Constructing Corporate Social Responsibility: Pathways to Sustainable Construction?

By Keri Chiveralls, Jian Zuo, Lou Wilson, George Zillante and Stephen Pullen.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The construction industry is a significant contributor to Australia’s levels of waste production and energy consumption. In 2006–2007, a total of 43.8 million tonnes of waste were generated in Australia and the construction and demolition sector accounted for 38 per cent of this (ABS 2010). Approximately 43 per cent of construction and demolition waste was disposed to landfill (ibid). It has been argued that construction and post-construction activities consume up to 50 per cent of all resources globally, 45 per cent of all energy generated to heat light and ventilate buildings (and an additional 5 per cent during construction) (Van Wyk and Chege 2004). As such, the industry is well-positioned to make a significant contribution to reducing national emissions and tackling industry contributions to climate change. However, the industry has been accused of being ‘socially irresponsible’ and compared with other industries, the building and construction industry is lagging behind in embracing the new paradigms of environmental sustainability (Fraser 2007). A survey of the top 100 companies in 2003 found that, in terms of environmental and sustainability accounting, the construction and building materials sector was one of the worst performers (KPMG International 2003). This paper reports on the results of a series of interviews with industry leaders, which explored industry perceptions of corporate social responsibility, and how the concept was understood in relation to environmental sustainability in the South Australian construction industry.

Keywords: Construction, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Industry, Australia

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.1-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1000.479KB).

Dr. Keri Chiveralls

Research Fellow, School of Natural and Built Environs, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Keri Chiveralls completed her Ph.D. in Social Inquiry/Anthropology at the University of Adelaide in 2008. Since then she has worked as a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute for Social Research at the University of Adelaide. She is now based at the University of South Australia where she is engaged as a Research Fellow on the project “Reconsidering Sustainable Building and Design: A Cultural Change Approach”.

Dr. Jian Zuo

Lecturer, School of Natural and Built Environment, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Jian Zuo is a lecturer at the University of South Australia. His main research interests relate to achieving low carbon built environment by means of innovation and behavioural changes.

Dr. Lou Wilson

Lecturer in Urban & Regional Planning (Social Planning), School of Natural and Built Environment, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

‘I am an urban sociologist at the University of South Australia and lecture in social policy and urban planning. I have research interests in corporate social responsibility, sustainable communities, social inclusion, social cohesion and social capital. I am part of a research team that is developing a model to understand and address tensions between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of urban development and the implications for assessing development in urban areas. I also currently engaged in research into sustainable building design.’

Dr. George Zillante

Head of Construction & Project Management (CPM), Natural & Built Environments (NBE), University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

George Zillante is Head of Construction & Project management at UniSA. He has qualifications in Architecture, Urban & Regional Planning, Building Surveying, Business Administration and Construction and has worked (and continues to work) at the professional level in those fields.

Dr. Stephen Pullen

Senior Lecturer, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Stephen Pullen started his career as a materials scientist in the UK carrying out research and development into new construction materials and processes. He took up a position as a materials consultant at the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories in Adelaide in 1985 and was involved in the performance and testing of materials including forensic investigations linked to the construction industry. In 1990 he joined the University of South Australia lecturing in building science and materials. Since that time, he has been the program director for the undergraduate degree program in Construction Management & Economics and the postgraduate programs in Facilities & Asset Management. Stephen is currently involved in a number of research initiatives including the ARC Linkage projects known as “An Integrated Model for the Assessment of Urban Sustainability” and “Re-considering Sustainable Building and Design: A Cultural Change Approach”.

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