Achieving Social and Economic Sustainability Impacts Through Construction

Sustainable development can be described in terms of approaches that reduce negative environmental impacts while creating beneficial social and economic impacts.

While there has been extensive research on the negative environmental impacts of construction, less work has been done on the social and economic benefits that can be generated.

In countries with high levels of unemployment and inequality, like South Africa, it is important to understand how beneficial impacts can be created to respond to local challenges.

I have been working on a book chapter on achieving economic and social sustainability impacts through construction. It shows that while considerable work has been carried out on the development of sustainable construction targets such as those related to labour-intensive construction this has not been consolidated into a framework or integrated into practice through sustainable construction, procurement or rating systems.

Sustainable construction principles and targets are therefore assembled that can be used to guide approaches that can create beneficial social and economic impacts through construction. The chapter outlines how targets can be set and achieved through structured processes that include increased awareness, capacity development, proactive planning, target setting, procurement and support. Approaches are illustrated through examples and discussed. 

The chapter will be of interest to government officials, developers, contractors, researchers and built environment professionals wishing to understand how beneficial social and economic impacts can be created through construction.