Learning Sustainable Construction

Investigating a suitable learning environment to advance sustainable practices among micro construction enterprises


Presented at the 28th Annual ARCOM Conference, 3-5 September 2012, Edinburgh, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management.

Authors: Michael P Gleeson1 and Craig S Thomson2

School of Engineering and Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, G4 OBA, UK


Sustainability in the construction industry is increasingly at the forefront of current debate and government policy. The majority of sustainable strategies and research has focused on large contracting organisations with little attention given to Micro Construction  Enterprises  (McE’s).  With  McE’s  comprising  of  98%  of  all  UK   construction firms they clearly contribute significantly to the delivery of sustainability.

There is little understanding  of  the  unique  challenges  McE’s  face  in   learning  and  knowledge  acquisition  to  advance  sustainable  practices.  McE’s  are  a   diverse group of professional practices, specialist trades and general builders and it is doubtful they are well equipped to support the learning culture necessary to appreciate the current myriad of sustainability issues. This research explores the requirements for a suitable learning environment for McE’s to advance sustainable practices.

Through semi-structured interviews with eight owner/associates  of  different  types  of  McE’s  in   Glasgow, the research explored their preferences for learning in order to establish the basis for a suitable learning environment. Formal methods of learning like seminars and CPD events entail prohibitive cost and resource barriers, but analysis suggested that these constraints could be appeased by facilitating voluntary informal learning pathways in order to progress the agenda.

Since the majority of the study participants were members of some trade or professional association it is recommended that these bodies are best placed to deliver contextually relevant resources in a suitable narrative for  McE’s.

The  paper  attempts  to  differentiate  between  formal  and  informal  learning   styles to promote sustainable practices among McE’s. Keywords: knowledge, learning, micro construction enterprise, practice, sustainable construction.

ARCOM Conference Paper 2012 Gleeson_Thomson


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