Achieving sustainable construction through procurement in the Ghanaian Construction Industry

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Sustainable construction (SC) is one of the subsets of sustainable development and seeks to achieve social, economic and environmental equilibrium in the procurement of built assets. The benefits that ensue from sustainable construction are of significant value to current and future generations alike. Nonetheless, there is a lack of understanding and application of the concept in the Ghanaian construction sector. This phenomenon has resulted in little attention being given to SC and the benefits thereof. Given that the acquisition of a built asset is through a chain of procurement activities, it becomes important to initiate this process so that SC becomes a demand driven approach to the realisation of SC goal. Hence, this research aims at exploring means of achieving sustainable construction along the procurement route in the Ghanaian construction industry. The research process began with a review of mainstream publications on the subject to gain a broad insight and a sound understanding in addressing sustainable construction and also to glean secondary data. Questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews were used to collect and validate primary data respectively from 172 professionals in construction procurement for the study. Analysis of the results yielded a set of 12 sustainability factors that included the integration of sustainability requirements into contract briefs, specifications, conditions and in the tendering procedures; the need for contractors and supplies to demonstrate the capacity, innovation and commitment to deliver sustainable project and the provision of records of successfully completed sustainable project. Furthermore, sets of criteria for assessing sustainable construction comprising 10 environmental assessment criteria, 7 economic assessment criteria and 10 social assessment criteria resulted from the study. Finally the analysis also led to the development of 12 sets of factors that outline the role of procuring entities in the pursuit of SC goals among which are the need for training, knowledge sharing and understanding of sustainability issues among procurement decision makers; incorporation of sustainability issues in procurement decision making; the need for clear policies and guidelines regarding the application of sustainability principles in the procurement of infrastructure and to conduct reviews to monitor the delivery of sustainability requirements throughout the project life cycle . Recommendations provided for the advancement of SC include training on sustainability issues, the need to emphasise sustainability at all stages throughout the procurement process and a proposed framework for implementing, monitoring and evaluating sustainable construction along the procurement route.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Philosophy in Procurement Management, 2015