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A critical reflection on sustainability within the UK industrial sectors

Suresh Renukappa (School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Charles Egbu (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Akintola Akintoye (School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Jack Goulding (School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 6 July 2012

Abstract

Purpose

In the early part of the twenty‐first century, the term sustainability has become a buzzword. Although featuring strongly in the popular media, trade, professional and academic journals, the very concept of sustainability is elusive for businesses. There is, however, a little empirical research on the perceptions of the UK industrial sectors on the concept of sustainability – which is the core raison d'être of this paper. The purpose of this paper is to capture the general perceptions of the UK industrial sectors on the concept of sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The aim of this paper is to capture the general perceptions of the UK industrial sectors on the concept of sustainability using a qualitative approach. Four industry sectors: energy and utility, transportation, construction and not‐for‐profit organisations (NPOs) were considered based on the environmental, social and economic impact on the UK society. Semi‐structured interviews were used to collect industry perception which was then analysed using content analysis for inference and conclusion.

Findings

The data analysis revealed that the perceptions of the UK industrial sectors on the concept of sustainability vary significantly across the four industry sectors. Four core categories were identified: environmental, economic, corporate social responsibility and triple bottom line dimension.

Practical implications

The paper concludes that the concept of sustainability is multifaceted and diverse. Although the importance of sustainability is broadly acknowledged across the four industry sectors, there is a significant lack of a common and operationalised understanding on the concept of sustainability. Therefore, it is recommended that there is an urgent need to develop and deploy an industry‐wide awareness‐raising programme on the concept of sustainability.

Originality/value

The paper provides a richer insight into the understanding and awareness of the meaning of sustainability at a conceptual level.

Keywords

Citation

Renukappa, S., Egbu, C., Akintoye, A. and Goulding, J. (2012), "A critical reflection on sustainability within the UK industrial sectors", Construction Innovation, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 317-334. https://doi.org/10.1108/14714171211244578

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited