There have been many studies on what constitutes project and project management processes in recent years (for example Kerzner 2009; Lock 2007; Schlichter 2007; Wessels 2007; Green 2005; Zanfardino 2005; and Archibald 2003). While these studies only give general descriptions of project management practices, only few researchers investigated how sustainable practices can be achieved in projects management especially within the construction industry.
The UK construction industry is considered to be highly active sector contributing immensely to the depletion of natural resources and produces enormous amounts of wastes materials. Crudgington as cited by Holton, Glass, and Price (2010) believes that there are increasing legal and commercial pressures on this sector to be more sustainable in their activities. Therefore, the concept of corporate sustainability has been an important issue within the UK construction industry (Holton, Glass, and Price 2010).
This is because of the effects (positive or negative) that all construction activities have on the projects stakeholders (Olander and Landin 2005). This has consequently increased the importance of social aspect of sustainability which has been the basis to assess the feasibility of construction projects by stakeholders (Edum-Fotwe and Price 2008). Therefore, concerns of all those who have vested interest in the construction project should be addressed prior to its execution in order to achieve project objectives.
However, it is observed that construction activities consume about 60% of world’s resources and produces about 50% of global CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) emissions (Worldwatch Institute 2005). These gases have been consequently increasing far more than their natural threshold in the upper atmosphere causing changes in climate system.
Many studies (for example Stern 2006 and Streck 2007) have demonstrated that if current annual emissions of greenhouse gases remain the same, their concentrations by year 2100 would triple the pre-industrial levels. Therefore, the concept of sustainability is developed to mitigate the effects of global climate change and to promote adaptation strategies. This may significantly reduce the amount of wastes products and encourage re-utilization of these wastes materials particularly for construction purposes.
For many years now, the concept of sustainability has gained a wider acceptance from varieties of businesses in response to Agenda 21 declared at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. This has helped governments and many businesses to strategize their policies and practices with vast improvement on the usage of resources. Consequently, it allows industries to be more innovative in their operations (Azapagic and Perdan 2000) in building sustainable businesses which are not only socially acceptable, but also environmentally friendly and economically viable.
Sustainability is a term used to connote the ability of present generations to utilize resources without compromising the ability of future generations to consume theirs (Vollenbroek 2002 and Stern 2006). The concept has being used extensively to encompass three distinct elements which include economic, social, and environmental issues (United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change 2007).
It is aimed at promoting changes in the manners resources are being consumed (London2012 2010) and encouraging intergenerational equity in the usage of resources. In addition, this may increase environmental and economic stakeholders (and policy makers) involvements when making projects investments decisions.
In construction projects however, sustainable practices in the management of projects are required throughout the project lifecycle. This is to enhance the process of achieving stakeholders’ requirements and expectations (cost, time, environmental issues, legal issues, scope, and quality/performance).
Although, the current practices within the UK construction industry are not encouraging in terms of corporate social responsibility (Department of Trade and Industry 2006). However, the concept will increase construction projects value through efficient use of resources and energy, reduction in waste production, re-use/recycling of materials, and in human relations (Abidin and Pasquire 2007). As a result, projects and projects management principles are attracting more attentions from all the stakeholders involved in the initiation and execution of construction projects.
In light of this, project is understood to be a temporary endeavor with start, middle, and end date (Moore 2009) to achieve desired outcome and benefits (Association for Project Management 2006). Lock 2007 defines a project to be a translation of ideas and activities into new endeavors while Kerzner 2009 describes a project as an activity with specific objectives and scope to produce some specified deliverables which in that process consumes human and non-human resources. Construction industry which is observed to be project-oriented with huge amount of investments, rigorous project management principles are therefore required to complete all the activities involved (Woodward 1997 and Kerzner 2009).
Therefore, project management is “the process by which projects are defined, planned, monitored, controlled and delivered such that the agreed benefits are realized” (Association for Project Management 2006). It is however expected that approval of sustainable practices in construction project management processes will increase the opportunity of achieving stakeholders’ requirements. This will also justify the amount of resources invested on such projects.