NBS sustainability report reveals just a third of projects achieve sustainability goals

The report found that only a third of construction professionals usually manage to achieve delivering sustainable outcomes within a project.

The study, which polled 608 construction professionals, found that less people are achieving sustainability targets on projects, compared to those in its 2014 Sustainability Report.

Respondents were also quizzed on the number of projects that had received clear sustainability targets within the past year. 69% had worked on projects where sustainability goals had been included at least some of the time, whilst 25% had seen targets 'most of the time', the results showed. However, just 14% had seen targets set on every build.

With the government's 2050 net zero targets in-sight, just 4% of respondents said they had worked on exclusively net-zero projects and over half (51%) had not worked on a single net-zero project in the past year. 

As part of the study, NBS explored some of the barriers to achieving sustainability to find out how standards can be improved.

When identifying the main barriers to success, over half stated that a lack of client demand (52%) was the most common cause – just 1% more than the cost of achieving sustainability (51%). Another concern was the view that sustainable products are being 'value engineered' (38%), suggesting cost-cutting measures could rise question marks over quality. 37% also stated the lack of government policy and regulation was another reason for a lack of take up of sustainable practices.

When it came to responsibility and project roles, there were some differences of opinion depending on the audience.

For contractors, contractual risks were a main barrier to achieving sustainability. From a supplier standpoint, the study found they are more likely to view sustainable products as being 'value-engineered'. However, for clients, a lack of management commitment and a lack of sustainable performance information were marked as a major barrier, showing a further push from project designers and specifiers could increase the chances of sustainability being achieved on a build, NBS said.

The report also looked at indvidual responsibility as well as how the subject of sustainability is perceived from within organisations.

Nearly all (97%) respondents said that sustainability is either important or quite important to them personally. 81% of executive/leadership teams placed it as either important or quite important, while the organisations they work for as a whole (85%) revealed a strong appetite for more sustainable outcomes across the board.

Jenny Archer, Senior Research Executive, NBS who led the project, said: "It's been a while since we took a deep dive into the industry's experiences around sustainability and given the recent economic and environmental situation, these results have come at a good time.

"It's important to get a real understanding of how seriously sustainability is being taken within construction – once we identify the barriers to progress, we can start finding solutions. At NBS, this is our speciality – the findings from this report are extensive and will help us tailor our content to improve knowledge and education around sustainability in the coming months."

To access the full report, click here.

Tags (Specialism/Topics)

Sustainability Research