Potential and implications of sustainability action plans

Craig Thomson (Department of Construction and Surveying, School of Engineering and Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Mohamed El-Haram (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Publication date: 28 January 2014



Sustainability action plans are emerging as a management tool to facilitate the delivery of sustainability objectives which are planned, measured and achievable in practice. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential to support an integrated approach to delivering sustainability across the phases of a construction project. A holistic approach to sustainability is promoted which aims to be understandable, managed and aligned with available sustainability assessment methods.


The application of a sustainability action plan is explored in the Greater Middlehaven Regeneration Project (UK). Six key stakeholders were interviewed to consider the rational of its application, structure, role of sustainability assessment and contribution to project development and delivery. Two workshops involving practitioners and experts in sustainable construction explored the implications for the wider context.


A framework around which sustainability can be managed through a series of integrated tailored action plans applied across each project phase was highlighted. Clear benefits were presented in facilitating the sharing of knowledge, communicating aspirations and in providing leadership to project members.

Research limitations/implications

The case study enjoys a supportive environment to embed best practice and thus full appreciation of potential barriers to implementation in other contexts was not possible.

Practical implications

The research illustrates the need to promote a common sustainability legacy across the project phases and highlights the role of a sustainability action plan in facilitating this consistency.


A holistic approach founded on an understandable philosophy remains innovative in practice and explored are its value and implications.



Thomson, C. and El-Haram, M. (2014), "Potential and implications of sustainability action plans", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 108-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/BEPAM-11-2012-0053

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