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Academic project: Perceptions of sustainability in the construction industry

Status: Completed | Date: August 2016

Person: Tercia Jansen van Vuuren | Subject: Engineering for Sustainable Development | Supervisor: Professor Peter Guthrie

Project summary: Investigating the attitudes and perceptions of individuals across the project hierarchy to sustainability, using a construction site in Cambridge as a case-study.

Key findings: The understanding of sustainability varied greatly both across and down the project hierarchy. Most of the interviewees did not have a holistic understanding of the concept and focused on the environmental aspect, demonstrating familiarity with issues such as materials and waste. Most interviewees believed that they could not influence sustainability and felt constrained by prior decisions made by others.

Read the full summary here.

Recommendations: Given the traditional focus on cost, it is necessary to change the system factors so that the most expensive choice is being unsustainable. Furthermore, there is a need to know how to create a culture of voluntary industry action that goes beyond mere compliance. As a major client, the University has the opportunity to drive this process by prioritising sustainability and incentivising contractors accordingly.

How has it been used? The report has been sent to those in Estate Management who are working on the approach to be taken on sustainable construction, and the manager of the construction project used as the case study.