Conceptual understanding of sustainability in Australian Construction firms

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Conference Proceedings Vol 1 & 2 for the Joint CIB International Symposium of W055, W065, W089, W118, TG76, TG78, TG81 AND TG84, 2012, pp. 318 - 330
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Given the connection between energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and the reality that the built environment emits around half of total emissions, the construction industry has considerable potential to reduce emissions and a key role in mitigating global warming. However there is evidence that our current understanding of the concept of sustainability is fragmented and unclear. There are a plethora of terms used to cover sustainable buildings, such as ecological, green, Gaian which come in and out of fashion over time; do they mean the same thing or are they different? Furthermore do construction firms demonstrate a clear understanding of the concept of sustainability or are they muddled and confused? The consequence of unclear thinking and a lack of understanding is that ultimately the construction industry is unlikely to deliver 'sustainability' efficiently or even at all, with the broader and more onerous consequences for society as a whole. In addition what are the implications for education and should academics be broadening the debate? Using a content analysis of published information regarding sustainability on construction company websites, this paper addresses the questions; (a)what is the conceptual understanding of sustainability within ten leading Australian construction firms and, (b) what is the implication of this level of conceptual understanding with regards to delivering sustainability?
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