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Fair wage potential as a tool for social assessment in building projects

Paulo Cezar Vitorio Junior (Department of Civil Construction, UTFPR, Pato Branco, Brazil) (Graduate Program in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Passo Fundo, Passo Fundo, Brazil)
Moacir Kripka (Graduate Program in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Passo Fundo, Passo Fundo, Brazil)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 19 August 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2021




The fair wage potential (FWP) is a social assessment method that can serve as an important measure to estimate the related social impacts along a product's life cycle; however, it does not admit a direct relation to the functional unit. This research presents the weighted fair wage potential (WFWP) method that relates the functional unit to the FWP. It is a simplified method to connect the material inventory to social data. This study aims to develop an approach to assess and choose the best construction typology for buildings based on the social sustainability of workers involved in the sectors.


The study is presented in phases. Phase 1 selected and identified two Brazilian house projects, which were considered for the following processes: extraction of raw materials, manufacture of building materials and housing construction. Phase 2 assembled the social life cycle inventories and executed them using the social life cycle assessment (SLCA). The inventory of materials followed the functional unit: “1.0 m² of the built housing”, and the social inventory observed data extracted from the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD). The study considered the stakeholder category “worker” and analysed the impact subcategory “fair salary”. The study also divided the social data into categories: worker gender, worker race/colour, worker union and worker formality to analyse the impact of subcategories: “equal opportunities/discrimination”, “freedom of association and collective bargaining” and “social benefits/social security”. Phase 3 compared the projects according to the results from the SLCA. The FWP considers the wage paid at supply chain sectors, and the WFWP relates the functional unit to the social data.


The results proved that the wages paid by the construction supply chain are fair. However, there are differences between the FWP of male and female workers, white and non-white workers, unionised and non-unionised workers and formal and informal workers. The study of the actual Brazilian minimum wage indicated that the FWP is sensitive to the reference wage to which the analysed wages paid are related. Considering the WFWP, the constructive typology employed in Project B can generate increased positive social impacts than Project A. The proposed study provides excellent results, and it can be adapted to different data to assess the social conditions of other countries and sectors.

Research limitations/implications

There is not enough primary data available for the variables real wages and real working time; for this reason, these variables received secondary data. Another limitation is the data used for the year range, since Brazilian microdata do not include years before 2002 and years beyond 2015.


The WFWP differs from the existing social sustainability studies because it relates the material information to social data; also, it defines the best option among the analysed alternatives, taking into consideration social sustainability, which enables the project design to go beyond technical aspects. The constructive typology and materials take into account the social sustainability of the construction supply chain, generating more sustainable projects and improving the circumstances of affected stakeholders.



Vitorio Junior, P.C. and Kripka, M. (2021), "Fair wage potential as a tool for social assessment in building projects", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 1295-1318.



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