Contractors’ Adaptation to Environmentally Sustainable Construction Processes.

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Environmental sustainability is foundational to achieving the global goals of sustainable development. The construction industry has a significant role to play in pursuance of environmental sustainability. However, stakeholders in the industry lack capability and understanding to adapt to environmental sustainability practices in construction. There are lack of guidelines for understanding and promoting sustainable construction, especially in developing countries. Therefore, the aim of this research was to develop a framework that will provide guidelines for contractors to build capacity for Environmentally Sustainable Construction (ESC) processes. Four theories; the Resilience, Ecological Modernization, Institutional and Social Network theories have been adopted to facilitate understanding of the complexities surrounding adaptation to ESC. Through face-to-face semi-structured interviews, qualitative data have been collected from large scale contractors in the country. The data have been analysed using data matrix and template thematic analysis techniques. Adopting an abductive approach, a back and forth iteration between findings and the theories have been applied to facilitate development of the framework. Contractors act within social-ecological system of the construction industry. The inability of these system actors to adapt to ESC is attributed to legislative, socio-cultural and other barriers. Improving knowledge of clients and other stakeholders in ESC processes would enable ESC adaptation. Formation of social network of contractors and collaboration with ‘non-contractor’ stakeholders are also primary to creation of drivers and enablers of ESC. Other frameworks developed for sustainable construction in developing and emerging economies do not provide stakeholder-specific guidelines for developing the needed capability to achieve sustainable construction. The framework developed in this research zeroes in on providing guidelines and strategies for contractors, as iv construction industry stakeholders, to achieve capability for adapting to ESC processes. The contribution of this research is that studies directed towards achieving sustainability in construction industry have been advanced through application of relevant multidisciplinary theories. The significance of this study is that, in line with the ‘Agenda 21 for Sustainable Construction in Developing Countries’ recommendation, guidelines for contractors to attain capability for sustainable construction have been provided. For successful implementation of the framework, it is recommended that the guidelines provided are to be integrated into a contractor’s organisational policy. ‘Establishing and enforcing’ governmental regulations on ESC is a key driver for bringing contractors’ adaptation to ESC into reality.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Building Technology, College of Art and Built Environment in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,