Quality Assurance in Construction as a Sustainability Approach


By Dr. Mohamed Saad Atwa

Al-Azhar University

Cairo, Egypt


The purpose of Quality management is to provide a common focus for all employees, so that individuals with different tasks, abilities and priorities are able to communicate in pursuit of a common organizational goal (Wilkinson, 1992). Typically, this focus is upon providing quality management. Environmentally sustainable building construction has experienced significant growth during the past 10 years. In today’s world, the definition of quality has been extended to more comprehensive level, which also comprises sustainable performance. The paper systematically builds an integrated model that includes quality as well as sustainable performance of the built environment and accompanying construction processes. This model for the “Quality Assurance in Construction as a Sustainability Approach” presents a three-level arrangement, namely: the structure, process/ project, and construction product, the built environment’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions and natural resource consumption. Other factors, including higher energy prices, increased costs of building materials, and regulatory incentives, are also pushing the green building market to grow and expand. The management philosophy of Edwards Deming is teaching managers to look more closely at how they affect all of the outcomes that their workers produce systems thinking, the concept of variation, psychology and the theory of knowledge. However, barriers to green building continue to exist, including the ability to deliver a green project within acceptable cost constraints. In order for project managers to deliver sustainable construction according to clients’ cost expectations, modifications must be made to traditional project management processes and practices. The objective of this paper is to suggest specific modifications to conventional building practices to optimize the delivery of cost-efficient green building projects. This paper presents an overview of research related to the costs and trends of green building and uses these research findings to make recommendations for greening project management practices for the construction industry. Our research results show that greening project management practices can add significant value to a sustainable construction project while delivering it within acceptable cost constraints.

Keywords: Construction Management, Quality Assurance, Energy Savings


The design and construction of a building differs significantly in many ways from the design and manufacture of products. It is important to appreciate some essential differences with regard to quality in building (Griffith, 1990). Almost all construction projects are ‘unique’ with the building process representing a single production run. The construction site is “individual” in terms of its temporary environment the life cycle of a construction project, from inception to completion, extends beyond the manufacturing cycle and also tends to evolve and develop through time.

Considerable mobility of design and construction staff precludes the development of long-term production teams and each construction site is likely to have different team members.

Today’s most widely accepted definition of quality proposed by Crosby (1979) as “conformance to requirements” is also incorporated into the present standard dealing with quality ISO 9001 (2008). However, the concept of quality in construction is rather involved, because it demands the fulfillment of both explicit and implicit requirements/needs, and it needs to be assessed from the viewpoint of the product (structure) or the process (construction project). In addition, one should be aware that quality has a multidisciplinary nature; therefore, different approaches may be required for its analysis and treatment.

To assess quality for the whole structure, the basic requirements defined already by (function, structure/durability, and aesthetics) (OGorman 1998) have to be fulfilled. In addition to these requirements, various stakeholders may have additional ones. Here, it should be kept in mind that a structure is used for a longer period of time, and that there is a great probability that these requirements may be changed over time, especially during the operation and maintenance stage. Conformance to the specified requirements for the structure is ensured by

  • designing the structure in accordance to appropriate rules (EN Eurocodes 2010);
  • using construction products (that are permanently built in the structure during the construction process) that conform to the relevant specifications (Council Directive 89/106 1989);
  • Proper execution of construction work conforming to relevant standards.

The growing awareness of sustainable construction’s potential to positively impact environmental issues is pushing green building to the forefront. As a result, more local governments are adopting green building standards and regulations or providing permitting and financial incentives for sustainable development. Research data show dramatic increases in the number of development projects seeking environmental certification, indicating that the demand for green construction is also on the rise (U.S. Green Building Council 2006a,b),

After presenting an overview of green building construction, we provide an extensive review of literature, case studies, and research to prove that cost is the most significant constraint when building green. We then analyze how modifying traditional project management practices can contain the risk of inflated costs associated with green building. These results are summarized in a matrix showing where in the project management life cycle adjustments must be made in order to deliver a successful green building project. Further, we highlight specific green management practices, with detailed information for implementation.


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About the Author

Dr. Mohamed Saad Atwa

Al Azhar University
Cairo, Egypt


Dr Mohamed Saad Atwa
is an associate professor in architectural engineering in Al Azhar University, holds a Ph.D. degree from Department of Construction Science, Collage of Architectural Engineering, Texas A&M University (USA) Dissertation Title: “Quality Assurance in Supervision of Building Construction”, and has many researches in Architectural Engineering, Quality management in construction industry, Quality systems in Building Construction, Safety & health system in Building Construction and Project construction management. He can be contacted at msatwa@hotmail.com