The construction industry has been singled out as the focus of special attention, since creating and running our built environment accounts for about half of all energy used, has high potential to pollute rivers and ground, generate unacceptable noise and emission to the air, producing construction waste and debris, and damaging beyond repair our rich diversity and ecology. Although construction is re garded as an essential and highly visible contributor to the process of growth of one country, the adverse impacts to the environment lead to a growing realization and acceptance throughout the world that there is a need for a more responsible approach to the environment. The agenda for a more environmentally responsible construction industry is captured under the concept of sustainable construction. Delivering more sustainable construction requires action from all engaged in constructing and maintaining the built environment including those providing design, consulting, and construction services.
The advantages of building sustainably have been revealed through much research and case studies conducted abroad. In Malaysia, the active promotion of sustainable development by the government, non-governmental organizations, and education institutions in the past 5 years has shown some encouraging progress in this field such as a) more research and development in this field by non-governmental organization and education institution;
b) introduction of several guidelines for environmental protection (for different types of land/area) by government agencies;
c) increase in number of pioneer projects initiated by construction players (developers and contractors);
d) increase in number of seminars/symposiums/conferences which focus on improving the awareness of construction players on the issues related to sustainable construction and development.
A survey was conducted among construction developers in Malaysia focusing on their understanding on this subject matter and whether they have incorporated this knowledge within their current and past projects. From the survey, it is concluded that a) There is a slow permeation of this concept among the construction practitioners. Many construction developers believed that the implementation of this concept is at low level. Factors that have been identified as impeding the active implementation are lack of knowledge, poor enforcement of legislation, education vs. experience, and passive culture.
b) It is believed that with current pace, this situation will not change much in 5 years. This is due to the lack of enforcement on existing legislation, budget constraints, and lack of awareness. But there is a glimpse of hope as several respondents argued that once the knowledge and awareness are raised, the situation will gradually be improved.
This research has unveiled the level of knowledge among developers with regard to sustainable construction. The positive moves by the government and non-governmental agencies to raise the awareness of environmental issues among construction players and to encourage the interest to pursue sustainability in the construction projects do bear some fruit as the knowledge among developers is within moderate level, with a few respondents admitted to have good and excellent knowledge of sustainability concept (none is very poor). The implementation, however, is between poor and moderate. It is expected that this situation is most likely to remain the same, if not slightly better, in the next 5 years. With this finding, the government, non-governmental agencies, and professional bodies need to step up their momentum to ensure that the awareness of sustainable construction is not only raised but also implemented. More strategies and actions should be pursued actively to speed up the process in creating a sustainable-oriented construction industry. By effective implementation, this concept will become a norm and perhaps, the 5-year prediction will shift from moderate to good or excellent. Only then, the advantages of sustainable practices can be firmly seized and enjoyed by everyone, construction players and end users alike.
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