The UK construction industry is a fast pace and ever changing industry, with an increasing emphasise towards sustainability. As the public awareness of sustainability enhances the pressure on the construction industry to consider the concept progresses. Life cycle costing (LCC) is a technique that allows monetary evaluation of alternative investment or design options taking into consideration all of the life cycle costs associated with a building. The costs generally related to LCC are made up of capital expenditure (CapEx), operating expenditure (OpEx), which comprises of operational and maintenance (O&M) costs, general in-use costs and disposal costs. The outcome of the process assumes that a slight increase in CapEx can result in considerable savings over the life span of a building. A review of the literature, relevant to the research subject will introduce the key principles of LCC and investigate the limitations and barriers preventing further application of the process within the construction industry. The research will also explore the term ‘sustainable development’ in addition to the implementation of sustainable construction within the construction sector.
Further, the aim of the research is to identify the extent to which life cycle costing can be integrated into sustainable design to deliver sustainable construction. The data collection was conducted using a questionnaire, which was distributed among industry professionals and online social groups. The results from this were then used to draw conclusions and recommend any area of further research
To examine the extent to which LLC and sustainable design are being effectively utilised in the construction industry today
To investigate the methodology and limitations of LLC and identify why it is not used more broadly within the industry
To analyse whether life cycle costing can be used effectively for reducing the environmental impact of construction projects
To construct a set of recommendations and decisive conclusions to help support the use of life cycle costing as a tool for sustainability
Dissertation Contents – Life Cycle Costing
1 – Introduction
Aims and objectives
2 – Sustainability in the Construction Industry
Importance of sustainability in construction
Demand for green construction
3 – Legislation
Regulation and Initiatives
Zero Carbon Homes for 2016
Sustainability assessment methods
4 – Costs
Substantiating the Economy
Whole Life Costs
Resale Cost and Value
5 – Research Methodology
Methods of research
Triangulation of methods
6 – Survey
Analysis of Responses
General identifying questions
Questions on legislation
The cost of sustainability
Innovative versus traditional methods of construction
7 – Conclusions and Recommendations
Aim and Objectives
Recommendations for further research
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Timber has been used as a construction material since the beginning of recorded history. Over the past 100 years its use as a structural element in large scale commercial or industrial buildings has fallen dramatically when compared to steel or concrete. An investigation into the properties and physical characteristics of timber has shown that with careful detailing and specification it can be used in almost any situation that steel or concrete is currently used in. It has also been demonstrated that timber is the most sustainable of the main construction materials provided it is produced under the auspices of the accredited certification schemes. This has led the researcher to question why it is not specified more often in the UK construction industry. A questionnaire was sent out to determine the attitudes to practitioners from several disciplines towards the use of timber as a structural element.
The results showed that timber is used less often than steel or concrete and the results show that in theory timber is suitable for most structural elements of a building; in practice it is rarely used due to the perceived difficulty in design and on site construction of the timber elements compared to similar steel or concrete designs. It is suggested that further research be conducted to establish if the actual difficulties in design and construction match the perceptions of the designers and contractors expressed in this research. It is further suggested that detailed research into the relative costs of timber, steel and concrete would identify whether the perception that ‘timber is an expensive option’ is true. The overall aim of the research is to compare timber with steel and concrete when used as a structural element. It is anticipated that the research will demonstrate that timber can replace steel or concrete as a structural element under certain circumstances and will attempt to establish why it is not more commonly used.
Evaluate the physical characteristics of timber, focusing particularly on its use as a main structural element, comparing the properties to similar steel and concrete elements
Identify whether the perception that timber is rarely used in commercial or industrial buildings is correct
After establishing whether objective 2) is true, identify a trend which indicates why timber use is rare or, if 2) is false, the reason why there is the perception
Establish whether the results of the research would have an influence on the choice of materials in the future
I do hope enjoyed reading this post on the use of timber as a structural element in construction projects. There are many other titles available in the construction dissertation collection that should be of interest to construction management students and building professional. There are many dissertation titles that relate to other aspects of construction such as project management techniques, environmental management, building and construction methods to name a few. It took a lot of time to write this post and I would be grateful if you could share this post via Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.
Title: Health Safety Construction – This report is as an advisory document to surveyors. It provides a critical appraisal of legal, economical and ethical issues relating to health and safety, considering the role of organisations and individual employees in complying with current legislation, and specifying limitations imposed on the conduct of the property professional.
Health and safety is an area of concern which every surveyor and property professional must address. The costs of failing to do so may be felt by the professional in question, or may be borne by the property organisation or their clients. Understanding of health and safety issues necessitates knowledge related to three specific areas of concern – strict parameters regarding legislation, and economic concerns, and the more general but nonetheless important area of ethical conduct. Legal concerns comprise statutory regulations regarding site visitation, health and safety inspection, on site conduct, and provision of safe and reliable equipment. Economic issues are related to the necessity of budgeting for health and safety training, insurance against injury, and loss of revenue resulting from legal action in cases of health and safety breaches. Ethics relates to the individual nature and integrity of property professionals, and the establishment of specific codes of conduct within organisations.
When visiting premises or sites it is compulsory for a property professional to possess appropriate legal certification. To this end, certification via a valid CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card is mandatory to gain access to all major UK construction sites (CITB, 2016). The purpose of schemes such as the CSCS is to ensure all construction professionals are competent and have the necessary training and qualifications for the work they will undertake (CITB, 2016). In addition, guidance issued by the Royal Institute of Chartered surveyors (RICS) states that, prior to any visit to a site or premises, a property professional should conduct a pre-assessment process to determine hazards that may be encountered on the visit (RICS,2011). To this end, it is important for the employer to have clearly understood procedures in place, and to provide suitable training and information for the employee (RICS,2011) This guidance should facilitate the organisation’s compliance with statutory regulations such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH). Under COSHH legislation an employer must to decide how to prevent harm to health, for instance by appropriate risk assessment.
Consideration must be given to the risk associated in regards to work-related health and safety of an employee in the working environment. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) “employers must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all employees” (HSE, 2016). Section 2 of the act specifies general responsibilities owed by an organization to its employees. For example, for the purposes of site visits, the employer is obligated to provide personal protective equipment (PPE), and the employer must ensure the PPE meets the minimum required standards and is fit for purpose. This stipulation is further supported by Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. In terms of this legislation, employers are also obliged to provide and maintain a safe working equipment (Rics, 2011). Compliance necessitates regular inspections to certify the fitness for purpose of PPE and all other on-site equipment. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a breach of section 2 of the HSWA, and may result in prosecution, as seen the case of HSE v Zurich Management Services Limited (Zurich) and Railcare Limited (Railcare).
Another key responsibility for employers is the provision of employee health and safety training. This should be facilitated by regular attendance on training courses covering current health and safety regulations. The employer must also provide employees with all relevant information regarding the company’s specific health and safety policies and procedures. It is important to note that the employer is not solely responsible for the health and safety of the organization. HSWA section 7 describes a statutory duty for the employee “to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts of work” (Legislations.gov, 2016). Therefore, employees must follow procedures, training and policies given by their employers. If an employee is unclear on any policies, or feels they are not adequately trained to complete a task, they are obligated to communicate this to the employer. Breach of HSAW section 7, often results in litigation relating to professional negligence, as seen in the case of HSE v Barry.
Surveys and Reports
Lone working is common in the property industry. There is no legislation against this practice; however, in the absence of appropriate risk assessments provisions and procedures, lone working may be hazardous. For this reason, under the Management of HSAW Regulations 1999, assessment of risk pertaining to lone working must be conducted every day prior to work commencement. This is further enforced by the HSE regulations stipulating the responsibility of employers to ensure the safety of their works (HSE,2013); prior assessment should be supported by clearly established procedures for communicating with the lone worker, and scrupulous maintenance of records by employer and employee alike. If it is deemed overtly hazardous, lone working should not be considered, or an extensive rescue and recovery plan should be implemented to reduce risks.
Hazardous surveys must be conducted in accordance with current regulations. Rulings and standards to this effect may be obtained directly from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This means that professionals are bound by strict methodologies when conducting surveys and writing reports.
When acting as Contract Administrator (CA) the property professional is obligated under the Constructions Design Management Regulations to manage health and safety risks throughout the construction process (HSE, 2015). The CA should prepare a written construction phase plan detailing the main dangers inherent in any given project, and suggesting appropriate control measures. For example, working at height necessitates a plan for the installation of gable ends, toe boards and guardrails. In general, the acting CA should have the relevant training, knowledge and experience necessary to carry out his duties safely. Again, this is supported by HSE regulations specifying the employer’s responsibility to ensure all employees are suitably trained to conduct specific tasks to which they are assigned.
Legally all organisations must meet certain criteria in order to comply with current health and safety legislation. Under the Employers’ Liability (compulsory insurance) Act 1969 employees based in Great Britain are required to obtain Employers’ Liability insurance (HSE, 2012). The cost of the insurance premium is solely dependent on the nature of the business and risks associated. The nature of activities in construction-related professions means that higher insurance premiums are to be expected. Failure to meet this requirement may result in fines of up to £2500 (HSE,2012). Additionally, the HSAW act 1974 requires employers to finance the provision of information and training to ensure the health and safety at work of their employees. For instance, it is mandatory for a construction-related company to provide for employee attendance at courses covering the incidence of work with hazardous material. Further expenditure will be incurred in the provision of equipment necessary to complete work safely, such as PPE. However, the cost of meeting statutory requirements may be subsidised, on the basis that it facilitates improved standards of health and safety. According to HSE documentation, in the year 2014, 3% of workers in the construction industry sustained a work related injury (HSE,2015). This amounted to 65,000 separate incidents, resulting in 1.7 million working days lost. Increasing health and safety standards will help to minimise the potential for work related injuries, consequently, decreasing the chances of loss in working days and resultant economic burden to employers.
Breach of HSAW regulations may pose significant economic threat to an organisation, as it often results in a monetary sanction. The HSE can bring prosecutions before the magistrates’ court in which penalties of up to £20,000 per breach may be imposed (RICS, 2011). Furthermore, under HSAW (offences) Act 2008 imprisonment is also a possibility for almost any offence (RICS, 2011). In more extreme cases, persons may be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The prosecution process whether it be for minor or substantial breaches, is bound to have a negative impact on the reputation of the organisation, resulting in a loss of clients and eventual a loss of earnings.
There are grey areas which are not governed by legislation in this case the moral integrity of an organisation or professional is relied upon. Regardless of the type of task being carried building surveyors should recognise that they have a responsibility to the public and should at all times act in a manner which affirms this (2008,).
Conclusion and Recommendations
Interpreting legislation can be problematic; ambiguous terminology such as ‘reasonable and practicable’ is often cited to summarise the necessary level of compliance to legislation. Documents such as the Surveying Safely RICS guidance note 1st edition (Gn 74/2011) provide advice on how a property professional may meet current legislation. While these guidance notes are not enforced by law, in circumstances in which allegations of legislative breaches are made against a surveyor, a court or tribunal is likely to take account of the substance of RICS guidance. By conforming to such guidance notes, a surveyor should have at least partial defence against allegations of professional negligence. Hiring a health and safety office may also be advisable to ensure that an organisation is practising in such a way as to comply with current legislation. In relation to economic issues, good practice may minimise the incidence of expenses incurred in consequence of breaches of legislation. While ethical conduct is significantly related to personal and professional integrity, appropriate ethical conduct may be further encouraged by the establishment of codes of conduct within individual organisations. Such measures allow for in-house disciplinary proceedings, and bring the added advantage of improving the public image of the organisation in question.
Environmental assessment methods such as BREEAM were launched in the UK in the early 1990’s, to encourage clients of the construction industry to consider both the internal and external environment when designing new build and refurbishment construction projects. Do these assessment methodologies actually influence clients design choices, or are there other factors that need to be considered? Different professions within the design team appear to have contrasting views on the success that BREEAM has had in improving the quality of our buildings and their surroundings. Interviewing seven design team members provided a sound base on which to assess the impact BREEAM has and is having on clients of the construction industry. Of the design team members interviewed, those employed by clients in the public sector were very familiar with BREEAM and its assessment methodology, with the exception of the local authority architects who suggested that they would only apply the methodology when forced to do so. They were unconvinced of the assessments merits and preferred to use their own assessment guidelines, despite recommendations by central government to use BREEAM. Those design team members employed in the private sector had limited or no knowledge of BREEAM or other assessment methodologies. The results indicate that public sector clients who are bound by government instruction are employing BREEAM on many of their projects. In situations where clients have a choice, cost is still the bottom line that determines whether sustainable solutions are agreed. The fragmented nature of the construction industry has hindered the knowledge transfer of sustainable issues to professionals, which appears to have arrested the adoption of BREEAM.
The aim of this research is to assess how BREEAM influences the design solutions and the workings of the design team process, on new build and refurbishment construction projects. There are two hypotheses that answer the main aim of this dissertation:
BREEAM adds confusion and complexity to the design team process.
Knowledge of BREEAM among construction professionals is limited as a result of its voluntary nature, and the fragmented characteristics of a construction industry with an inherent resistance to change.
In line with the above quote, more organisations are procuring green commercial buildings. The idea of having an assessment methodology encouraging clients of the construction industry to think about the impact that their new project will have on the environment, is essentially a good idea. In a world that is becoming increasingly concerned about its future it is important that clients and design team professionals can use these assessments to measure buildings’ specific environmental qualities. However, these tools are only useful if knowledge of their application is widely available and communicated to all those that require it and in a format that is straightforward and easily understood. There are a number of environmental assessment methods in use. However, in line with the above quote, this study will concentrate on BREEAM as it is considered to be the most familiar with clients and construction professionals. But, despite the sentiments of the above quote, it is unclear whether BREEAM has had a major impact on the construction industry and its clients. This dissertation aims to establish through qualitative research whether environmental assessment methods such as BREEAM are as influential as envisaged. It will address how BREEAM integrates itself into an already complex design process, within an industry that has inherent communication problems. The research will also examine other factors influencing clients’ decision-making processes, and establish how effective BREEAM is in the pursuit of sustainable practice.
I do hope enjoyed reading this post on environmental assessment methods and client decision making. There are many other titles available in the Construction Dissertation Collection that should be of interest to construction management students and building professional. There are many dissertation titles that relate to other aspects of construction such as project management techniques, environmental management, building and construction methods to name a few. It took a lot of time to write this post and I would be grateful if you could share this post via Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.
This post evaluates the use and deployment of technology within the Chinese construction industry. As competitive environments are constantly changing in the contemporary business world, managers are devising various flexible approaches to respond to such uncertainty and complexity. Deploying strategic information systems is an important approach to address such the challenges of flexibility in business competitiveness. During the 1980s and 1990s, we saw considerable financial investment into business IT in search for “competitive advantage” in various industrial markets. There were many academic papers as well as consulting reports studying the competitive benefits of IT in business in order to persuade firms to invest in strategic information systems. Many business company sought to replicate the success stories of IT enabled business strategy, such as United Airlines, Thomson Holidays and all the other celebrated cases that have entered the information systems mythology. Although the last three decades have seen the high speed growth of investment in information technology by companies, the exact way of getting competitive advantage through information technology is still vague and hard to be concretely grasped. Large investment of information technology is also accompanied by over evaluation of IT and decline in organizational performance, as shown in many cases of failure in IT strategies. Especially in developing countries, many companies are trying to learn from economically advanced economies and initiate their large investment in information technology in order to improve their competitive advantages.
The rate of failure is particularly high in such developing countries. This increased uncertainty suggests the need for improved strategic planning and management of information systems, and the need for consideration of local socio-economic environments. The aim of the dissertation is intending to study the information technology strategies in a typical construction company and develop a deeper understanding of how information technologies create new competitive advantages for construction companies in Chinese context. The need for a link between information technology (IT) use and business strategy in construction industry has been identified and discussed over a number of years. The objectives are threefold in this dissertation. First, I will have a literature review of current research on IT strategies, competitive advantage and IT in construction industries. Secondly, I will conduct fieldwork in a Chinese construction firm, collecting data by questionnaires and interviews, trying to understand the current situations of IT adoption within the Chinese construction industry. Last but not least, I will present an analytical framework which is used to analyse the IT strategies in Chinese construction companies.
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