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Development of sustainable assessment criteria for building materials selection

Peter O. Akadiri (School of Technology, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Paul O. Olomolaiye (Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of West of England, Bristol, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 9 November 2012




Selection of sustainable building materials represents an important strategy in the design and construction of a building. A principal challenge therefore is the identification of assessment criteria based on the concepts and principles of sustainability, and the process of prioritizing and aggregating relevant criteria into an assessment framework. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to fill these gaps by describing the development stages of key assessment criteria used within an assessment tool under development for sustainable building material selection in the UK building industry.


After conducting a thorough and systematic literature review, a total of 24 sustainable assessment criteria (SAC) based on the triple bottom line and the need of building stakeholders were identified. A survey of UK architects and designers was conducted to capture their perceptions on the importance of the criteria. A total of 490 questionnaires were mailed out to participants for completion. An initial and follow‐up administration of the postal survey generated an overall response rate of 20.2 per cent. Factor analysis was utilized to group the criteria into assessment factors for modelling sustainability of building materials.


The result revealed that all criteria were considered important, with “aesthetics”, “maintainability” and “energy saving” the three top criteria considered for building materials selection. Factor analysis shows that these SACs can be aggregated into six factors namely: “environmental impacts”, “resource efficiency”, “waste minimization”, “life cycle cost”, “socio benefit”, and “performance capability”. Since these criteria were derived from the survey through expert opinion, consideration of these six criteria in material selection will ensure sustainability of building projects.

Research limitations/implications

The sampling method does not include other stakeholders, who in a way influence material selection, such as the client. The sample size may need to be extended to include more stakeholders involved in material selection in order to minimize sampling error. However, the importance of the study remains, for the limitations do not detract from them, but merely provide scope for further research.


The current study contributes to the building industry and sustainability research in at least two aspects. First it widens the understanding of selection criteria as well as their degree of importance. It also provides building stakeholders a new way to select materials, thereby facilitating the sustainability of building projects.



Akadiri, P.O. and Olomolaiye, P.O. (2012), "Development of sustainable assessment criteria for building materials selection", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 666-687.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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