Sustainability today is a major term included in every agenda of almost every
country, similar to the fashion trend blindly being followed by one from other,
without understanding the concept beyond it. Many efforts have been made in
developed countries regarding sustainability at different levels but the word still
hasn't received that importance in developing countries. In reality it isn't that
complex term. The term was first used by a German forester and a scientist,
Hans Carl in 1713 in his book, Sylvicultura Oeconomica. But it was recognized
only after the Brundtland Report, 1987, from World Commission on
Environment and Development defined it as '
'Sustainability is to meet the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.'
Until today it is recognized as the standard definition of sustainability, which
clears the concept of providing best to humans and its environment now and
also in future.
The International Union of Conservation Scientists (IUCN), United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) define sustainable as,
'Sustainability is improving the quality of human life while living within the
carrying capacity of the Earth's supporting eco-systems.'
These days, there are thousands of definitions regarding sustainability but the
major understanding remains same, which are:
' Understanding the interconnection between economy, society and
' Knowing human limits regarding resources
For better understanding, Sustainability has been divided into 3 types, which is
stated by World commission on environment and development, 1987:
' Environmental sustainability
' Social sustainability
' Economic sustainability
2.1.1 Environmental Sustainability
Environmental sustainability can be understood, as 'meeting human needs
without compromising the health of ecosystem' (Morelli, 2011). It is the capacity
of environment to support and maintain its quality and resources. Today
environment depletion is a biggest issue especially in Developing Countries.
Figure 1 Principle of Sustainability (World commission on environment and development, 1987)
2.1.2 Social Sustainability
It is the ability of a system to function properly for social well-being at different
level, where the system may comprise of a family, an organization or a country
as a whole. A society is an acting force to drive a nation's economy and
2.1.3 Economic Sustainability
The ability to support economic production at a defined level is understood as
The three pillars of sustainability are highly interconnected which ensures longterm
well-being of human and promotes a quality living. Sustainability is more
likely to be efficient when these components are combined rather than they
being compromised for the sake of construction. When the importance of each
pillars are clearly understood it significantly helps in decision-making process
for a healthy and enhanced standard of living.
2.2 Principles of Sustainability
Nowadays there are lots of articles, journals emerging in context with
sustainability and its underlying principles. The information obtained are vast
and vague, so the RIO Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992,
has published the principles of sustainability which helps to understand the
concept clearly, which are as follows-
' The present development should not dominate the development and
environmental needs of future.
' Every individual have equal right to a healthy and productive life.
' The nation has every right to use its resources but responsibly.
' Unsustainable pattern of growth should be avoided by nation by
balancing the production and consumption ratio.
' Demographic policies should be promoted along with reducing disparities
in standard of living.
' Public should be made aware of the ecological issues and encouraged
for their participation.
' Effective laws and authorities should be categorized for strong
implementation of the rules from administrative side.
' Public and private sector should also cooperate at a regional level.
The objective of sustainability can be listed as:
' Offer fundamental human needs
' Control climate change
' Overall economic growth of nation
Figure 2 Aspects of Sustainability (verify sustainability, 2006)
' Accommodating the urbanization
' Sustain biodiversity
Figure 3 Importance of Sustainability (Sustainability report 2010)
3. Construction industry
Construction is a key factor for country's economic growth. A country's
development is directly proportional to its construction activity level. Wells, 1985
in his book, The Construction Industry in Development Context, defines
'The activity of the creation of physical infrastructure, superstructure and
related facilities. It therefore comprises all civil-engineering work and all types
of new building projects (including housing), as well as the maintenance and
repair of existing structures'.
The CIB Agenda 21 (Plessis, 2002a) explains construction as:
'The broad process/mechanism for the realization of human settlements and
the creation of infrastructure that supports development. This includes the
extraction and beneficiation of raw materials, the manufacturing of
construction materials and components, the construction project cycle from
feasibility to deconstruction and the management and operation of the built
The Construction Industry is therefore regarded as a vital prerequisite to socioeconomic
growth and development (J, 1986). (Ofori, 1990), defines
Construction Industry as:
'That sector of the economy which plans, designs, construct, alters,
maintains, repairs and eventually demolishes buildings of all kinds, civil
engineering work, mechanical and electrical engineering structures and other
Another explanation, which conquered the idea on Construction Industry, was
suggested by (Moavenzadeh, 1978), as:
'That sector of the economy which, through planning, design, construction,
maintenance and repair and operation, transforms various resources into
constructed facilities. The types of public and private facilities produced
range from residential and non-residential buildings to heavy construction'.
The outcome of the construction activity contributes a greater chunk of
economic support to its nation. These activities comprises of planning,
designing, structure, maintenance as well as its demolition. Today, the CI can
simply be referred to a service industry, which transforms the resources into
physical entity, thus shaping up the nation. The construction of the entire
physical infrastructure then stimulates the growth of the socio economic
development. The infrastructure also reflects the social values and culture of the
nation attracting foreign exchange.
The CI cannot run solely by an individual with a motive to support entire nation.
It needs various members from various sectors such as designers, contractors,
consultants, companies, firms, equipment and material suppliers, builders,
merchants as well as the end users who finally use them. For a CI to sustain in
its practice, a cordial relation between all its stakeholders is a must have. In
many countries, government acts as a client, financer, regulator as well as an
operator (Work, 2003). The figure below gives us an idea of disproportionate
growth of population, GDP and construction in developing countries.
Figure 4 comparisons on population, GDP and construction (Shaddad 1979)
3.2 Objectives of Construction Industry Development
CI is a complex and diverse area of workshop, which is influenced by various
aspects at various stages and levels as well. For CI to play its role safely in
supporting country's economy, it has to have that capacity and ability to meet
the demand of its people. Therefore, the CI development is very necessary
especially in the emerging nation's context. The development of CI should take
place in a deliberate manner in order to improve the effectiveness of the
industry to fulfil the economic need of the nation. It should mainly focuses on:
' Understanding the efficiency of domestic productivity and its competitive
' Valuing the social, economic and environmental responsibility.
' Enhancing the role of stakeholders, institutions, and technological
enablers along with appropriate development of human resources (Work,
2003; Ofori, 2012).
Depending upon the national goals and limited availability of the raw materials,
the CI sometimes needs to be capital oriented, if not there are high chances for
the industry to sink (Work, 2003; Ofori, 2012). A model developed by Fox and
Skitmore (2006) show six important traditional and cultural factors that influence
the development of CI.
Figure 5 Generic model of factors influencing construction industry (Fox and
3.3 Role of CI in national development
'If Construction moves, everything moves', this French saying is very famous
within the industry of the developed countries. No wonder, the CI there has
grown up to be the backbone of their economy.
CI is an integral and most probably the largest part of a nation's economic
structure. According to different surveys and reports, construction contributes
anywhere around 5% to 10% of the GDP in all countries. In addition, it also
reduces unemployment by engaging 10% of its working population and thus
acts as a catalyst to generate employment within the community. Construction
alone is credited for half of the country's gross fixed capital generation. (Lopes,
et al., 2000; Ofori, 2012)
As described earlier, CI is a function of various organization and sectors
bonding together at various levels. Thus, a movement in CI stimulates activities
in all the threaded sectors, contributing to its national economy (Ofori, 2012). It
generates income in formal as well as informal sectors and also provides
foreign exchange income through different trades.
When we look back into the history, nation like Germany was once in a terrible
state of destruction due to massive World War. But today it stands as a
powerful nation of the world with its magnificent housing and industrial
structures. The reason behind this huge transformation is their mature
construction industries that provided Germany a new identity and strength to re
stand and reshape its nation (Bakiy, 2013). Construction activities generate
infrastructure, which is crucial for achieving developmental targets like equitable
income, industrialization, urbanization and many more.
According to a survey from World Bank (2008), increase of a unit in expenditure
has a multiplier effect in CI as it efficiently generates income nearly as five times
the cost of unit increased. On the whole, CI by itself is a largest industry that
promotes investment, employment and GDP contribution on its own (Uher &
The CI functions as an engine for fulfilling wide perspectives of physical,
economical and social demands, and contributes enormously to achieve
national goals. The construction sector within no time has gained a significant
charm as an area for experimenting different cooperative works. It is all
because of the nature of its operation, its diverse prospects and position in
developmental activity (Moavenzadeh, 1978).
Duccio Turin in 1978 developed a set of indicators that relates the construction
output with economic performance. The indicators are listed below-
' Addition in GDP due to construction
' Additional value in Construction per capita
' Employment benefit due to construction
' Value added in Construction per person employed
' Ratio of value added per person employed in construction to value added
per person employed in manufacturing
Figure 6 Construction industry output in dollar from 1964 to 2012 (census 2012)
' Ratio of added value in construction to value added in built-up
' Wages in construction and manufacturing
' Efficiency in construction and manufacturing
3.4 CI in Developing Country
Although the construction industry has been recognized as the backbone of the
nation for national development, it faces thousands of problems and challenges
on daily basis. This situation occurs almost every day across the globe, may it
be developing country or the developed.
However, the challenges faced by the DC are more severe type being followed
by socio-economic stress, shortage of resources, inconvenient transportation,
political instability, weak institution etc. In general, it's the inability to tackle with
the key issues and therefore the problems are getting bigger and bigger by
passing years (Ofori, 2012). With the rapid urbanization, the seriousness of
challenges are increasing significantly, disturbing the modes and methods of
planning, designing, building, maintenance etc. Even though these problems
have somehow resulted in invention of new technologies, it is not as effective as
it is supposed to be in solving the problems in DC because the issues are more
serious, complex and deeply rooted. There are some historical problems as
well, which needs time to get solved. Some major prevailing issues are
3.4.1 Political Instability
Political instability is an acute issue in DC, and provides unfriendly environment
for foreign developers and investors. The chronic violence, riots,
demonstrations that occur frequently in such countries creates hurdles in the
path of construction. The destruction of existing infrastructure is the major
targets during such movements. Corruption is another factor that is related with
politics. It leads to favouritism, which eventually results in wrong decisionmaking
and inappropriate activities (Elkhalifa, 2011).
3.4.2 Scarce Resources
Almost all the countries are gifted with natural resources; it depends on the
user's choice to make it beneficial or useless. Even though the DC are blessed
with such natural resources, it cannot effectively make use of them due to
shortage of trained or skilled labourers or experienced professional and
sometimes due to lack of the capital needed. Besides the fact that CI acts as a
major contributor in GDP of DC, at times finance remain as constraints without
which no industry can step further (elKhalifa, 2011).
3.4.3 Unskilled and Inexperienced workforce
The construction sector of DC widely depends upon the freelance unskilled
seasonal workforce. This working group perform their task as instructed by the
contractors and move from one construction site to another for employment.
These labourers most of the time turn out to be unreliable as they leave the
working place once they get a better deal. Since they are not educated and
legally committed, they don't follow their ethics and can't prove to be profitable
3.4.4 Poor Infrastructure
It's commonly known that infrastructure is directly proportional to productivity.
When the infrastructure is poor, it results in low productivity. The infrastructure
of DC is in pitiable condition without good accessibility, transportation,
communication, utilities etc thus being responsible for slowing down the
construction process (elKhalifa, 2011).
3.4.5 Bad Practice
In DCs, the construction sector suffers a lot from lack of motivation and
discipline. Due to low literacy rate, the ethical values are not remembered. Even
the institutional policy needs to be revised. Sometimes the lengthy legal
procedures slow down the progress of the industry. Also the unpredictable
fluctuations in the prices of materials leads to increased cost of the project
forcing the contractor to multiply the budget. The other bad practice boiling up is
the tendering process. This doesn't allow the small contractors to participate or
win the contract because of unreliable, unskilled, inexperienced workers,
absence of ability to cover additional expense and ineffective technology to
carry bigger projects (elKhalifa, 2011).
The raving trend of Globalization has prominent probability to give rise to social
and economic inequality. The interaction of information, technology, market and
economy within different countries are good ways to get expose d to foreign
markets and develop foreign lending's. But this increases foreign participation
into the industry pushing away the indigenous contractor. But the interference of
the foreign contractors is good in certain manner. Edmons and Miles (1984) and
the World Bank (1984) have observed that some international projects that
happen in DC can be undertaken only under international supervision (Turin,
1973). These authors state that foreign collaboration is prominent with large
construction companies in DC.
Involvement of international finance
makes possible the implementation of
several projects, such as those of
Local construction firms have no
funds or expertise to participate in the
sponsorship of privatised projects.
Direct foreign investment in projects
leads to increase in construction
demand, creating work opportunities
for local firms.
Local construction companies lack
the technical and managerial
capability to undertake most of the
Competition among foreign firms
lowers the costs of projects to
It is possible that local firms will be
deprived of the opportunity to grow
Presence of large numbers of
international firms offers scope for
technology transfer and the
development of local firms and
upgrading of the industry. The large
number of such firms also means that
technology transfer can be a tool for
Foreign construction firms may pay lip
service to technology transfer or take
measures to avoid it. Moreover, local
companies may not be in a position to
benefit from technology transfer, or to
subsequently utilise the acquired
Table 2 Advantages and disadvantages of globalization (G.Ofori, 2000)
The impact of globalization in CI of the Developing world should be studied
deeply to find out the ways of minimizing the adverse effect and maximize the
benefits. The local contractors should acquire knowledge on relevant subjects
from its foreign counterparts to upgrade its experience and skills (Elkhalifa,
Studies show that a major portion of construction activities in DC is performed
by informal sector (Moavenzadeh, 1978; Wells, 1985. In addition, the demand
for housing is steadily rising which is beyond the supply capacity of these
nations. In many DC, around 30-70% of its housing stock is unauthorized
(elKhalifa, 2011). So if the output of this informal sector is to be considered, the
outcome of the construction activity will increase considerably.
To sum up we can say that the CI of the DC lacks skills, technologies,
resources and funding. Moreover the problems get deeper when the
government ignores the condition and doesn't warm up to address them. The
level of commitment and the legal execution is simply not adequate to improve
overall socio-economic condition of the nation (Elkhalifa, 2011).
The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS, 1996) encloses
the issues of CI in DC as:
Figure 7 place of CI in economy in developing and developed world (the
construction and building material industries for sustainable development in
developing countries, 2011)
'Key building materials are scarce and expensive; access to finance is
limited; much needed equipment and machinery are not easily available;
skilled workforce is underdeveloped; and other supporting mechanisms,
such as regulatory systems and research efforts, have had little or no
impact on the development trends of the industry. A further problem is that
large amounts of capital are needed to pay for large-scale infrastructure
with the financial returns coming over a long period. Such projects are only
profitable when considered over a time period that is longer than most
commercial investments. Investors are reluctant to commit capital to long
term projects when other investment opportunities give a more rapid payback
and when there is uncertainty about the future demand for new
(Ofori, 1994b) summarizes the problems as:
'Most developing countries have abundant human resources. However,
they face shortages of skilled construction personnel owing to inadequate
educational and training facilities and programmes. Construction
enterprises show little interest in human resource development; they adopt
casual employment practices. The level of technological development of
the industries is also low. This is due to inadequate R&D facilities and
programmes, poor linkage between research and practice and foreign
exchange difficulties which hinder the importation of equipment and
Ofori during his research came up with a flowchart that fluctuates the CI of DCFigure
8 factors fluctuating CI of the DC (Ofori 1993a)
Different matrix was derived by Turin and Ofori, which categorized the CI of the
DCs and helped to understand the requirements of the industry and assess its
capacity for improvement.
The current study simplifies the categorization of the CI which can be described
Governmental building, renovating, maintenance,
repair, and demolition of government
Figure 9 categorization on CI in DC (Turin, 1973; Ofori 1993a)
Table 3 latest categorization of CI ( source: Construction Industry Portal,
3.5 Impacts of construction industry
The CI plays an important role in developing socio economic status of the
nation. They are responsible in planning, designing, developing infrastructures
along with many other activities, which directly or indirectly has significant
impact on the built environment. In order to drive the economic growth and fulfil
the nation's demand, the CI has been focusing on new inventions and
technologies regularly. In this pace they are forgetting that these activities can
have several consequences on the ecology. The impact of the construction
industry can be categorized as- (Plessis, 2002a)
' Environmental impact
' Social impact
' Economic impact
3.5.1 Environmental Impact
Today developing countries are undergoing enormous number of construction
process as compared to Developed countries. Also because the level of
industrialization is very low here thus making Construction sectors a biggest
positive contributor in economy. At the same time they are the biggest culprits in
polluting our environment through its activities. According to studies by World
watch Institute, 2012, 40% of the raw sand, gravel and stone is solely
consumed by building construction yearly. Each year building accounts for 40%
of energy consumption as well as 16% of water globally. This results in
ecological misbalance and resource depletion. Global warming, a major threat
of today is one of the severe and visible result (Baloi, 2003).
The prime offender of climate change is modern construction material like
concrete and steel. The massive GH emission takes place while processing
such materials resulting pollution. The other factor is waste generation from
manufacture and demolition process, which are dumped irresponsibly. The
construction site of DC generally occupies the entire area destroying the
greeneries. (Plessis, 2002). The table below explain the impact of construction
industry to the built environment.
What is used Where it is built How it is built What is built
facility; nature of
of the land
design of facility
(e.g. potential of
day lighting and
land is restored
after extraction (if
proximity to water
Extent of use of
energy and other
processed displacement of
(housekeeping) resources in
raw materials are
loss of livelihoods
Welfare of site
to, and stored on,
are moved on site
Impact on local
Table 4 Environmental impact and consideration of construction activities
3.5.2 Social Impact
Construction has its strong social impacts on the DC. It mainly deals with
professional ethics, sound business practices and labour relationships. When it
comes to political connections, the impact may be positive as well as negative.
If corruption takes birth, then the society may not benefit because of
inappropriate decision making resulting in substandard construction, use of
materials without quality thus compromising with the life of the occupants.
Social responsibilities are often ignored. Major of our working population are
illiterate and are not aware of safety techniques, which may lead to severe
accidents and sometimes death. The CI also generates employment making the
society strong and self-dependent (Plessis, 2002a).
3.5.3 Economic Impact
The CI has the capability to encourage economic growth through its
performance. It provides employment opportunities, which add up to the
economic aspects. It is able to generate income through material production
and its distribution, along with financial marketing and sale of the property.
(M.M, 2006) came up with a framework that identified the barriers and drivers
of the construction sector of the DC. It addresses the importance of CI in
building sustainable infrastructure to achieve sustainable goals (elKhalifa,
Figure 10 Drivers and barriers of CI in DC (M.M,2006)
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