Technological Change in Construction Affecting Sustainability – Green Building Technology
Issues concerning construction and the environmental sustainability have been of great concern. Many technological changes have taken place in construction industries to attain a sustainable life. Technological improvement has emerged because of the impact of the construction with the environment. A major technological improvement that has taken place in the construction industry is green building technology.
Green building is a new technology that has been introduced in building and construction companies It is also referred to as sustainable building. The green building technology aims at increasing the efficiency in buildings with their site uses by using processes and structures which are environmentally friendly and resource efficient. The green building technology aims at changing the nature of operation, construction, maintenance, design, demolition, and renovation of buildings.
Green building technology aims at finding a sustainable balance between home and industrial building and the sustainable environment. For this to be achieved, it requires keen intervention in different construction sectors including the design team, the engineers, and the architects together with the project clients in each phase of the construction project. The green building technology is aimed at expanding and complementing of the classical system of building design which is concerned with the economical sustainability, their utility, comfort, as well as durability.
The green building technology is designed in order to curb the impact from the built environment to that of human health and natural environment in different ways. These ways include;
1. Sustainable water usage, energy and resources available.
2. Promoting the health of the occupants and improving the productivity of employees
3. Reducing resulting wastes, environmental pollution, and degradation.
Buildings have got a great impact on the environment if they are not checked. The impact caused by the construction of building also extends to the health of people within the building. The technological change in construction looks at the resultant improvement over a long period, which is the entire life-cycle in construction including its subsequent operations, disposal costs and the maintenance of the building.
Green Building Technology – Was it introduced as a cost-saving measure or for other reasons such as meeting building regulations or improving thermal performance, etc.?
As mentioned above, green building technology was introduced in order to achieve a sustainable environment. This including saving on the cost of construction, reducing the impact of construction to the environment, Sustainable water usage, energy and resources available, as well as minimization on the waste disposal which causes environmental pollution and degradation.
Building has an adverse effect to the health of individuals. The public health is affected by the construction, the building design and operation practices. The effects of buildings to health can be grouped in three main categories.
1. Effect on those occupying the building: various aspects on the building affect the health of the occupants, the staff, and visitors of a certain building. This includes indoor air circulation. The indoor air circulation of a building depends on the physical design of the building, which includes the ventilation, waste disposal locations, airflow, and pressure. Daylight access in the building also affects the occupant.
2. Effect on the health of the community surrounding the building: Health of the surrounding community is affected by the building. This can also result from waste material from the building. It also has an impact on the water management and air circulation to the neighboring community.
3. The effect of the entire global community: The health effect of the building extends beyond the immediate community. The production material of a building can constantly release toxic components to the environment. The components can cause severe effect to the larger community such as the effect of CFCs.
The goals achieved by introduction green building technology included energy efficiency, water efficiency, and material efficiency and improved indoor environment. On energy efficiency, the green building technology aims at reducing the total capacity of energy used in its construction and operation.
For this reason, buildings are constructed in a way that they will save on energy and avoid energy wastage through several ways such as siting a building in place where there is enough daylight to be used instead of electricity during the day. The houses are also fitted with solar water heaters to cut on energy use and cost in heating.
Sustainable building also aims at reducing the overall consumption of water. For this reason, water harvesting techniques have been incorporated in the construction of buildings to harvest rain water. Installation of water recycling and purifying machines is also put in place to ensure water efficiency and conservation. The technological changes in the construction industries have helped to achieve a sustainable environment which is necessary to reduce the impact caused by building to the people within them and the surrounding community.
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The popularity of the issue of sustainability has been growing in the past several decades and it now represents a priority point for the strategic planning and operations of companies, organizations, but also for communities and whole countries (Bell and Morse, 2008). This report addresses one particular area of sustainability from a business perspective and that is the area of monitoring and evaluation.
In order to enable this, the report refers to the theory behind the concept of monitoring systems, indicators and most importantly, the characteristics and features that these systems and indicators need to possess in order to be successful and effective.
To enable a more detailed analysis, this specific sustainability area has been overviewed by applying the selected theory to practice. IKEA has been chosen as the company of interest of this report, and its sustainability efforts, accomplishments and plans have been considered from the perspective of the three sustainability dimensions.
To furthermore focus the research and analysis conducted in this report, one specific dimension of sustainability, the environmental one, has been chosen and reviewed in more depth. In relation to this, an identification and selection of relevant indicators has been conducted and these indicators have been analyzed in terms of their measurement and limitations. The purpose of this was to ensure the tangibility of the indicators and to identify the potential problems that the company may encounter while pursuing the set objectives and goals.
Over the last three decades, sustainable development has become priority for a large number of countries, communities and organizations. All of these expect one thing from their various development programs and projects and that is to deliver results (Bossink, 2012). This is why the ideas and actions that are implemented in these projects and programs have begun to be evaluated form one perspective – whether or not they promote, enable, improve sustainability. But, in order to answer this question, countries, communities and organization in fact have to provide the answers to two other questions – what will success mean and how do we know that this success have been achieved (Gorgen & Kusek, 2009).
Monitoring systems are what makes the answers to these questions possible. By definition, monitoring stands for the periodic and repetitive measurement of specific values of variables, and represents one of the crucial factors in the actual achievement of sustainability (Chai, 2009). The sustainability monitoring systems are designed to gather information, cross reference it in regards to a set scale and support the decision making process. The data that is received as a result from the monitoring systems enables the decision makers to assess whether or not they are on the track with sustainability progress and helps them to quickly identify if something has diverted the organization from the planned path and how to quickly move back to it (Devuyst, Hens & De Lannoy, 2001).
In order for monitoring systems to achieve the objectives they have been designed to achieve, they need to be well defined, optimized and tested continuously to ensure their adequacy. But, what they need the most is a good set of indicators that will be used for the actual measuring (Dalal-Clayton & Bass, 2002).
Indicators related to various aspects of the society have become increasingly popular after World War II. Economic and social indicators have been introduced during the second half of the twentieth century, even though some of them did not manage to capture the political acceptance that they aimed for. In addition to these indicators, the environmental ones began to take up a significant portion of the public attention with the strengthening of the global environmental movement (Lawn, 2006).
After the emergence of all these indicators, sustainability became the No. 1 topic during the 1990’s making sustainability indicators as important as the issue itself. These indicators were first developed by the United Nations, but they have been continually developed and widened with the use of various different approaches (Zoeteman, 2012). The greatest improvements of the sustainability indicators were introduced by a number of non-governmental agencies, and mostly the United Nations, the OECD, the European Union and the World Bank, who have been investing significant resources and efforts into the development of these indicators (Patterson, 2002).
However, their efforts did not end there, which leads to the next most important trend in the development of sustainability indicators. Namely, after setting up the base of indicators, the aforementioned agencies and organizations have attempted to standardize this set across different countries in order to enable the tracking and comparing of the achieved progress in relation to one another. Today, this set of basic sustainability indicators numbers about 200 indicators, about 50 of which are considered as core sustainability indicators (UN, 2013). And even though they have been primarily intended for use by countries, today they are widely accepted and used not only by countries, but also by communities, companies and various organizations (Hak, Moldan & Dahl, 2007).
What Makes Good Monitoring Systems And Indicators?
According to Espinosa and Walker (2011), it is essential that the monitoring system used is well defined and relevant. In addition to a base set of indicators, every monitoring system needs to integrate four crucial elements in order to be successful and efficient. These four elements are ownership, management, maintenance and credibility. Here, ownership stands for and comes from all of those who use the system in every level, or represents the stakeholder of the system. Kusek and Rist (2004) argue that if people who do not recognize the need of such a system or do not have any use of the data collected with the monitoring system, than there will be issues related to the control of the quality.
Management answers the questions of who, where and how will manage the system, which is crucial as it ensures timely collection and distribution of data in order to support the decision making process. Maintenance ensures that the system used will not crash or decay. This means that updates, improvements and control continuously undertakes to enable the renewal, rebuilding and strengthening of the system. Finally, credibility ensures that reliable and valid data are collected with the system, which means that the data will be realistic or not tempered with, and also that both bad and good data will be displayed and used by the system (Kusek & Rist, 2004).
The selection and use of indicators is also one of the main factors that define the quality of the monitoring system in general. When selecting these indicators, it must be taken into consideration that their number should be relatively small and that they should be chosen in accordance with the following criteria (Gosling & Edwards, 2006):
Data collected will clearly show whether set objectives have been achieved or not
The problems to which the indicators refer are of priority for the organization
The data needed is available and it can also be gathered accurately and effectively
The data gathered will be used for evaluation and reporting
In addition to these criteria, sustainability indicators should also have a number of other qualities including tangibility, regardless of whether qualitative or quantitative indicators are used, linkage to the set objectives, relevancy for various stakeholders of the monitoring system, they need to be specific, need to reflect different situations, to reflect changes and to have a well-defined and specific baseline data that will clearly show whether results are good or bad (Gebremedhin, Getachew & Amha, 2010).
The history of IKEA which spread across 6 decades of success actually began in the 1920’s in a farm in southern Sweden where the IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad was born. He pursued the idea of having his own business ever since he was a little boy, and at the age of five, he began his first trading attempts by selling matches to his neighbors. He soon found out that he could buy matches in greater amounts for cheaper price from Stockholm and then sell them with good profits. His matching endeavor was so successful that he expanded his business to selling greeting cards, flower seeds, Christmas ornaments, pencils and pens (IKEA, 2013).
In 1947, Kamprad introduced furniture into his business. He used local manufacturers, enabling him to lower the costs of the items he sold, which led this branch of his company to become very successful. In fact, it became so successful that he soon turned out all of his other products and decided to focus solely on furniture. IKEA opened up its first showroom for the furniture in 1953 (IKEA, 2013).
During the following several years, IKEA began to sell more and more furniture, which soon led it to come into direct confrontation with its main competitor and soon entered into a price war. In order to minimize the expenses as much as possible, and thus make the price war endurable, IKEA started implementing some of the concepts that will eventually make it one of the world’s greatest companies. These concepts refer mainly to stylish and innovative design which enabled flat packaging. This in turn, enabled a minimization of the transportation costs, reduced the damaged acquired during transport, increased the capacity of IKEA’s inventory, and made it easier for customers to take their own furniture home (Parker, 2012).
According to Haig, the innovative approach to packaging and the main focus of IKEA to producing stylish and good quality products at affordable prices is not the only reason why IKEA is being referred to as a concept company. Namely, the spirit of the company, in the words of Kamprad himself, consists of thrift, enthusiasm, humbleness, responsibility and simplicity. These are the very qualities that the company does not implement only in the design of its products, but also in all of its operational practices (Haig, 2007).
The Three Dimensions of Sustainability in IKEA
The extent to which IKEA is committed to sustainable development is evident from several perspectives. Primarily, IKEA has created a sustainable strategy that is systematic and well defined, but has also been upgraded and improved continually. Besides from setting short-term objectives in its annual strategies, IKEA has also constructed a long-term strategy setting its goals and priorities for achievement of sustainable development by the year of 2020. This strategic plan offers concepts and guidelines that the company follows in the achievement of its goals of environmental, societal and economic nature, thus addressing the three dimensions of sustainability (IKEAa, 2013).
The environmental dimension in the IKEA’s sustainability strategy is represented through a number of initiatives and programs which include supply of the wood used for the production of furniture from preferred sources. In 2012, over 22 per cent of the total wood used came from FSC – Forest Stewardship Council certified forests. It is also projected in the long-term strategy that this percentage will be over 50 per cent by the end of 2017. Furthermore, the cotton used in the production of furniture is produced in alignment with the Better Cotton Initiative, and it is planned that 100 per cent of all the cotton used should be such by the end of 2017 (IKEAa, 2013).
The company also invests in the sustainability training of farmers and foresters to ensure that the issues are addressed at the very source. Other environmental initiatives include production and use of renewable energy from the wind, the sun and biomass. In 2012, the company has produced 34% of the total energy it consumed from renewable resources, enabled through the quarter of a million solar panels placed on the company’s facilities and 83 wind turbines that have operated during 2012 (IKEAa, 2013).
The social dimension of sustainability is also addressed in IKEA. Not only that the company is committed to designing and production of furniture that will improve the quality of life for all of its consumers, but also the company makes significant efforts to ensure the rights and well-being of all of its workers. The company also requires that all of its suppliers also be compliant with the people strategy of IKEA. This strategy is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that have been implemented. Furthermore, the company also supports the best interests of all children, and implements the Children’s Rights and Business Principles all throughout its operations to ensure the protection of their rights. Finally, it must be stated that part of the sustainable strategy of the company is to ensure that 95 per cent of employees and suppliers as well as 70 per cent of all the consumers consider the company as a company that is highly environmentally and socially responsible (IKEAa, 2013).
The economic dimension of sustainability is represented in both the short and long-term strategy of the company. In fact, in terms of economic performance and growth, IKEA has set a series of goals which include the increase of production and sales volumes of its products to four times by 2020. In the meantime, IKEA is focused on achievement of short-term goals, sales and growth. In 2011, for example, these goals were both achieved as the company has opened up stores in several new countries, finishing the year with 287 stores in 26 different countries, and has managed to increase its global net profits by almost 7 per cent, amounting to a total of 24, 7 billion Euros (The Local, 2012). This indicates that the economic dimension of sustainability still remains to be an important focus of the company.
The Environmental Sustainability Dimension in IKEA
In accordance with what has been stated above about the three sustainability dimensions applied to the operations of IKEA, it is clear that the company is dedicated to all three dimensions equally, and is investing serious resources and efforts to achieve positive financial goals and positive social impact, while reducing the damage and negative influence on the environment, and this is, in fact, the true purpose and goal of sustainability. Considering the nature of business that IKEA runs, and its great impact on the environment in particular, which is due to the use of natural resources as production materials, this dimension of sustainability is especially interesting for IKEA. Indeed, the company needs to employ additional efforts to ensure that the negative impact of its operations on the environment are minimized and/or diminished. This is why this dimension has been selected for further exploration.
List and Assessment of Sustainability Indicators
The importance of the environmental dimension for IKEA is so great that it is necessary for indicators for monitoring this dimension to be very carefully selected. In order to enable this, the criteria for selection of indicators stated above were used. Also, the key features of effective indicators were also considered during the selection. Consequently, a list of several indicators for monitoring environmental sustainability has been created and is given in detail below:
Increase of FSC certified wood used
Ensure that all the wood is certified and comes from companies – suppliers that are also committed to sustainability
Percentage of FSC certified wood used in the production of furniture (goal – 100 per cent).
Lack of FSC certified companies – suppliers present and operational locally, which may increase total cost of expenditure due to transport and import costs
Increase of Better Cotton Initiative cotton used
Ensure that all of the cotton used in the production of the furniture is in compliance with the Better Cotton Initiative
Percentage of Better Cotton Initiative cotton used in the production of furniture (goal – 100 per cent)
Lack of suppliers aligned with the Better Cotton Initiative present and operational locally, which may increase total cost of expenditure due to transport and import costs
Increase of main furnishing materials used for the production of the furniture that are made from renewable, recycled or recyclable materials
Ensure that all of the materials used in the production are renewable, recycled or recyclable
Percentage of renewable, recycled or recyclable materials used in comparison to total materials used
Production of renewable energy
Production of as much renewable energy as it is consumed by the company
Percentage of renewable energy produced in comparison with the consumption
Use of electric vehicles and environmentally safe transport solutions
Use of electric vehicles and environmentally safe transport solutions to and from the store to ensure that all aspects of the company related to energy used are from renewable sources
Percentage of used electric vehicles from the car parks of IKEA and the proximity – availability of environmentally safe public transport to the IKEA stores
Local level of sustainability, government policies
If this list of indicators is analyzed, it shows that all of the indicators selected are very realistic, in line with the priority problems of the company in relation to the environmental dimension of sustainability, and above all measurable. Indeed, for each of this indicator a good base line is identified and it is easy to assess what the progress of the company actually is in its achievement of the set goals and objectives. However, the analysis also shows that there are two types of factors that influence the limitations or challenges related to these indicators. The internal factors are related to the company and refer mostly to the increase of costs of production which is not considered to be a serious problem. The external factors, on the other hand, refer to forces that are outside of the influence of the company. These are mainly related to the existence of suppliers with the desired sustainable operations in terms of certification or compliance. Given that the company acquires its materials and products made by other supplier locally in order to reduce the expenses, this can be considered as a serious problem. However, the demand that IKEA sets on its suppliers may influence setup of such companies due to economies of scale.
Bell, S., & Morse, S. (2008). Sustainability Indicators: Measuring the unmeasurable. London, UK: Earthscan.
Bossink, B. (2012). Eco-innovation management and sustainability. New York, NY: Routledge.
Chai, N. (2009). Sustainability performance evaluation system in government. Springer Science + Business Media.
Dalal-Clayton, B., & Bass, S. (2002). Sustainable development strategies: A resource book. London, UK: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
Devuyst, D. Hens, L., & De Lannoy, W. (2001). How green is the city? Sustainability assessment and management in urban environments. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Espinosa, A., & Walker, J. (2011). IKEA A complexity approach to sustainability: Theory and application. London, UK: Imperial College Press.
Gebremedhin, B. Getachew, A., & Amha, R. (2010). Results based monitoring and evaluation for organization working in agricultural development. International Livestock Research Institute.
Gorgen, M., & Kusek, J. (2009). World Bank. IKEA Case Study.
Gosling, L., & Edwards, M. (2006). Toolkits: A practical guide to planning, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment. London, UK: Save the Children.
Hak, T. Moldan, B., & Dahl, A. (2007). Sustainability indicators: A scientific assessment. Paris, FR: SCOPE.
Haig, M. (2007). Brand Royalty: How the world’s top 100 brands thrive and survive. London, UK: Kogan Page Limited.
Kusek, J., & Rist, R. (2004). Ten steps to a results based monitoring and evaluation system. World Bank.
Lawn, P. (2006). Sustainable development in ecological economics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
Parker, D. (2012). Service operations management: The total experience. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
Patterson, M. (2002). Headline Indicators for tracking progress to sustainability in New Zealand. Wellington, NZ: Ministry for the Environment.
Zoeteman, K. (2012). Sustainable development drivers: The role of leadership in government, business and NGO’s performance. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
Sustainable Construction Industry Dissertation – The most pressing issue in the 21st century is climate change. The positive advances in sustainable construction indicate the dedication to lowering emissions and making sure that sustainable living is widespread throughout society. The UK Government has instilled various climate change initiatives, subsidies and targets into the industry in attempt to boost the uptake of sustainable development in the construction industry. However, the pressures for building green detriment the ability to build low cost developments.
The economic recession faced by the UK is inaugurating the conflict between sustainable development and value for money. In order to determine the consequences that the sustainable building culture has had on the construction costs a literature review was carried out on a number of resources containing Government reports, Regulations and Laws, manufacturers information, research from professional bodies and academic reports.
A survey was also conducted, gathering the opinion of people with invested interest in the construction industry. The findings of this report suggest that at present, sustainable construction is costing more to implement during the initial construction phase, which is understandable due to the increased levels of technology installed. The majority of sustainable developments are occupied by business use, which indicates that zero carbon homes are not yet affordable as domestic homes. However, market trends suggest that in the future, once all homes are sustainably built, the prices will level off with the eradication of the prestige value.
The hypothesis of this research dissertation is that with more and more pressures and new legislation applied to sustainable construction this may be forcing contract costs to rise. With the client in mind, rising capital costs may hinder their objectives. It will be considered that there may be methods of lowering cost while still achieving an element of sustainable construction. The main aim of this research dissertation is to ascertain the relationship between sustainable construction and the costs associated with building green.
Sustainable Construction Dissertation Objectives
Review current legislation and framework in place to endorse sustainable construction
Examine the relationship between the initial cost of sustainable construction and the whole life cost of completed projects
Outline the trend in construction costs in relation to advances in sustainable construction
Explore the reactions and opinions of construction professionals on costs of building green
Determine recommendations to be used in order to best develop the sustainable construction industry while achieving the clients objectives
I do hope you enjoyed reading this post on sustainable development on the UK construction industry. 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 sample construction dissertation topics 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.
The recent economic crises within the UK, Europe and the world continues to worsen and along with it growing concerns continue to increase over the fragile state of our environment with rising fears over climate change and global warming. Energy security along with the need to secure energy supply has been prioritised as a short to medium term objective by governmental authorities as climate change protocols appear to be set as a medium to long term priority. This hypothesis aims to assess the effects the recent economic crisis is having upon the property industries commitment to sustainability. It will provide an overview of the concept of sustainability, detailing the current constraints and the means by which it needs to be addressed in the future. This research paper will examine the legislations that have been produced to meet future targets within the property industry highlighting key initiatives for future sustainable development. Furthermore, it will deliberate the concept of green development identifying its key strengths, benefits and the provisions required to be incorporated in green leases and developments within the industry. It is essential that sustainability takes more precedence in the future to help curb global warming and in doing so establish the current global recession and its effects on sustainability with the realisation that the property industry must comply to promoting sustainability in order for greater environmental conditions. It seeks to identify the key roles and relationships faced by practitioners within the property industry and the need for mandatory procedures to adhere to regulation and establish greater levels of sustainable development in new and existing buildings.
To provide an overview of the concept of sustainability and its effects on the property industry
Research the government’s laws and regulations towards promoting green development and betterment towards sustainability
To identify the problems of the economic crisis and its effect upon promoting sustainability
To understand and anticipate practitioner’s commitment towards sustainable development and how the lapse in the commercial market and limited bank lending has affected their decisions
The fundamental issue of sustainability within the built environment is becoming an increasingly topical subject; and yet the term sustainability defies specific definition among many of those working within the property sector, with many unsure as to what it actually means. Sustainability is now reaching the top of many political agendas with growing concerns at the realisation of the rate of climate change and so the progress in encouraging sustainability is becoming an essentiality. The term sustainability in relation to property development can be loosely defined as the location, design and development of property which is economically viable, environmentally responsible and which has a positive, material effect on the quality of life. With the strain caused by the recent financial downturn in the economy this study examines how both this and the need for environmental sustainability will prevail and how those working within the property sector have taken to their commitment to sustainability with the rise of economic turmoil, said to be the worst recession since World War I. This literature review takes a closer look at the different concepts of sustainability, recent government measures to improve sustainability and how the recent economic downturn has impacted upon the sustainability agenda by the new government legislation in attempts to produce a Zero Carbon environment. With the lack of academic papers available it will acquire professional statements, government publications and reports to review any literature upon promoting sustainability, its definition and the global recession’s impact upon practitioners’ commitments to adhering to regulations for future betterment of the built environment.
Chapter 1 – Introduction This chapter introduces the problematic issue surrounding global warming and how the concept of sustainability must be realised in order to reduce carbon emissions and the challenges it brings within the property industry. The current financial climate is addressed and the financial impact it has upon the property industry together with legislative regulations produced by the government to reduce carbon footprint of buildings and promote sustainability. The chapter outlines the aims and objectives of the research study, entailing the outline methodology and the research methodology that will be utilised to perform this study.
Chapter 2 – Review of Literature on sustainability Literature review assists in addressing the concept of sustainability, identifying its principles, the government’s actions to tackle this problematic issue within the built environment and the future strive for green development.
Chapter 3 – Review of literature on the economic crisis’ impact upon sustainability within the property industry Literature review on the current economic crisis and its effects upon both sustainability and the property industry and the relationship held between each of these three elements.
Chapter 4 – Research Methodology This chapter examines the research methodology to be applied to carrying out the research.
Chapter 5 – Research Findings and Analysis The results from the interviews will be used to provide an analysis to go along with the literature review in order to evaluate the hypothesis formulated in section 1.
Chapter 6 – Conclusion This chapter gives a conclusive result of the research conducted, and provides a summary and evaluation, identifying the constraints felt during the process of producing this report and an answer to the hypothesis.
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