Soft cost elements: Exploring management components of project costs in green building projects

Nazirah Zainul Abidin*, Zahirah Mokhtar Azizi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reveals the non-technical elements that affect construction project costs, known as soft cost elements (SCEs). These elusive elements have received little attention although they are significant in influencing man- agement decisions of a project. There is much interest in the mitigation of cost for green projects, but the focus is generally leaning towards hard cost aspects. Information about SCEs remains obscure. Qualitative approach is adopted in this research using face-to-face unstructured interviews with 12 respondents consisting of green building project experts who have been involved in many projects certified by the Malaysia Green Building Index (GBI). A total of 4 project cost datasheets were also analysed to confirm the SCEs in the project budget and to enable a clear definition of the SCEs term. The results show that SCEs are tangible and not hidden in nature. Although they constitute smaller percentage in the project cost, the implications of SCEs are far-reaching and can influence critical management decisions. There are 8 SCEs identified which are divided into 3 main categories: 1) Design Influence (project brief preparation, consultant fees and green certification); 2) Authority Requirement (pre-development charges and contribution charges); and 3) Development Provision (marketing, project over- heads and security of funding). This study is practical and relevant for both green and conventional construction project, with an additional of ‘green certification’ element for green projects. The paper provides new insight into the understated elements that drive project cost from a managerial perspective and indicates key areas for future studies on project cost.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106545
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Early online date7 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


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