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Brennan, M C E (2015) Sustainable construction in the 21st century: an educational perspective to shifting the paradigm, Unpublished PhD Thesis, School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment, Liverpool John Moores University.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: education; government; higher education; leadership; legislation; sustainable construction; sustainable development
  • ISBN/ISSN:
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.24377/LJMU.t.00004532
  • Abstract:
    Sustainability is a ubiquitous topic debated across the globe. The potential of the construction industry to alleviate the effects of environmental damage whilst contributing to the social and economic dimension of sustainability are great. Despite many efforts by both Government and Higher Education Institutions, the adoption of sustainable construction practices is well below where it needs to be. Much work needs to be done in reprogramming the minds of those in an economically facing industry to ensure a sustainable future. This research looks at the efficacy of an educational intervention for such change and the use of psychological variables in assisting the process. This thesis contributes to original knowledge through the development of a validated measurement tool designed to measure attitudes towards sustainable development in a construction context. The tool was used to investigate associations between attitudes and psychological constructs. The research makes a further contribution through the development of an educational intervention which supports the use of alternative pedagogies for sustainability education. The research was conducted in four phases, with phases one and three making the contribution to knowledge. A concurrent mixed methodology approach was adopted utilising an embedded design. Quantitative data was collected in phase one with this phase running concurrently alongside the other phases throughout the project. Qualitative data was collected in phases two and four with phase three adopting a mixed model approach. The conclusions drawn from phase one were that there are associations between emotional self-efficacy and positive attitudes towards sustainability but not with optimism. Phase two highlighted that changes in attitudes towards sustainability would need to be driven through, legislation, education and leadership. This resulted in the development of an intervention with students at LJMU based on principles of student-centred learning. Analysis of the student feedback indicated that the intervention had a positive impact on students with perceptions changing as to how important sustainability is and how important the construction industry is for this to be achieved. The intervention tool developed within this research has the potential to be adapted for use with a wide variety of audiences, in particular those in positions of high level decision making. A top-down and a bottom-up approach is recommended if we are to achieve the aspiration of a sustainable future.