Date of Award

8-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Klotz, Leidy E

Committee Member

Aziz , Nadim M

Committee Member

Bausman , Dennis

Committee Member

Chowdhury , Mashrur

Committee Member

Robinson , Kenneth L

Abstract

With increased awareness of issues such as global resource shortages and climate change, sustainability efforts are becoming more common in the construction industry. While these efforts often consider economic and environmental factors, a truly sustainable construction project also needs to include such social considerations as its impact on the surrounding community and the safety, health, and education of the workforce. For the construction industry, social sustainability requires integrating processes for improving safety, health and well-being over the project life cycle. However, an empirical and comprehensive framework defining these social sustainability processes in construction projects has yet to be clearly delineated.
To address this need, this study identifies these processes and categorizes them into a framework for integrating and evaluating social considerations in construction projects. These processes focus on the planning and design phases because they offer the greatest potential for influencing project performance. A concept mapping research method was applied to identify and categorize social sustainability processes based on the input of 25 experts from academia, industry and government. These experts contributed to process identification and then clustered and rated the processes based on similarity and importance, respectively. Multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analysis was applied to organize the experts' input into six categories defining social sustainability in construction projects: Stakeholder Engagement, User Considerations, Team Formation, Management Considerations, Impact Assessment, and Place Context.
The primary contribution of this research to the knowledge in the field is the expert-based social sustainability framework. Practitioners can benefit from the framework, which will enhance existing sustainability assessment methods and help address the challenge of developing truly sustainable projects. This framework also provides educators with a tool to teach students about social sustainability for construction projects. While this research advances understanding of social sustainability for construction projects, the framework was not validated for every type of construction project and construction project stakeholder. Given the differences between construction projects and between stakeholder perspectives, future research to validate the framework with other expert groups would be useful. In addition, future research suggested by this project could include the development of metrics based on the processes included in the framework. Beyond the framework itself, a secondary contribution to the field is the method for applying the concept mapping research method in the construction industry.

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