Implementation of Sustainable Practices in UK Construction Organizations: Drivers and Challenges

By Alex Opoku and Chris Fortune.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The construction industry is a very important sector in achieving society’s sustainable development goals; however the change towards sustainability is a process that presents challenges. The construction industry provides benefits to society as well as causing negative impacts; this makes it a key sector in the delivery of a sustainable built environment. The quest for sustainability has put enormous pressure on construction organizations from the government and the general public to improve on its currently unsustainable pattern of project delivery. It is becoming a key requirement for construction organizations to deliver projects that addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainability.

This research investigates the drivers and challenges facing construction organizations in United Kingdom (UK) in attempting to embed sustainable construction practices. This issue is a strand of work within an ongoing PhD study on the topic “promoting sustainable practices through leadership in construction organizations”. A qualitative study with fifteen (15) UK construction organizations is presented. It involves interviews with leaders in these organizations including; sustainability directors, managers and consultants. This research examines the factors driving these UK construction organizations to adopt and promote sustainable practices. It also critically examines key challenges affecting the effective implementation of sustainability in construction organizations.

The analysis of the collected qualitative data revealed that, for many construction organizations, the key driver to pursue the sustainable agenda is their reputation as a green company. They also believe that, it’s good for business as it helps them win more contracts. However, one major challenge facing construction organizations, according to the findings from the interviews is a lack of client demand for sustainability due to a wrong perception of high cost associated with sustainability.

Keywords: Construction Organizations, Sustainable Practices, Drivers, Challenges

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.121-132. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 302.300KB).

Dr. Alex Opoku

PhD Research Student, School of Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, Manchester, UK

I am a PhD reserach student at Salford University in construction management. I’m in my second year and working towards a framework for promoting sustainable construction practices in construction organizations through learning and leadership.

Prof. Chris Fortune

Professor, School of Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK

I am a professor on construction management.