteriorate at exponential rates (Kibert, 2007).

According to the UKCG, the construction output in the year 2008 was £124 billion. The UK government investment in the construction industry contributed to between thirty and forty per cent of the total construction output. The figure below provides the details of the construction output of the year 2008

UK GDP and Construction Output.
Figure 2: UK GDP and Construction .

The need to improve the environment and the numerous programs that directly enhance environmental management have been successfully applied to different industrial sectors. However, for many years the construction sector was largely unscathed by the wave of environmentalism (Pearce, 2006). This is changing as various companies are beginning to understand the need for sustainable construction. About a decade ago, industries that were heavy environmental polluters were threatened with the possibility of strict environmental legislation. As a result, they developed the BS7750 which was a voluntary code of environmental management. This is now known as the ISO 14001 and has been adopted worldwide by manufacturing companies as a way of proving their achievement in adopting environmentally friendly practices. Similarly, the construction industry is undergoing the same process with the coming of the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Importance of Sustainable Construction both to the Construction Industry and the UK as a Whole

In the United Kingdom alone, the construction industry accounts for about 40% of all resources consumed and over forty per cent in the production of waste. Furthermore, the energy used in buildings generates thirty-three per cent of all greenhouse emissions caused by man (Dale, 2009). The research by CIOB shows that despite the UK represents only 1% in the world population, its contribution to the greenhouse emission stands at 2.3 per cent worldwide. The department of Business, Enterprise & regulatory reform believes that about 50 per cent of the United Kingdom’s carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings.

The government of the United Kingdom has taken serious steps towards sustainable construction. In 2007, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged that in ten years the UK will be the first country to attain zero-carbon home by ensuring that all new homes are built with zero carbon emissions. These over three million homes were to be built mainly using brownfield land the project would also include the building of eco-towns and villages (Department of Business Innovation and Skills, 2012).

The UK government has also commenced an ambitious plan to ensure that carbon emissions are cut by 26% by the year 2020 and sixty per cent by 2050. Since the construction industry represents the largest single source of prospective energy efficiency, several policies and guidelines have been put in place to ensure that ambitious sustainable building standards are applied to new and refurbished buildings. These plans are also in line with the Kyoto targets (Nigel, 2000). The following figure shows the carbon abatement required to meet the 2018- 22 target.

Carbon equivalent abatement required to meet the 2018-22 carbon budget.
Figure 3: Carbon equivalent abatement required to meet the 2018-22 carbon budget. Source: UK contractors Group.

Besides carbon emissions, the construction industry is blamed for huge amounts of wastes produced. Over one-third of all waste in the UK is attributed to construction. This is due to the consumption of more than 420 million tones of material resources every year. Defri also estimates that up to 109 million of waste from construction and demolition is generated every year. All the wastes produced are thrice as much as the wastes produced by all UK households. The following figure shows the waste produced from the various construction materials. While there are numerous sources of waste in the construction industry, waste from concrete and fill aggregates are the largest producers of waste as shown in figure 4 below.

Waste from materials produced for construction purposes Source: UK contractors Group.
Figure 4: Waste from materials produced for construction purposes Source: UK contractors Group.

One of the most evident benefits of sustainable construction is the awareness of the public towards the need for carbon-free homes ( Cowie, 2007). The strategies and policy guidelines that drive the ambitious objectives of the United Kingdom’s to ensure sustainability, has led to the change in the attitude of the public. For instance, the UK government initiated the code for sustainable homes in 2006 as national standards by which levels of sustainable construction and design could be compared when constructing new homes (Luff, 2008).

Due to the increasing public awareness of the need for sustainability in the construction industry, more people are supportive. The demand for sustainable homes is growing with over two-thirds of people interviewed in a survey demanding that all new homes must follow sustainable construction and design standards. The support of the public will ensure the government meets its targets on reducing the levels of carbon dioxide emissions. Nevertheless, the majority do not yet understand the benefits of sustainable construction especially to them as clients. The construction industry believes that the public needs to be educated on the benefits of sustainable homes both immediate and long-term (Ma, 2011).

Relevance of Sustainable Construction to the Construction Industry

The construction industry has been said to be the largest single cause of environmental degradation. The burden of sustainable construction rests with the industry, in ensuring that all sectors utilize innovative ways so as to minimize its effects on the environment. Despite this, embracing sustainable construction is not easy because it calls for more resources and better skills in providing modern eco-friendly structures.

Despite the effects of the recession on the UK economy, the increasing awareness on the need for sustainable construction has shielded the initiative from the wrath of recession. Majority of developers increasingly prefer sustainable buildings probably because it is a shift from the standard methods of buildings, to the best methods of the building (GMI Construction Group, 2011).

Construction professionals believed that the cost of constructing sustainable homes was seventeen per cent higher than the conventional ones. However, studies by the W.B.C.S.D have shown that constructing sustainable homes is only five per cent higher. This scepticism continues to stall the process of increasing sustainability in construction. There are various ways of ensuring that the construction industry reaps the benefits of green construction.

According to CIOB, the construction companies need to approach sustainable construction as a business by ensuring that the major areas in construction work such as energy, materials pollution and waste are closely dealt with in ways that increase returns to the firms (Batty et al., 2001). Proper reassessment of each area must be carried out to allow for the development of best practices. Cumulative benefits are certain as these practices are inculcated into the construction process.

Sustainable practices in the construction industry will also ensure the sustainability of the construction industry. In the world over, sustainable construction is the only future that all construction must adapt to. Those who resist may not survive the future business environment. Adopting a sustainable perspective will not only help towards saving the planet, but it is also a profitable undertaking that has the potential of increasing earnings and improving the reputation of the industry both to the customers and the community (CIOB).

Luff (2008) states that construction suppliers have taken the lead in encouraging sustainability, and are already reaping the benefits of their practice. Through research and innovation, they have modified their supply chains in addition to looking into new sustainable building materials. The push by the stakeholders is probably the main reason why many companies are rushing to adhere to sustainability standards. The rest of the construction industry has a long way to go before the benefits of sustainable construction can be met. As they devise newer ways of dealing with waste, pollution and energy, the initial cost is seemingly higher. Furthermore, the regulations that the government has put in place seem to be much tighter for the construction industry (Constructing Excellence, 2004). The figure below shows the tiers of the various costs and benefits. There are various issues that various construction firms consider before undertaking construction projects. These considerations, divided into tiers, are keenly weighed when dealing with sustainable construction as shown in the figure below.

Tiers of Economic Costs and Benefits.
Figure 5: Tiers of Economic Costs and Benefits. Source: Luff 2008.

The establishment of long term energy efficiency is mainly dependent on the quality of design. Sustainable construction requires modern designs that ensure that minimal energy is used in the course of the building’s life cycle. For instance, building designs should ensure the use of passive solar energy. Other ways of enhancing energy efficiency include use of the geothermal system for heating and cooling; improving light energy efficiency, for example, ensuring enough ventilation and increased use of natural sunlight; use of dehumidification and reducing peak energy use.

Water efficiency in sustainable housing can be achieved in many ways. Designing efficient rainwater collection systems will ensure that the cost of water is significantly reduced. Greywater systems can also be installed in these houses to collect all wastewater utilized in the house for recycling or reuse. Greywater systems collect wash water used in the house from all the used sources apart from toilet and food remains. The collected water is then taken through treatment (simple or complex) after which the treated water can be used to water flowers and lawns or dispersed back to the ground as groundwater. Toilet water is known as black water and is always collected and treated separately from greywater because it is considered to harbour the majority of human pathogens. Construction firms can reduce the cost of water utilized during the construction project can be reduced by creating water. There are several sources of water in the home that contribute to wastewater. Blackwater which is water from the toilet contributes about sixty per cent of wastewater while greywater contributes forty per cent.

Figure 6: Wastewater.

Components of waster water include blackwater and greywater. While greywater can be recycled at home, blackwater should be channelled to specialized treatment facilities to be recycled before reuse. Source: Lindstrum, 2000

These energy-efficient methods are also utilized during refurbishment projects. Reducing energy use during and after refurbishment holds tremendous impacts on the environment. As shown below, the several energy measures put in place denote the relative benefits over a long term period for a three bed roomed house. The table below shows the long term cost-cutting methods that are used in sustainable construction to minimize carbon dioxide and green gas emissions while cutting maintenance cost over the building’s life cycle.

Table 1: Conventional gas, condensing boiler systems and electricity. Source: Luff, 2008.

Item Lifetime of Item Cost of Item Cost per tonne cut in CO2over the lifetime of the item*
e g c
Loft insulation 30 yrs £500 £23 £41 £53
Cavity Wall Insulation 30 yrs £1000 £17 £30 £39
Draught Stripping 10 yrs £250 £60 £109 £130
Low Energy Lamps (60W to 10W) 8000 hrs £3.50 £15
Efficient Central Heating Motor Drive (5% better on 10kW motor) (300 hrs /yr) £200 £10
Photo-Voltaic Panel (2 kW, 1500Kwhrs per year) 20 yrs £10,000 £625
“Green” electricity tariff (e.g. SWEB Green Electron @ 0.5p/kWhr extra, based on 0.54kg CO2per kWhr) £9
Small Wind Turbine (100kW, 40% utilisation) 20 yrs £70,000 £20
Larger Wind Turbine (5MW, 45% utilisation) 20 yrs £4.5M £10

In addition, there are other energy-efficient technologies that have been adopted by various firms. Apart from geothermal and solar energy others include; wind turbines that are erected on clear fields to generate electricity. Wind turbines can generate 5 kW or more; Biomass is useful mainly in major industries to supplement energy needs; and the age-old hydro electricity that leads to the generation of sustainable energy.

How the Economic Recession Has Affected Sustainable Construction in the UK

Recession is defined as a considerable decline in the activities of the economy that normally affects production, income, employment and visible decline in public spending and investments. The ‘National Bureau of Economic Research-UK’ alludes that recession in the UK began early in December 2007. However, the initial effects were noticed in the second quarter of the year 2008. This was the first of the six successive quarterly falls in the United Kingdom’s Gross Domestic Products. The figure below

shows the quarterly changes in GDP attributed to the recession. According to the figure below, there is a marked decline from the year 2002 to 2009 with the worst decline in 2009. The construction output shows a consistent decline from 2008 when the recession began resulting in the dissolution of various companies and massive retrenchment of workers.

Decline in the construction output due to recession Source: UK contractors Group
Figure 7: Decline in the construction output due to recession Source: UK contractors Group.

According to Luff, (2008) the effects of the recession in the construction industry have been as devastating as in all the other sectors of the economy. However, there is no evidence to suggest that sustainable construction is being overlooked. Many businesses went under while thousands of jobs were lost during the downturn including the sustainable construction sector. However, the proportions of these effects were similar to the other aspects of the construction industry.

The current recession has seen over fifty thousand jobs in the construction industry being lost. That is about eight per cent of the overall workforce. Most of these job losses are, however, in the manufacturing sector of the industry. Many CEOs to construction companies believe that sustainable construction is making a beautiful comeback since the recession in comparison with the wider construction industry. The reasons attributed to this continued existence of sustainable construction are largely due to; the government policies put in place to ensure sustainable development in this industry; the wave of awareness brought about by extensive discussions and promotions on sustainability. The sustainability revolution is an overriding factor over the cost of developing a sustainable building. More developers are willing to pay a little more to ensure that their structures embody the spirit of sustainability culture. Nevertheless much should be done to ensure that awareness f sustainability is universal (Luff, 2008). Figure 8 shows how the recession affected companies in the construction industries forcing some under receivership while others made voluntary arrangements. Figure 8 on the other hand demonstrates the effects of recession among the self-employed and small private firms.

shows receiverships and voluntary arrangements during the recession.
Figure 8: shows receiverships and voluntary arrangements during the recession.
Bankruptcies amongst the self-employed.
Figure 9: Bankruptcies amongst the self-employed. Source: UK contractions Group.

Nevertheless, there are those who are still sceptical about the future of sustainable construction, and with regard to the current recession. Overcash & Twomey believe that the severe effects that recession has had on construction have a whole endangers the growth of sustainable construction (Overcash & Twomey, 2011). Numerous projects have been cancelled especially because sustainable construction tends to be more costly than the other forms of construction. Majority of developers do not find it necessary to build sustainable buildings unless the commercial benefits are immediate. As a result, construction companies are working hard to reduce the prizes and survive the recession.

How the Cost of Sustainable Construction Can Be Made Affordable

According to “Building a Better Quality of Life” a UK strategy document for new sustainable construction, the construction industry is mandated to achieve the following; Reduction of waste, lean building, minimization of energy use and loss in buildings, reduction in the levels of contamination, protection and improvement of biodiversity, conservation of water wealth, having esteem for people and local surroundings, monitoring and accounting. Most of these themes simply make excellent business sense. For example; the reduction of waste is likely to increase efficiency. Sustainability entails enhancing importance to the resourceful, effectual and responsible operation of the construction industry (DETR, 2000).

The London Borough Hounslow Planning Policy Paper presents a good guide to the attainment of successful sustainable construction. The paper is a planning policy guide. It sets out the government’s way of taking reports related to sustainable development in planning.

In chapter three, Site Preparation, of the London paper, suggestions are made on how to deal with contaminated land. The chapter states that the long-established methods of dealing with polluted land have before engaged the removal and discarding of the impure soil or capping of the pollutant with an impermeable coating. Civil engineering resolutions still dictate contaminated earth remediation in the UK, with the processes based methods being responsible for only 20 to 30 per cent of the job carried out. The desired can be accredited to many reasons, but the most significant are the expenses of the long-established “dig and dump” or encapsulation ‘capping’ once compared to the other sophisticated forms of remediation.

However, it is suggested by the authors that the key advantage of using the process-based methods is the removal of risks and the liability associated with it. The cost range between these two types of clearance has been considerably reduced as a consequence of the rising costs linked with landfilling. The outlook of fundamental legal liabilities ensuing from developing houses on polluted land is also increasing. In the year 1999, the ecological agency carried out a study of local authorities and successful companies to identify what corrective treatments were being applied. Civil engineering was being applied by 94 %; cite employed processes by 16% and 5% used ex-situ elimination method. The article states that it is now crucial than ever before to pursue the use of new technologies to offer high value, environmentally progressive solutions to contamination problems. These are some the evolving but proven techniques: bioremediation, bioventing, biosparging, injection and recovery and legislation and regulation.

In chapter 4, the article discusses construction and demolition. This consisted of waste produced during construction, demolition, renovation works. These wastes include steel, concrete, gypsum, brick and timber. Construction and demolition debris is an immense and composite waste stream. Decreasing would conserve earth fill space, minimize the environmental effect of producing new resources, and reduce general construction project expenses by avoiding purchases and dumping costs. According to the document, this waste coming from construction and pulling down makes one of the major waste streams in the EU. A large percentage of this potentially functional material is dumped as landfill.

In 1995, the government white paper “making waste work” revealed that 70 million tones of building waste, including clay and subsoil, were produced annually. The intention was to reduce the waste created and increase the quantities of matter reused and recycled. The white paper incorporated targets for raising the use of waste and recycled matter as aggregates as of around 30-55 million tones per year by 2006. Making more effective use of matter through recovery and upper-grade recycling would comprise a valuable effect on the whole use of building resources such as aggregates. Recycled aggregates can be used in a range of value-added applications like concrete aggregate, in gravel roads as surfacing, in paved roads as the aggregate base and fill for utility trenches.

In chapter 5, the document looks at water conservation and sustainable urban drainage system. In this chapter, it is stated that, from 1999 to 2021, it is foreseen that 3.8 million new homes will be expected to cater to housing demand in England. Such growth will raise the demand for water. To decrease the effect on scarce water capital and lessen the ecological problems of flooding and contamination associated with long-established urban drainage systems, it is vital to take better control of the use of water and to execute sustainable water management and drainage systems.

According to the planning policy document, a person uses on standard, 150 litres of water, each day. In these, 50 litres is for WC flushing, the same as 35 per cent of all households consumption. The following actions are advocated to reduce the quantity of water consumed: the fitting of low flow machines such as deliver restrictor regulators, dual flush toilets, low flow showerheads and spray taps. The document notes that today, there exist total washroom regulation systems for the non-household market, that control water supply, illumination and ventilation as well as the supply of other services when required. The advantage is that there are less additional construction and fitting costs, with up to 40% decrease in water usage for the user, hence extra promotion points for the developer (DETR 2000).

Directing all roof run water through water butts will bring less additional construct costs, reduced peak run surface water runoff and set supply of water used for irrigation purposes. By reusing the water used in washing for toilet flushing, one can bring about less water consumption and additional selling points for developers.

The document further talks about sustainable urban drainage systems. This is a holistic move for managing surface water overflow, and which ensures that its assimilation to the earth is as close as probable to the position where it lands. The basic components are the use of porous soft and hard surfaces, such as slab and sand, gravel and grasscrete, to decrease runoff. The advantage of this is said to be the reduction of peak flows to watercourses, reduced need for bottomless drainage excavations, filtration of pollutants so as to ensure that drainage expenses suit the projected usage and that the plant life and costs are equivalent to, or lesser than, square surfacing and drainage solutions. Installing brown or green roofs composed of growing average plus grasses, sedum is another component. The merit of this is that it regulates and reduces water overflow, improved artistic, improved fitting values, reduced particulate toxic waste, improved biodiversity, minimal repairs. Finally, infiltration trenches and basins are said to have the advantages of costs that are equal to or lower than conventional piped systems, toxic waste filtration and replacement of groundwater provisions.

In chapter 6, building techniques are discussed. The opinions in support of offsite building have been well recognized for years. Safety, health and quality and control handling and storage of resources are some of the various advantages. Other profits include a greater opening for designers to train their skills and huge potential for decreasing waste from surplus and spoiled materials and a reduced effect on the nearby surroundings and residence due to a decreased time on site.

The word off-site construction envelops a broad variety of products and solutions. That varies from individual construction components to total- factory-built structures and construction modules. It is stated that one of the most common off-site construction resolutions is timber framing, and is used for houses and apartments that are up to five storeys high. This is said to account for about 13 per cent of homes built in the UK. Competing in the same market, and complemented by cast concrete system is the light gauge steel frames. A case of off-site manufacture is an entirely volumetric structure, in which buildings are formed by fitting a series of rooms or apartment buildings that have been built-in out and completed in a factory situation.

Sustainable building material is another component of the proposed reform. Sustainable construction merges environmentally responsible, sound, practices to look at the ecological, economic and social consequence of a built scheme as a whole. According to a document Standard Assessment Procedure embodied energy is the energy needed for extracting raw materials, manufacture, transport, construction, repair and maintenance. The entire energy required can be high, usually accounting for 20 per cent of the construction energy utilize during a 50 year being cycled, the same as 10 to 20 times the yearly energy use. It is recommended that, for best practice, it is necessary to keep embodied energy low but without compromising effectiveness in the application or overall ecological impact. Reducing energy in use by use of high principles of lagging and other realistic means, specifying the use of recycled resources, purchasing locally produced resources to lessen transport power incurred and using features as of the beginning rather than retrofitting at a later day are also measures recommended.

On energy-efficient building design, the government white paper published on 24th February sets targets for minimizing carbon dioxide by 60% by 2050. For the first time, growing efficiency of buildings has been recognized as the cheapest, cleanest means of achieving the government’s strategic objectives. An energy resourceful residence is passive solar by design and reduces household energy requirements for service such as illumination, warm water, space heating and cooling. Passive solar design ideologies combine and stabilize the effects of construction and window design, direction and shading, lagging, thermal mass and aeration to create homes that are warm in wintry weather and cool in summer.

Measures Put in Place by the UK Government to Ensure Sustainable Construction

In 2000, the UK government printed its policy for sustainable construction: Building a Better Quality Of Life. This was to act as a guide for construction, to construction firms, their clients and the public as a whole. Ever since there has been an undertaking of various surveys directed towards sustainable building and construction. These are being undertaken by different institutions and professionals that include government bodies, academia, industries, private organizations and non-governmental organizations. In this paper measures put in place by the UK government to ensure, effective sustainable constructions are investigated.

In the draft strategy for sustainable construction a consultation paper July 2007, the paper features the following headings: procurement and integration, the commitment of people, client leadership, sustainability, design quality, health and safety. According to this strategy and on the issue of procurement, there are key actions, which the government has committed to take. As part of the complete expenditure, the government has committed to reviewing a fresh set of public service agreements, which include the principles of sustainable progress, and settle them to promote the successful attainment of objectives and targets.

Permanent secretaries are to be responsible for their departments’ general progress in opposition to these achievements, and for guaranteeing, as of 2007-08 onwards, that main staffs in their departments were to have action objectives and reasons that drive the accomplishment of sustainable procurement action arrangement.

Budgeting and accounting practice in the HM treasury’s (HMT) Green Book guidance on ecological appraisal and through national audit office inspection is to be enhanced to make sure preventable obstacles are not to be found in the system of sustainable solutions. It is also stated that supplementary guidance to HMT’s Green Book was to be issued during the year 2007. This, as is further evident in other reports, has eventually been attained. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was also to inquire about proposals for a centre of sustainable procurement fineness to provide sound quality hold up, guidance and counsel. The department was to establish a product and material unit, to develop evidence on sustainability effect across a variety of main concern products and resources. It was also to facilitate and initiate whole life series improvements. These products are the centre of road mapping procedures to recognize the full collection of environmental effects and develop interventions to tackle these effects. The road map was to capture facts on the effects of each commodity across its life cycle, develop a dream of the future, and begin to plan short, medium and long term solutions to help transform each produce towards that additional, sustainable future.

The greater use of joint procurement is to lift standards within administration contracts of suitable planning for suppliers and sub-contractors and to offer products and services that abide by the departments’ sustainable operations targets.

The office of Government Commerce and Government departments committed to working jointly to enhance their strategic engagement with main sectors, and to ensure suppliers have strategies to lower their carbon trail and that of their supply series.

With regard to design, the paper states that sound design is crucial to all features of sustainable construction and underpins all the parts within the plan. There is no public space, building or infrastructure that can be measured genuinely well planned if it does not add to social, economic or environmental sustainability.

The draft strategy recognizes that delivering quality design calls for strong leadership. In line with this, it states that the government has called for all public bodies responsible for delivering and organizing the built environment to employ a design champion. It is revealed that the government also wants to promote the appointment of efficient design champions all over the construction industry and government. In the draft concerning design, there are various other actions that the government has committed uptake.

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is also dedicated to embedding the OGC universal minimum principles, and the requirements to apply BREEAM assessment or correspondent. BREEAM is a documented tool for assessing the ecological credentials of buildings.

The government has committed to Making supervision on whole life price and whole life standards more readily accessible to those involved in obtaining buildings, Support the use of Design Quality Indicators (DQI) and Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) on all proper government-financed construction schemes, buildings and infrastructure; Build upon the achievement of the prime minister’s improved public building award, and ministerial campaigner and advance civil servants’ sustainable development expertise through the national school of government.

Additionally, BERR and the department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) committed to exploring with the relevant bodies, the scope to raise the report of sustainable building plans and designers, through appropriate design award programs, including an achievable additional award for updated buildings and potential development of an international award.

In the case of innovation, this is defined by BERR as the thriving exploitation of new ideas. It is greater than the generation of new information or technology, but a way of exploiting that is to gain competitive benefit in markets so it is a major driver to competitiveness. It can also comprise identifying new answers and means of working, with relevance to products, procedures and services. There is a large scope for the key benefit, therefore, to apply innovation as a facilitating mechanism for realizing sustainable construction. The paper gives the following major actions to which the government committed to acting upon;

First, it committed to starting a 2-year research of the level of “innovation active” companies in the sector as an innovation main performance indicator, to assist in setting target and monitoring performance.

The government was also to promote and sustain the UK National Technology Platform for the Built Environment, as well as the development of its planned agenda of the industry’s survey priorities.

Another commitment was to promote the production, via the National Technology Platform and the Strategic Forum for Construction, to build up clear targets for improved R&D, knowledge transfer, and the use of sophisticated design methods by their affiliates. This was to be done through engagement with appropriate knowledge transfer networks, recognizing, encouraging and promoting research and improvement, identifying, encouraging and promoting an intended number of joint research projects which can seek back up.

The government was also to encourage commitment in the new Eureka Build umbrella program, which was to offer construction and their delivery chain companies with assistance to find study and development associates in Europe and other Eureka participant countries.

In the draft, the government committed that; it would promote the development of at least two low carbon societies via the carbon challenge agenda administered by English partnerships. The program targets to spur the house construction industry’s response to climate change by speeding up the creation of a numeral of zero-carbon societies.

The draft also addresses climate change. In response to the danger of climate change, the government committed to several actions including putting five-year carbon account in the climate change bill, setting a clear aim to make all residences nil carbon by 2016 and initiate the rules for sustainable homes. The main actions, which the government committed to taking, include: Increasing the energy action standards for new residences through the building rules by 25% in 2010, 44% in 2013 and advancing to no carbon emission in 2016.

The government also stated that all upcoming dwellings built by registered societal landlords and other developers and all new residences developed by English corporations observe level 3 of the Code of Sustainable Homes. Subject to the discussion, the government was to make it compulsory to have an evaluation against the Code for Sustainable Homes for every latest home as of April 2008.

The government was also to introduce energy performance certificates, which were to be made accessible for marketed residences in Home in Information Packs. These were later rolled out to other buildings on rent, sale and construction between the years 2009 and 2010. Other commitments included are: Supporting improvements in energy effectiveness of existing residences by ramming up discharge, under the Energy Efficiency Commitment or Carbon Emission Reduction Target; and by enlarging the obligation on agents to deliver energy effectiveness in the house until at least 2020, Supporting the advancement of the Energy Technologies Institute to develop a reliable, secure and cost-effective little carbon energy technologies for profitable deployment.

Additionally, support the advancement and uptake of new energy capable products via, for example, the market change program, and guidance on micro-generation expertise, which will enable learned decisions to be used by the building industry and consumers.

It would also promote the utilization of biomass for warmth and power, and a supply of renewable construction materials via the Biomass Energy Centre and the National Non-Food Crops Centre. Procedures are also being put in place to persuade the construction industry to design advanced standards of water effectiveness for new buildings. In this strategy, two main activities linked with water in the built environment are covered. These are clean water use and surface water running.

DEFRA was at that time looking into the viability of a product information plan through the market change platform program. This was in support of the plan of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association which introduced a voluntary scheme for bathroom goods in September 2007. Defra committed to continuing to work to come up with better information to sustain the identification of water effectiveness products.

With regard to regional procedures to deal with water insufficient areas, Defra’s conference on water metering held in January 2007, paid attention to water strained areas and projected to give water companies better powers to boost metering.

The government is said to be separately looking at ways of improving the water efficiency of existing domestic and commercial buildings. The government’s views to have ways of regulating a lot of water use fittings like spa bathrooms, wet rooms by revising the water supply policies was an important environmental management move. This helped water companies to apply decretory powers to fix a water meter, so that water charges could reveal the true price of the water used. This additionally was an advantage such that, the public was more careful in its usage for water, and hence it reduced water wastage.

The government has pointed out waste as being a major issue for the construction industry. It is in reference to this that, it brought out the importance of building waste in its waste policy for England published in May 2007. In this, the government was committed to setting clear standards for excellent practice via the supply chain, on resource effectiveness within public segment procurement of building projects and potentially in the concealed sector through client and developer obligations to same standards. Common Minimum principles are in position for the procurement of construction environments in the public segment. They include a variety of requirements for public segment clients on waste decrease and organization and resource efficiency such as a minimum condition for recycled content.

The government has also come up with clear rules to ensure consistent application of regulatory compliance. The environment agency is corroborating with the construction segment, to start a sector plan that will set objectives for reduced waste and better resource efficiency on building sites. The agency will advance its relationship with the building business to provide more consistence guidance and regulations and eliminate barriers to better ecological practices.

The government is said to be setting an implementation framework to assist deliver its objectives on waste and resource effectiveness. The Building Research Establishment and consultants, AEAT, are emerging, in discussion with the segment; a government-financed Construction Waste & Resource Roadmap. Materials are also discussed in the draft paper; it is stated that material in a sustainability context needs consideration of a compound set of social, environmental and economic factors across their entire life cycle. It is said that life cycle evaluations of materials and products have grown lately together with developments in life cycle methodologies.

A plan of work in CEN under mandate 350 offers a standardized voluntary attitude for the assessment of the incorporated performance of buildings. The span of work is to grow a voluntary consistent methodology, for the evaluation of the sustainability aspects of new and existing building works and principles for the environmental expert assertion of construction products.

Research Methodology


As far as the research process of any topic is concerned, research methodology will always emerge as a key component of a successful research process. In this regard, the research methodology is a general way of establishing how researcher undertakes his or her investigations in a particular study, so as to come to a particular conclusion. Research methodology can, therefore, be looked at, as that plan that guides the formal collection of data, sorting that data and analyzing it to come to a conclusion regarding a particular study.

This chapter presents a discussion of the methodology used in this research, and which attempts to evaluate and explain the balance between sustainable construction and project success in the current economical situation in the UK. The objective is to explain the procedure of gathering and accumulating data designed for the project operations to be more user friendly as probable, in such a way that it allows a decisive evaluation of the reliability of the overall outcome. The variety of selective methodological approaches is dependent on the properties of the analysis to be asked for, its reason as well as the methodological dilemma. The methodological chapter includes the following elements: the selection of the UK as the study area and population, research design, sample and population, instrumentation, data collection procedures, statistical analysis, ethical considerations and limitation of the study. The objective is to explain the procedure of gathering and accumulating data designed for the project operations to be more user friendly as probable, in such a way that it allows a decisive evaluation of the reliability of the overall outcome. The variety of selective methodological approaches is dependent on the properties of the analysis to be asked for, its reason as well as the methodological dilemma.

According to Febelmar, (2009), the techniques that may be utilized in conducting a research project in a given subject, differ, depending on the approach taken; qualitative approach or quantitative. The duration of research is also important in determining what tools of research can be utilized, in order to get the appropriate outcomes that meet the intended objectives. This can either be short term or long term.

Research design

Research design is the sketch of projected research progress, which comprises of a structure of records collection, classification, measurements, analysis and presentation of data. It is a capital supportive technique of working out a research dilemma, to ease the compilation diversity of statistics and to give details for the uneven associations, through the use of suitable methods. For this research, a survey research design was implemented.

The undertaken study was descriptive in nature and sought to investigate the balance between sustainable construction and project success in the current economical situation in the UK. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative designs. The combination of the techniques assisted in getting an in-depth understanding of the various underlying conditions which have contributed to the implementation shortcomings. Face to face interviews was used. Numbers and percentages of the responses from the respondents were calculated and presented in tables for easy comparison. Qualitatively an interview guide was constructed for the key informants, the construction companies’ managers. Questionnaires were also provided to the five heads of constructions from the 5 construction projects selected.

Sample Framework

To achieve the aforementioned objectives, the researcher of this study saw it necessary to employ a relevant sampling technique as brought out by Saunders et al. (2003). According to the authors, there are quite a number of techniques through which a sample can be chosen from the entire population. Sampling refers to picking or selecting a few numbers of respondents from the entire population concerned.

Sample size

A sample of ten (10) managers was selected for the study. These included two managers from each of the construction companies selected. Three (3) construction companies were selected from London and two (2) from Birmingham. Additionally, the sample constituted 5 construction engineers, from five different construction projects, 3 completed and 2 ongoing ones. Two (2) of the completed projects selected, and 1 ongoing one, are in London, while the remaining two (2), one (1) completed and one (1) ongoing, are in Birmingham. The total sample size was ten (15) respondents.

Sample Area

Data for the survey was to be obtained from five construction companies located, 2 ongoing and 3 completed construction projects in two major cities in the UK. The two cities chosen were London and Birmingham. The construction sector in the United Kingdom is composed of more than 300 000 companies. This part of the industry deals with a variety of elements that include construction products and different materials, producers, suppliers, manufactures of building services, contractors, persons in charge of production and installation, subcontractors, customers, advisors, experts as well as other firms related to the construction design and activities (BIS, 2012). The London city is the capital of the UK as well as the biggest metropolitan in the region. The is rated among the top in sectors such as education, fashion, entertainment, commerce, development, transport as well as architecture, factors that have made it very prominent (GPCI, 2009). The buildings in London are highly diverse, and hence cannot be classified in any specific design or style of architecture. This is also because the buildings vary in terms of ages or times of construction (Ackroyd, 2001). In the current years, many buildings continue to be constructed with some such as the shard skyscraper being very huge

Birmingham is the second most famous city in the UK, after London. The population count for this city, by the year 2010 was found to be 1, 036, 900.only a few of the old buildings are still existing today in Birmingham, with most of the old ones, having been refurbished or demolished for new ones to be put up. The total number of buildings in this city has been said to be 1,946. The city’s council ensures that all buildings are constructed according to the set criteria, which also includes ensuring construction sustainability (BCCPD, 2008).

The sample chosen included these five construction companies

  1. Balfour Beatty in London
  2. Brookfield Contractors in London
  3. Building Angel Construction in London
  4. Flemming Construction Group in Birmingham
  5. John Bardini Building Contractors Ltd, Birmingham

Choice of variables and measurement

The variables analyzed in this research were given prior consideration while designing the questionnaires. This was to ensure that only relevant information was obtained from the respondents.

Sampling process design

Non-random sampling methods i.e. convenience method was used in choosing the construction companies as well as the completed and ongoing constructions. The managers and engineers from which required information were obtained from were also selected through the use of convenience sampling.

Data Collection Procedures

The selections of study participants logically led to the gathering of data pertinent to the study subject. The research was undertaken through the use of face-to-face interviews to obtain various views. The use of face-to-face interviews is efficient in getting to seek clarification of any unclear information that the respondent gives. It also ensures that all needed information is acquired, as the interviewer is in control and has the ability to ask the questions in a way that he or she believes will get a response. Questionnaires were also be provided to the five selected construction heads from the chosen, recently completed and ongoing construction projects from each city. The questionnaires were self-administered as the respondents were considered literate and thus able to fill. The questionnaires were well prepared and easy to understand. The interviews were carried out in such a way that a high level of professionalism was maintained and with no partiality whatsoever.

Sources of Data

This study used both primary and secondary data.

  1. Primary data was collected using face to face interviews and questionnaires.
  2. Secondary data was collected through document analysis in the form of reports, books, manuals, newspapers, and journals and the internet, which were read and the required data collected from them.

These were effective in ensuring that data errors are reduced.

Primary and secondary researches

Primary research involves the collection of information from the direct source. It is the first-hand research which provides the researcher with the first-hand information needed to analyze and understand a given situation. Primary researches employ methods such as focus groups, personal interviews, questionnaires, observations and surveys. Nonetheless, a lot of effort is needed for successful results (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2005).

Secondary research on the other hand is based on already collected materials or information. This can be found in books, journals, archived as well as internet sources and periodicals. The already available sources of information cut down on time and cost-related challenges. However, for best outcomes, reliability and authenticity of the sources must be established (Malhotra et al., 2005).

Pilot Test

Before the actual undertaking of this research study, a pilot test was conducted to find out if, and make sure that each of the set questions measured what it was supposed to measure, all the words in the questionnaires were easy to understand, all response choices were appropriate, the range of response choices was actually used, the survey questionnaire flowed in a conversational manner and to assess how long it would take to complete the study (Bryman, 2008; Folz, 1996). The results of the pilot test were also useful in testing for validity and reliability of the study.

Reliability and Validity

The awareness of research methodology includes the assurance of the future users of research that, the possibility of variations in the conclusions and recommendations of the research is always available for future researches (Seale, 1999). The credibility and accuracy of collected data are measured by two factors i.e. reliability and validity.


Reliability was one of the particular issues of concern in this study. According to Bryman (2008) “reliability is concerned with the question of whether the results of a study are repeatable” (Bryman, 69). In order to ensure that measures are reliable, this study used test-retest. This involved comparing the results of the pilot test with that of the actual research. The results indicated a strong positive correlation between the two studies hence indicating reliability in the findings.


According to Hammersley (1990), Validity is the extent of the collected data and used methods to be relevant for the desired purposes of measuring a social phenomenon. The validity in this study was achieved through the presentation of clear, non-ambiguous and supportive results to the readers and users of this research. The appropriate methods of data collection and analyses, selection of a relevant sample, and explanations of delimitations of the study, also increased validity.

External Validity

According to Bryman (2008), the issue of external validity “is concerned with the question of whether the results of a study can be generalized beyond the specific research context”. In order to strengthen this study’s external validity, the sample is chosen from managers of construction companies and heads representing both recently completed and ongoing construction projects, in two main cities, London and Birmingham. The sample accurately represents the whole. This is one of the main reasons why this study was keen to include the construction managers and heads of constructions as a representative sample.

Construct validity

Construct validity is a concept that applies to quantitative research and also to research that has the measurement of social concepts. According to Bryman (2008), this is the issue of the certainty of a certain measure that has been devised of a certain concept has a true reflection of the concept that it is denoting.

In ensuring construct validity for this research, the researcher went ahead to make sure that all the questions asked in the questionnaire were measurable, that each question had a true reflection of the data that it was supposed to measure, all words in the questions were clear to the participants and the questions were easily understood, all the given choices on which to base the answers were appropriate to the question, the answer format was presented as a range format, the survey questionnaire was conversational in nature and that the time that was required to fill in the questionnaire was rational by making it as small as possible.

Data recording

The collected information was recorded using audiotapes, information sheets and write-ups for further referencing in the subsequent stages of the project.

Target group

These are participants or recipients that aid in the data collection process. To get the information regarding the topic of study, the research engaged construction company managers and construction heads.

Questionnaire Designing

The manner in which questionnaires for a particular study are designed determines a lot the success of the research process. This means that there is, therefore, a need for a suitably designed set of questionnaires for any research study to be successful. This is because the quality of the answers given by the respondents greatly depends on the suitability of the questionnaires presented to the participants of the study. It is important to ensure that, good questionnaires are tailored to the study in question, to ease the understanding of the participants and avoid confusion. In this regard, the researcher of this study identified two types of a questionnaire which were identified to be useful in as far as this study was concerned. These include open-ended questionnaires as well as closed-ended questionnaires (Dillman 2000).

The questionnaires were designed accurately in order to capture the required data. Two types of questionnaires based on the target groups were designed. The target groups were managers and construction heads. This facilitated the collection of specific and desired information. The questionnaires were mainly close-ended.

Sample procedure

The qualitative technique was used to get views from the respondents and also to gather information related to the topic under study. Quantitative sampling was used to come up with the number of respondents who participated in the study.

Data Analysis Methods

For underlying principles, quantitative investigations, means, percentages and categorization are a series of mathematical apparatuses required (Yin, 1994). According to Miles and Huberman (1994), there are some special tools needed for the quantitative data analysis including the percentages, tables, means, charts matrices etc. Simple mathematical tools assist in data collection while the data assessment and representation is done by using tables, graphs and charts. The data collected in this study was mainly qualitative. Quantitative data analysis methods were applied to qualitative data. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16 and Microsoft Excel were used to analyze and present the data.

Analysis, Conclusion and Recommendation

An analysis is usually done based on the outcome of the incorporated assessment of applicable theory and experimental information collected for that reason. In this case, all the composed information is followed through the lustre of the hypothetical structure and used to respond to the problem statement. According to Miles and Huberman (1994), the process of qualitative data analysis includes data reduction, data display; conclusion drawing. The process of selecting, focusing and simplifying data is called Data reduction. The compacted assembly of information which helps in the conclusion drawing is defined as a data display. In the case of this research, concentration was given on cutting down the data according to the theory, analyzing it and later using it to make a relevant judgment and suitable conclusion. The commendation was prepared based on the conclusion which also comprised of some additional research directions.

Limitations of the Research Study

The research study collected data from 10 respondents, who included five mangers of five different construction companies, and five construction heads from five different constructions, both ongoing and recently completed the ten respondents were collected from the two cities selected for this research, London and Birmingham. The small sample selected is an aspect that is capable of affecting the obtained findings, in such a way that it may not be representative of the entire UK population. It would have been more appropriate if a bigger sample was selected from many other regions, and if the sample selected, for example, contained about three respondents from each sector (Construction Company or building) selected. This alternative was however not used as a result of limitations in time and cost. The research study was however carried out with utmost care as a way of ensuring that all the responses given and data collected was representative.

Another major limitation of this study was a lack of sufficient time to carry out the research and deal with other essential activities. The time available in order to effectively conduct the research was limited on part of the researcher. The busy schedule of the selected respondents also hindered their active participation in responding to the questionnaires. Financial constraint was another key limitation, though the researcher was able to work within the laid out budget.

Additionally, though to a lower degree, the validity of information from some of the respondents, especially the construction heads cannot be ascertained as true. This could present a major source of errors in the data analysis and consequently the research findings, and hence make it difficult to make elaborate conclusions from the findings. All necessary precautions were however taken to ensure that all data collected was valid, reliable and true.

Ethical consideration is a very important domain that has to be kept into mind especially when carrying out research. According to Bell and Bryman (2007), on   mm   be cannot avoid the ethical assistances of the studies and researches in developing principles. The authors further believe that without acquiring the ethical principles in social sciences it is useless to achieve the desirable results (Bell and Bryman, 2007).

To start with, it is important for one to get approval letters that will enable him or her to carry out the research. It is for this reason that the researcher therefore first of all got a letter of clearance from the university, so as to acquire a go ahead with the research process. In addition, the researcher also had to acquire a gate pass letter from the administrators within the area under study, as well as appointments with the various respondents from whom the information was obtained. In this case, the researcher obtained all necessary authorizations from the relevant authorities permitting me to jy and confidentiality as a value of research and assured that this would faithfully be maintained.

Privacy and confidentiality of all information collected from the respondents are important. It is also necessary that the respondents remain anonymous during the entire research process. This research was conducted in such a way that it ensured that all information remained private and confidential. The researcher ensured that the information given was solely used for the research and not be provided to any other person. To enhance anonymity and confidentiality, it was also cautiously focused that the personal details of the interviewers not be included in the measurement and judgement of results. In this case, the security of information was maintained with utmost management responsibility.

After the entire research process is complete and validated, the questionnaires will be burned since they will have ceased to function. An agreement in writing between the respondents and I was prepared to confirm this.

Other ethical measures were as follows:

  • Fraud and cheating in the research were strictly prohibited. In order to increase the research credibility, it was ensured that the conclusions drawn from previous primary sources were accurate.
  • In order to ensure the deception free conclusion, some methods were adopted such as recording the result findings and responses on papers and on tapes so that the results could be matched any time.

There were no plagiarisms or deceptive results in research. It was also discussed that data analysis was fairly done.

Research Findings, Analysis and Discussion


This chapter contains the presentation of research findings/results and data analysis. It presents data that was collected using questionnaires and interviews. In the same chapter, data is analyzed along with the objectives and questionnaire themes. Data collected was coded and cleaned using SPSS. The following are the main findings.


The respondent included five managers belonging to five different construction companies in the UK, as well as 5 head persons in charge of five different constructions which were included 3 in progress and 2 recently completed ones. The respondents were selected from the two cities selected for the research; London and Birmingham.

Data Analysis of the Surveys

From the findings obtained, with regard to what the respondents understood construction sustainability to be, the majority of the managers of construction industries understand what the concept is all about. From the explanations given Sustainable construction is the provision of solutions that are both economical, meets the social needs and protect the environment. It is the application of innovative solutions in the construction of structures that reduce the level of energy and waste produced. The response strongly related sustainable construction to environmental management.

When asked to rate and comment on their clients’ priority and demand for sustainable constructions, majority of the construction companies, managers felt that a number of individual clients often consider the cost of the project before sustainability. Though major firms give it a higher priority, the cost of its implementation is a major limiting factor. Overall, sustainable construction is not yet a priority for most clients though the attitude is slowly changing. The managers were also quick to point out that there are also a number of individual clients, who do not clearly understand sustainable construction.

Table 2: Various of the respondents’ company is engaged in.

Balfour Beatty Brookfield Contractors Building Angel Construction Flemming Construction Group John Bardini Building Contractors Ltd
Professional Services:project management, project designing, architectural is designing, planning, technical as well as consultancy services. Constructions and refurbishments Architecture Constructions and renovations Constructions Full construction
Construction Services:Preconstruction, construction management, rail, civil, ground and building engineering, mechanical services, electrical services and renovations Bending services Electrical work Contract management
Support Services:Upgrading and maintenance of services and facilities Real-estate management and operations Plumbing Property maintenance
Infrastructure Investment: EnsuringPublic-Private Partnerships Plastering, tiling, decorating and painting

Table 3: Number of years the selected companies have been in operation.

Balfour Beatty, London Brookfield Contractors Building Angel Construction Flemming Construction Group John Bardini Building Contractors Ltd
Since 1909 Since 1975 Since 1991 Since 1954 Since 2006
103 years 37 years 21 years 58 years 6 years

From the above results, all the companies used for the research have been over 5 years old with the youngest being 6 years old and the oldest being 103 years old.

Importance of sustainable construction both to the construction industry and the UK as a whole

Table 4: Response on the need and importance the construction owner places on placed on construction sustainability, with regard to their constructions. Source: primary data.

Response(Rate of Quality) Respondents Frequency
Very High 4 80%
High 1 20%
Mild 0 0%
Low 0 0%
Total 5 100%

This has been presented in the graph below:

Response on the need and importance the construction owner placed on construction sustainability.
Figure 10: Response on the need and importance the construction owner placed on construction sustainability.

When asked on how the owners of the buildings constructed/ being constructed rated the importance and need for ensuring construction sustainability, majority of the heads of constructions (80%) felt that the owners found it very important and a necessary undertaking for all planning to, or constructing homes or buildings.

Only a small number of the owners, 20%, according to the respondents, regarded sustainable constructions as important but to a lesser degree as compared to the rest.

When asked on the reaction they get from the public when they advise them to ensure sustainable construction, a number of the managers of the various construction companies used for this research also brought out a similar view. This group of respondents indicated that the majority of the public think that sustainable construction is simply a government’s political agenda and that it is of little benefit to the citizen.

These members of the public, according to the respondents want the government to give them the freedom to embrace sustainable construction on their own; a move which they feel should be the case. The respondents recommended that the government has first to ensure that public construction projects adhere to the set sustainable construction regulation. Other manager respondents, however, agreed that the number of supporters of sustainable construction is slowly rising with more clients finding its worth and value. The managers further supported their views by saying that, they can always tell how much worth and value a client or potential client places on sustainability, depending on the various questions they ask.

Table 5: Level of implementation of sustainable construction among construction owners.

Response(Rate of Quality) Respondents Frequency
Very High 1 20%
High 1 20%
Mild 3 60%
Low 2 40%
Total 5 100%
 Level of implementation of sustainable construction among construction owners.
Figure 11: Level of implementation of sustainable construction among construction owners.

From the above, only 20% of the respondents rated the level of construction owner’s implementation of sustainable construction as being very high. 60% of the respondents rated the level as mild while 40% felt that the construction owner’s implementation of the practice was low.

Environmental management practices utilized in the construction of the buildings

Majority of the respondents sighted sustainable construction methods such as waste management and designs used on the buildings, to comply with the best environmental practices as provided by the BREEAM and procurement. The five respondents indicated waste management as being their main as being their key way through which they intend to reduce environmental degradation. One respondent cited water harvesting and conservation as being a part of their strategies towards ensuring environmental sustainability.

A similar response was given by the various constructions manager respondents, the majority of whom agreed that sustainable construction is a first step towards promoting safe, healthy and conducive environments that are also economically productive. As a result, the respondents felt that any construction project must adhere to environmental concerns during and after construction. The respondents cited waste management as being the critical practice for any constructor. Additionally, the insisted on the importance of choosing construction materials that promote environmental friendliness. The material should, for example, be recyclable.

In another construction, which was of a home, the respondent indicated that the design established incorporated latest and planned ideas to acquire a home with adequate space, comfort and environmental friendliness. To the respondent, sustainability during the construction entailed a design without any form of resource depletion like energy, water and raw materials. The design used for construction ensured sustainability through the use of old materials for insulation. Such materials according to the respondent included old clothes and newspapers. This entailed the utilization of materials that did not in any way interfere with the environment and ecological aspects in the residential area around. On the same note, there was the use of an extractor fan, which according to the respondent was critical, with respect to the utilization of outside air for functioning. This outlined a design that was not just cost-efficient, but that was also very effective. The house design was also planned early to enhance the decisions towards impact significantly on the functional quality, and long-term efficiency and effectiveness of the house designed. The house design did not entail the use of energy for the maintenance of cooling gadgets like the fan.

One other practice is that from one respondent, who also believed that their building had fully ensured sustainability during its construction. According to the respondent, the construction was done in such a way that, it ensured the utilization of renewable energy, whether from an onsite generation or with the purchase of renewable energy certificates. The industry, according to the respondent made a major step to ensure that a considerable level of its total energy will be from non-greenhouse gas-emitting renewable sources. To ensure carbon neutrality, the construction, whose owner intends to be an industry, is planned to offset the remainder of its carbon footprint via the buying of carbon offsets, trading carbon credits in the global market and supporting carbon lowering projects in the world like the use of land-fill methane gas capture.

However, there were complaints that waste management is difficult to manage because there are no recycling facilities in the various regions that can recycle these wastes for reuse. Partnering during the construction process seems to be a challenge because most companies participating in construction work do not work as a team, thus creating disorganization. This further makes the work of managing the construction process much harder.

Another blow to the management practices is the restrictions put in place by the government to ensure sustainable construction. Some of the restrictions make the building process very expensive, especially for small construction firms.

Benefits intended from the utilized practices

The main objective, according to most of the respondents is to ensure customer satisfaction, with regard to the outcome of the project. These practices are geared towards meeting the client’s needs. Another major benefit and objective are that of, cost reduction during the construction phase and during the rest of the building’s lifecycle. According to the responses given by almost all five respondents interviewed, the various environmental management practices that are used in sustainable construction are geared towards the production of low costing, yet high-quality buildings.

Another major benefit as identified from the findings obtained is that of profitability; while sustainability and environmental management practices are still frowned up because they are considered more expensive than conventional building methods, Construction firms are coming up with innovative methods to ensure that the standards of sustainable construction are maintained, while at the same time, profits are achieved.

Other benefits can be pointed out from the responses given by the managers, with regard to the benefits construction owners gains from sustainably constructing their houses is that; it is possible, with the new technology, to cut down the costs of transport and purchase of construction materials. This is due to the fact that the required materials can be recycled or be gotten locally. There are more ways through which construction firms can cut costs while still maintaining the best standards. The same benefits trickle to the client who can save on construction costs. A sustainable house will cost less during the building’s lifecycle, and as such be of benefit to the client, in terms of low energy consumption, aesthetic value due to the harmony of the building with the environment and a carbon-free structure that is very friendly to the environment.

Response on whether the various constructions have satisfactorily and fully been done in the best and set levels of sustainability

Table 6: Response. Source: Primary data.

Response Respondents Frequency
Yes 1 20%
No 4 80%
Total 5 100%
Chart to show whether the various constructions have satisfactorily been done in the best set levels of sustainability.
Figure 12: Chart to show whether the various constructions have satisfactorily been done in the best set levels of sustainability.

From the obtained findings, majority of the respondents (80%) felt that their respective constructions did not fully meet the set construction sustainability levels and that the constructions were not done in the best possible ways. Only one respondent out of those interviewed (20%) felt that the construction he had been heading was satisfactorily done. This is a depiction that most of the constructions did not meet the set levels for construction sustainability.

The respondents gave various reasons for no response. According to the respondents, the majority of the public still do not understand the need for sustainable construction. The attitude towards the concept is that it is more expensive. The mindset of the public should be changed towards supporting sustainability in order to foster improvements in the industry.

Another reason given was that the government is reluctant in implementing its policies and plans towards the achievement of sustainable construction. A lot of politics have pervaded the process and as a result, it has been slowed down.

However, according to the response given by the majority of the construction managers, with regard to whether the government was doing enough in promoting affordable construction sustainability, the government must be accredited for its major role in promoting sustainable construction. As a way to reduce it, carbon dioxide emission, the UK government, according to the mangers, have initiated a serious vision to reduce its contribution to greenhouse emissions. However, the benefits of these ambitious programs are dragging, hence the public does not relate to the concept. Coupled with the recession the role of the government is minimal. There is a need to resume the implementation of these programs so that the progress of sustainable construction can be clear to the public.

The respondents also added that the recession was a major blow to the construction industry especially sustainable construction. The set back caused a major deterrence to the advancement of sustainable construction in the UK. However, the process is gradually picking up as the economic conditions improve.

According to one of the manager respondents interviewed, environmental management strongly believes in the company’s role to ensure environmentally friendly practices in all ways. According to the respondent, the measures that have been undertaken by his industry make up a collaborative venture into being carbon neutral. This is in line with the sustainable development goals where three strategies were outlined. The industry has aimed at being energy efficient; with high usage of technology, an act that is not a small feat for the industry, which a multinational corporation is relying on its energy-intensive data centres.

Effects of the economic recession on sustainable construction in the UK

Table 7: Response on whether the economic recession affected the construction of the various buildings. Source: Primary data.

Response Respondents Frequency
Yes 5 100%
No 0 0%
Total 5 100%
Response on whether the economic recession affected the construction of the various buildings.
Figure 13: Response on whether the economic recession affected the construction of the various buildings.

From the above, findings, it is evident that all the respondents that to part in filling the questionnaires strongly believed that the recession has greatly affected the implementation of construction sustainability.

According to the response given by the construction manager respondents, with regard to the various drawbacks in the implementation of one or more construction sustainability practices, effects of the recession was sited as being the greatest cause of the various inadequacies experienced. Other mentioned drawbacks included lack of support from the public, the belief that sustainable construction is less profitable, hence not a priority and lack of skills within the construction industry to capture the uniqueness of sustainable construction.

Massive budget cuts by the government, in response to the recession, were cited as having heavily affected different construction firms. This is because the construction industry heavily depends on public funding projects. A number of firms have been reported to go under following the recession, resulting in many job losses and loss of necessary skills to the industry. While the effects of recession cover the whole construction industry, many respondents felt that sustainable construction is particularly vulnerable because it is a new concept that is perceived to be more expensive by the majority of construction firms and clients alike.

Reasons for the various sustainable construction inadequacies

The findings for this attribute were obtained from the interview done on the five managers from the various construction companies selected. One key inadequacy brought out by a number of the respondents was that of poor construction methods by the construction companies that are yet to fully support sustainable construction. These construction companies according to the respondents do not have the relevant skills set, and that are required to successfully build a sustainable structure. Secondly, the government was identified as being slow in implementing the various laws and regulations related to procurement, incentives and building standards. The government, according to the respondents should streamline the construction industry to accommodate this new concept.

While such policies exist on paper, they are yet to be rolled out to benefit the sustainable construction industry. Another reason given for the inadequacies is the failure of the public to understand the concept of sustainable construction, while others are completely opposed to it. As such clients are often undecided when choosing designs. The recession was also cited as being a major blow. Also brought out by a considerable number of the respondents is that the few firms that are able to deal with the recession are hesitant to invest in sustainability because the returns are not as much. This is still a major problem because the clients have also cut down their spending. As a result, the various buildings, therefore, undergo several budget cuts during construction, a situation that in many cases results in low-quality projects.

Recommendations proposed to ensure that the implementation of sustainable construction is fully successful in attaining the desired results

The responses were given by the various respondents who filled out the questionnaires brought out different views on how the implementation of sustainable construction could be made fully successful and able to meet all the desired results. One such proposition brought out by the majority of the respondents is that the government should intensify its campaign in educating the public on sustainable construction. The fact that the majority of the public still do not understand the role of sustainable construction impedes the construction process as many clients shy away from incurring higher costs. In addition, while the governments continue to issue strict construction guidelines to improve the standards of sustainability, more incentives should be given both to the construction firms and the clients to improve the attitude of the country towards sustainable construction.

Additionally, a number of respondents proposed that, more facilities that deal with recycling of construction wastes for reuse be built in every region to facilitate the process of waste recycling. The respondents felt that the cost of recycling waste in areas without such facilities is very high and as such many firms shy away from conducting proper waste management.

As another proposition, the supply chain in the construction should be streamlined to ensure that construction materials produced and supplied adhere to sustainable standards in constructions. There is a need for more environmentally friendly materials to smoothen the process of construction. Product and design innovation should be encouraged to meet the uniqueness and demands of sustainability in construction.

When asked on the advice they would give to willing builders in terms of construction sustainability during this recession, most of the construction managers respondents felt that clients/ construction owners should not shy away from embracing sustainable construction. Majority of the respondents related this response to the innumerable benefits the investment has over the building’s life cycle. According to them, the initial cost might be slightly higher than the conventional construction, but the accruing benefits continue for generations. Furthermore, the various managers were convinced that there are other ways of ensuring sustainability at more affordable costs. Most importantly, the respondents were optimistic that the recession will soon decline, and that soon the country will experience better economic times. However, none of the respondents was certain when this will be.

How the above recommendations can be put into effective use

The responses that were given by the majority of the respondents, to depict how the various recommendations they gave towards a successful implementation of sustainable construction indicated that, both the government and construction owners have major roles to play. According to most of the respondents, construction owners should work towards completely understanding the value and importance of construction sustainability and the need to construct their homes and buildings in an environmentally friendly manner. The owner should also understand that, despite what might seem like a huge cost of implementation, the various practices of construction sustainability have many long term effects, not just to the construction in question, but also to the surrounding environment, the UK and the world as a whole.

Majority of the respondents also brought out the need more strict regulations to put in place to ensure that all constructions are built in accordance with the set guidelines for sustainable construction and that, those who fail to work in accordance with the set guidelines are heavily penalized.

Role that the UK government should play in ensuring that these recommendations are implemented and that they yield good results

In addition to ensuring that strict measures are put in place to ensure all constructions are done in accordance to the set sustainability guidelines, most of the respondents felt that the government should also work towards controlling the huge costs of sustainability implementation. In this case, regulations should be placed to allow for the implementation of construction sustainability to be affordable for small, medium and large scale construction owners. Many of the respondents felt that the government should for example work towards lowering the costs of the various materials and process during the implementation of the various practices. It was also important for the government to lower their tax rates for construction materials and the process of environmental management during construction of building and homes. The government should also give incentives to various manufacturing industries and construction firms to promote sustainable construction.

Conclusion and Recommendations


From the above findings, the concept of construction sustainability is one that the public still needs a lot of knowledge and understanding. This paper set out to find the balance between sustainable construction and project success in the UK after the recession. The meaning of sustainable construction was discussed at length with reference to the United Kingdom. A similar response was given by the various constructions manager respondents, majority of whom agreed that the discussions and findings obtained during the undertaking of this research depict sustainable construction as being a first step towards promoting safe, healthy and conducive environments that are also economically productive. This has in turn made it important for all construction projects to ensure that they adhere to the various set environmental guidelines during and after construction. The respondents cited waste management as being the critical practice for any constructor. Additionally, the insisted on the importance of choosing construction materials that promote environmental friendliness. The material should, for example, be recyclable.

The study investigated the factors affecting the proper implementation of sustainable construction in the UK after the economic recession. By looking at several projects within the UK and the study sought to understand how various construction firms were grappling with the effects of the recession as they apply sustainable construction.

In view of the title of the study, it is now possible to state that despite the earlier speculations that recession was a major blow to the progress of sustainable construction in the UK, it is not the only limiting factor. The recession affected the whole economy of the United Kingdom and the entire construction industry, which is a significant contributor to the country’s G.D.P, was adversely affected. These effects include mass retrenchments, dissolution of several construction firms and a significant cut back on expenditure by the entire population. Findings of the study show that sustainable construction was equally affected. The effects though devastating findings showed that sustainable construction in the UK was slowly making a come back much better than the conventional construction.

Public attitude towards sustainable construction emerged as an important impediment to the advancement of sustainable construction. Over two-thirds of the UK either do not understand sustainable construction or do not relate to the benefits that it brings to them individually or to the environment. On the other hand, construction firms are yet to fully buy into the idea of sustainability in construction. Findings indicate that their hesitation is caused by the perceived ‘higher cost and low returns’ that characterizes sustainable construction after the recession. They sighted clients as unwilling to indulge in sustainable construction mainly due to the higher construction costs. In addition, they blamed the government for lack of commitment in the implementation of policies that are meant to streamline the construction to fit the needs of sustainable construction.

The paper met the main objective of the study by finding the balance that firms use to ensure the profitability of sustainable construction projects in the face of recession. The study found that the number of construction firms attempting sustainable construction has is on the rise. Technological innovations have brought numerous solutions that ensure that construction costs are significantly reduced; Better standards of construction are adopted, sustainable designs that are eco-friendly and the development of sustainable construction materials that are recyclable and reusable.

These cost-cutting solutions to sustainable construction projects begin at the design stage then too, procurement, selection and transportation of materials and project management. For instance, one way of cutting cost is the use of reusable construction materials. Furthermore, selecting construction materials within the locality of the project reduces the cost of transport as well as the amount of energy used in the transport of these materials.

The paper concludes that while sustainable construction is a crucial approach in solving environmental devastation and securing the future of the next generation, it remains vulnerable to myriads of conditions. However, the level of advancement in the UK gives hope that it can benefit both the construction industry and the whole population. As better solutions are sought, there is hope that sustainable construction is a paradigm shift that the construction industry must embrace. Nevertheless, at the moment it requires strategy, boldness and focuses on the part of construction firms to spearhead the campaign for sustainable construction. By delivering the best structures modelled to fit the needs of sustainable construction, the public will be motivated to offer full support to the progress of sustainable construction.

Recommendations for the Research

More research should be done to ascertain the growth of sustainable construction in comparison to conventional construction. Such information is crucial in designing strategies to speed the development of sustainable construction.

The government of the United Kingdom should undertake an intensive campaign to educate the public on sustainability in the construction without politicizing the concept. Majority of people interviewed considered sustainable construct as a political agenda that the government uses for its own benefit. This grossly encouraged a negative attitude of the public towards sustainable construction. Besides, the support of the government should be felt both by the public and the construction industry. Majority of leaders in the construction complain of strict rules placed by the government that does not serve the purpose of sustainable construction. These rules simply burden the construction firms and crippling the progress of sustainability. The government also needs to streamline the construction industry to accommodate the concept of sustainable construction. Such policies should not only exist in the paper but should also be implemented to benefit not just the construction industry, but also the UK and the world at large.

With reference to the effects of the recession, the government should increase financial incentives both to the construction industry and to the client population. This is mainly because sustainable construction is projected as the future of the construction industry that will not the lives of this and next generation. The recession will decline while sustainable construction holds a huge potential for exponential growth. However, the achievement of this growth is dependent on strategies and ideas implemented at this point in time (Zainul, 2005).

There is a need for innovative ideas and solutions in order to encourage sustainable development. As researchers expand their scope into issues of sustainability in the construction industry, better management of projects in the construction industry should be adopted to fit the unique needs of sustainable construction. The recession resulted in the loss of skills, more needs to be done in order to plough more skills into sustainable construction.

Voluminous studies carried out on the environment should not remain a preserve of the learned. The fight to protect the environment requires the active participation of every individual on the planet. This is only possible if they are aware of how their activities impact on the environment. It is also the only way the public will support sustainability. It is the duty of the government and the concerned organizations to disseminate information to the public to increase awareness and participation on issues relating to the environment. Therefore the study suggests the development of a curriculum on sustainability to enshrine the concept into every citizen.

Research Gaps

Though the findings obtained have been found to be both reliable and valid, a number of gaps can be found in this research study. One such gap is in the selection of the sample whereby only 10 respondents, from 2 major cities. London and Birmingham were selected to represent the entire UK population. Filling this gap requires that further researches include a larger sample whereby more construction companies will be included as part of the sample and that more constructions are studied with the sample giving information on the ongoing or already completed constructions including a wide of respondents, rather than just the construction heads. This will help in ensuring that the sample is representative and that obtained findings can be generalized for the whole country.

This research aimed at investigating the balance between sustainable construction and project success in the current economical situation in the UK.

Findings obtained for this study were used to make recommendations for the construction owners, the government and the country, on how to ensure success in the implementation of construction sustainability during the current harsh economic times. The research has brought out ways through which affordability for sustainable construction can be attained in all constructions, both large and small, and the best results and intended purposes still are achieved as well. Further research is, however, important to find out if the given recommendations have been adopted by the various parties concerned, the effects these have had on the various parties and on the effectiveness and successful implementation of the various related practices of construction sustainability.

Contribution to knowledge or solution of the problem

Undertaking this research study has not only been a contribution to knowledge but also provided solutions to various problems. By undertaking the entire research and developing this report, I have been able to add to the already existing information on construction sustainability. This knowledge is important not just to construction owners who through it, can acquire more information on affordable, effective and efficient construction sustainability but also to the academic sector whereby students and tutors can access this report from the university library and use it in class.

The report will also be beneficial to others who might be willing to undertake a similar or related study as they can use the report as part of the reviewed literature and will be able to identify the various gaps in my research and in turn undertake studies that will fill these gaps. From the obtained findings above, the current economic recession has greatly impacted on the implementation of construction sustainability among construction owners as well as construction companies, and in turn heavily impacted on the country’s environmental management plan. It is by identifying these inadequacies and effects that I have been able to give suitable recommendations through which, the UK government, construction companies and owners can be able to put corrective measures that will, in turn, reverse the negative impacts the recession has caused.

This research has also been beneficial in such a way that it points out to the various problems and gaps related to the successful implementation of environmentally friendly constructions, by providing solutions to these problems and gaps through the recommendations given. Through the literature review, effective understanding and implementation of construction sustainability can be done as this part of the dissertation provides key points in the concept of sustainable construction, the importance of sustainable construction both to the construction industry and the UK as a whole, the relevance of sustainable construction to the construction industry, how the economic recession has affected sustainable construction in the UK, how the cost of sustainable construction can be made affordable and measures put in place by the UK government to ensure sustainable construction. The information given in this section is important for all construction owners and managers as it increases their knowledge on construction sustainability, its value and its effective implementation.

Personal Development

Undertaking this project has resulted in an intense growth in my personal skills for research. Before undertaking my research skills were just basic and the level of knowledge was very narrow. This has however changed through the various experiences that I have had while undertaking this research.

In order to ensure that this project is done with the highest quality of standards, I first had to make sure that I gain all the necessary knowledge and skills required to carry out a research study. This was done through extensive reading of different research-related materials as well as by studying and analyzing already done research studies. Through this, I was able to gain a clearer understanding on research methodologies and techniques, various ethics that should guide a research study as well as on ensuring that all methods, instruments and techniques used for selecting the sample, collecting and analyzing the data are those that produce valid and reliable results.

Other than gaining more knowledge and skills in research, this paper has also increased my knowledge and understanding on construction sustainability, its value in promoting environmental management, as well as the need for the various sectors to work towards promoting its successful and affordable implementation, especially during the current economic recession. I have effectively been able to understand the huge role the UK government is playing in ensuring that constructions are sustainably put up. My knowledge on this topic is now greater and all-rounded unlike before when I only knew a few basic things about it.

Generally, undertaking the research study has been a great learning experience for me and I believe that I am better in knowledge and skills related to research and construction sustainability than I was before carrying out the study.


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Questionnaire for the Construction Heads

Dear respondent,

I am a student of ******University carrying out an academic research on the topicthe balance between sustainable construction and project success in the current economical situation in the UK.” You have been selected to participate in the study and are therefore kindly requested to provide an appropriate answer by either ticking the best option or give an explanation where applicable. The answers provided will only be used for academic purposes and will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

NB: do not write your name anywhere on this paper.

Social demographics

How long has the construction been ongoing? If completed how long did it take? ……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Importance of sustainable construction

  1. How would you rate the need and importance the construction owner places on construction sutainability, with regard to this particular building?
  • Very high
  • High
  • Mild
  • Low
  1. How would you rate his level of implementation?
  • Very high
  • High
  • Mild
  • Low
  1. Which environmental management practices have you utilized in the construction of this building? What benefits do you intend to attain from the utilized practices?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…..…………………………………………………
  2. Do you think the construction has satisfactorily and fully been done in the best and set levels of sustainability?
  • Yes
  • No

If no, why?…………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What effects do you think the implementation of construction sustainability in the construction of this building has had on the construction owners?…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………………………………………………………………….……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Effects of the economic recession on sustainable construction in the UK?

  1. Has the current economic recession affected the sustainable construction of this building?
  • Yes
  • No

If Yes, how?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. What other effects do you know has the current recession had on the construction of sustainable buildings and homes and the UK?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  1. What are some of the recommendations you would propose to ensure that the implementation of sustainable is made affordable for all during the current recession?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  2. What are some of the recommendations you would propose to ensure that the implementation of sustainable construction is fully successful in attaining the desired results?……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  3. How do you think the above recommendations can be put into effective use?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  4. What role do you think the UK government should play in ensuring that these recommendations are implemented and that they yield good results?……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Interview Guide for the Construction Companies, Managers

  1. What areas of construction does your company engage in?
  2. For how many years has the company been in operation?
  3. What do you understand by the term sustainable construction?
  4. What benefits do you think sustainable construction has both to the owner of the construction and to the environment?
  5. Does your company have a department in charge of environmental management?
  6. How would you rate your clients’ priority and demand for sustainable constructions?
  7. Does the implementation of sustainable construction have any drawbacks, if yes which ones?
  8. Do you advice your clients on the importance of, and ways of promoting, construction sustainability?
  9. Does your firm use any form of environmental friendly practices during construction, if yes which ones?
  10. What has been the reaction of the public towards your advice towards them ensuring sustainable constructions?
  11. What reasons would you give for the various sustainable construction inadequacies?
  12. Has the current UK economic recession affected the building of sustainable constructions? If yes how?
  13. What approaches do you think should be taken to counteract the effects of the recession on sustainable construction?
  14. What advice would you give to willing builders in terms of construction sustainability during this recession?
  15. Is the government playing enough role in promoting construction sustainability that is affordable for all, if no what more should be done?

Glossary of terms

  • UPC Urban Planning Council
  • CEF Carbon emission factor
  • GHG Green House Gas
  • HEIC High Energy Impact Compaction
  • UAE United Arab Emirates
  • LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Method
  • BREEAM Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment
  • CO2 Carbon Dioxide
  • GDP Gross Domestic Product
  • IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • USGBC United States Green Building Council
  • BRE British Research Institute
  • CIRIA Construction Industry Research and Information Association
  • CIEF Construction Industry Environmental Forum
  • UK United Kingdom
  • SIRIS Stent Integrated Rig Instrumentation System
  • DIAC Dubai International Academic City
  • CNG Compressed Natural Gas
  • EGL Existing Ground Level
  • HVAC Heating ventilation and air conditioning