Sustainability awareness and practices in the Zambian construction industry
The construction industry makes a significant contribution to the global green-house gas emission. It is, therefore, critical that construction industry professionals should be aware of and practise sustainable construction. However, there is a paucity of studies on the awareness of sustainability and their practices in developing countries, with some results seemingly contradicting. This article explored the awareness and practices of sustainability in the Zambian construction industry. Data was collected from construction industry professionals through a questionnaire survey and a total of 112 responses were received. The relative importance index (RII) and a series of linear regression analyses were used to analyse the data. The participants’ perception of sustainability was primarily enviro-centric as opposed to the economic or social context. However, social and economic sustainability practices ranked highest, while environmental sustainability practices ranked in the bottom five of the 16 practices. While the participants perceived the environmental context as more critical in their understanding of sustainability, their practice reflected a focus on the social and economic sustainability context. The findings imply that merely increasing the level of knowledge and awareness of environmental sustainability may not lead to gross improvements in environmental sustainability practices. Therefore, studies that recommended increasing knowledge and awareness, in order to increase the implementation of environmentally sustainable construction, may have neglected the effect of the other barriers to sustainable construction which may be more critical. Studies with multivariate analyses such as structural equation modelling are needed to establish the contributory effect of the various barriers to environmental sustainability practices and so establish the extent to which knowledge and awareness alone, and other factors, can improve environmental sustainability practices.
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