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Barriers to the use of sustainable materials in Australian building projects

Sheetal Gounder (University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Abid Hasan (School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Asheem Shrestha (School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Abbas Elmualim (University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 14 October 2021

Issue publication date: 27 February 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Although the adverse effects of construction activities on the environment and the need for sustainable construction practices are recognised in both research and practice, any significant shift in the selection and use of construction materials from the sustainability perspective has not taken place in many building projects. Still, conventional construction materials are widely used in building projects in both developed and developing countries. This study attempts to identify the main barriers to the use of sustainable materials in building projects in an advanced economy such as Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a questionnaire survey approach to examine the main reasons behind the low usage of sustainable materials in building projects. Based on the relative importance index, exploratory factor analysis and multinomial logistic regression analysis, the study examined the main barrier measures and barrier factors to the use of sustainable materials in building projects.

Findings

The findings reveal that critical barriers to the use of sustainable materials are related to cost and profit considerations, the unwillingness of the key stakeholders to incorporate these materials into building projects, lack of incentives and government policies. The factor analysis reduced the critical barrier measures into three factors: techno-economic considerations, cost and delay concerns and resistance to use. Furthermore, multinomial regression analysis based on the extracted factors identified techno-economic considerations as the main barrier factor to the use of sustainable materials in building projects.

Practical implications

The empirical results of this research can inform construction practitioners, organisations and policymakers on how to increase the use of sustainable building materials in the construction industry.

Originality/value

Identification of barriers to the use of sustainable building materials is a prerequisite to improve their uptake and use in the construction industry. The study fills a gap in the existing research on the use of sustainable materials in building projects in Australia.

Keywords

Citation

Gounder, S., Hasan, A., Shrestha, A. and Elmualim, A. (2023), "Barriers to the use of sustainable materials in Australian building projects", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 189-209. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-10-2020-0854

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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