Sustainable Development in the Construction Industry

Anyone familiar with large cities knows that construction is a constant. From restaurants and retail to healthcare facilities and factories, building projects are part of life. Then there are roads, rails, bridges, and tunnels, not to mention residential projects.

The construction industry is growing, creating higher-than-average demand for construction project managers. Smart cities and green buildings are an increasing part of this growth, which creates a need for construction project managers with the know-how to lead sustainable development.

If a career in sustainability sounds appealing, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be the way to get there. For example, the MBA in Construction Project Management online program from Lamar University combines business education with the knowledge and skills for achieving sustainability goals.

What Is Sustainable Development?

The climate crisis is driving sustainable development across every industry, including construction. From the natural resources used in building to the operation of heavy machinery, the construction industry seriously impacts the environment.

According to the World Green Building Council, the building sector is responsible for almost 40% of energy-related carbon emissions. Sustainable construction aims to reduce the negative impact of building projects.

Recovering building materials for use in new projects is one example. This practice conserves forest resources, which can help slow global warming. Other benefits include reducing landfill waste, which can lower project costs.

What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Development in Construction?

The United Nations identifies “sustainable cities and communities” as one of 17 global goals for sustainable development. Sustainable construction strategies are a key component of this.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) span three areas of focus: economic, environmental and social. The UN states that these goals “recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth — all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.”

Progress with one goal benefits others. Goal 11, for example, directly connects to the construction industry: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.” Advances with this goal also support SDGs that focus on:

  • ending poverty
  • securing access to safe water and sanitation
  • ensuring affordable and clean energy
  • supporting economic growth and “decent work for all,” such as for low-income residents of urban areas
  • facilitating sustainable industrialization
  • following best practices for the management of toxic chemicals
  • promoting sustainable production and consumption
  • protecting the world’s forests and biodiversity

As these interrelated goals show, sustainable construction has far-reaching economic, environmental and social benefits.

What Is the Future of Sustainable Construction?

Findings from various surveys support a growing commitment to sustainable construction. According to the 2020 World Green Building Trends Report, 42% of those surveyed expect that most of their building projects will qualify as “green” within the next three years, representing a 50% increase in that group.

Reasons for this encouraging trend include:

  • Lower operating costs
  • Reduced carbon emissions
  • Decreased water and energy usage
  • Market demand
  • Environmental regulations
  • Recognition of the importance of creating healthy buildings
  • Corporate commitments

While there are clear benefits of sustainable construction, there are also challenges. For example, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages delay building projects. Managing costs in sustainable design is another common concern. However, these challenges present opportunities for project managers who understand sustainability practices.

A career in project management is also likely to lead to above-average salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $98,890 for construction project managers, with the top 10% earning over $163,800.

Earning an MBA in Construction Project Management is a win-win. Graduates can take leadership roles in sustainable development that is good for people and the planet. In fact, the program curriculum includes a course titled Sustainable Practices in Construction that help students apply eco-friendly, sustainable practices to their work in the field.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online Master of Business Administration in Construction Project Management program.

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