Week 47 Sustainergies Cup NCC Student Update

The NCC case asks students to re-imagine the construction site and provide specific suggestions that positively impact local, environmental and social aspects. In order to begin thinking about solutions, we looked at some of the key drivers for sustainability within the industry where improvements can be made. We will discuss these briefly here. Each week, we will tackle another driver for sustainability and discuss our sustainable solutions.

Drivers for Sustainability – An Overview


Procurement of raw materials accounts for up to 70% of the costs associated with a construction project. There is a strong driver for material efficiency to reduce costs and lessen environmental impacts from sourcing raw materials. To this end, eco-efficiency may drive the construction industry to reduce costs by reducing waste. Further, the type of materials including structure, chemicals, location sourced, etc. all contribute to the environmental impacts.

Reduction of Waste

Construction and demolition make up 25-30% of all waste generated in the European Union with little of it recycled. Sourcing of materials and designing for disassembly reduce the amount of waste generated. Further, proper handling of waste is critical.


The customer often drives the project and can be either be private or public enterprise. NCC takes into account the desires and needs of the customer who may be motivated by altruistic reasons or primarily by price. The customer should be included in the design process and educated about the environmental and social benefits with design choices.


Health and safety legislation is key to sustainability in the construction industry. Control of dangerous or hazardous substances, as well as general risk mitigation is a main driver for removal of such substances altogether. Construction and demolition waste is the heaviest and most voluminous of all waste stream. It has been identified as a priority waste stream by the EU.


Sustainability initiatives often reduce costs by increasing resource efficiency, and decreasing operational costs. Strategic positioning amongst their competitors may drive firms to set new industry benchmarks. Business may preempt legislation through reduction of priority hazards.


Market competition may create a context where sustainability initiatives allow for differentiation amongst firms. Strategic positioning of other businesses may require firms to enhance their own sustainability to remain competitive on the market. Economic factors may affect the price of certain or all materials, thus encouraging firms to become material efficient and enhance their sustainability through eco-efficiency.

We’re looking forward to working together on this case and continuing to post our progress here!

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