Development of a capability maturity model for sustainable construction

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Increasing public awareness on the environmental and social growth has promoted the application of sustainable development in construction. The triple bottom line, namely economy, society and environment is generally recognised as significant dimensions for measuring the performance of sustainability. However, most research often puts their focus on environmental issues, rather than the whole sustainability concept. The implementation of sustainable construction also differs greatly from one practice to another, since its definition and principles are still highly debatable. Additionally, it appears that various standards and certifications in the market do not embrace three pillars – environmental, social and economic sustainability in their assessments either. To incorporate the best value of sustainable construction, it is crucial to determine the gap between stakeholders’ expectations and actual deliverables of sustainable construction. Therefore, this research aims to explore and determine the maturity status of sustainable development implementation in the current construction industry. The Sustainable Construction Maturity Model (SCMM) is developed to assist construction stakeholders in gaining a richer understanding on the practices of sustainable construction. Pilot interviews were conducted to determine the appropriateness of research methods as well as to validate the SCMM. The research employed in-depth interviews and case studies as principal research methods to develop deeper insights of the development of sustainable construction, by triangulating data sources. A supplement questionnaire survey was also used to have a meta-analysis on the results obtained. The empirical evidence implies that sustainable construction could be practised at two extremes – exceptionally high and low maturity, regardless of sectors. This large gap suggests that the development of sustainable construction are rather diverged and fragmented in the industry. Although social and economic sustainability may not be absolutely excluded, current sustainable practices tend to put more effort on environmental sustainability. A loss of balance in achieving the three pillars may undermine the full potential of realising sustainable construction. Additionally, the research also found that good coordination between stakeholders is required not only during the design and construction stages but also in the post occupancy stage. Building a good sustainability culture could always bring more significant implications on the maturity status of sustainable construction, rather than the built-in high technology facilities in the built environment. To transform the built environment into a holistic sustainable development world, striking a balance of the triple bottom line is required. This research can steer the construction community to improve their performance in attaining the goals of sustainable construction. The SCMM can also provide an objective and consistent assessment tool to manage sustainable capability and capacity and to position the current performance level. By having a better understanding of the overall development of sustainable construction, practitioners can shape their future directions and strategies better and, in turn move sustainability performance in construction to a higher level of maturity. Since sustainable construction emphasises long terms development, continual efforts shall be made to achieve sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Award date17 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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