Sustainability In Building Development: Key Considerations And Practices

Triple Bottom Line (TBL)

Sustainability can be described as a term which emphasises on the carrying out of the activities by putting pressure on the natural resources and without making harmful impacts on nature. Sustainability within the context of the building developments is a complex and a vast subject which needs to be considered at the early stage because it impacts the environment significantly. Once it is decided that a new building is to be built, contractors and the designers through their resource planning can reduce the consumption of the natural resources. Clients already have an environmental policy and it emphasises on the sustainability vision along with the detailed targets and the objectives. There are standards that are imposed by the funders and it includes the planning legislation (this may include the need to conduct an environmental impact assessment), building legislation (Bell and Morse 2012). The operation of building construction includes the evaluation, feedback, pollution, ecology and landscape, durability, flexibility, waste management, resource management, maintenance, water management, energy use and energy source. While the disposal includes the pollution from the hazardous materials, landscape ecology, recycling, reuse, resale, demolition and dismantling. The environmental plan includes the establishment of procedures for updating and revision, the establishment of procedures for reporting and monitoring, the establishment of procedures training and communication, the establishment of the risks and mitigation of the same, setting the standards and adhering to the same, setting measurable and specific targets (Kibert 2016). While environmental planning requires the proper policing of the whole project. Buildings that are environmentally sustainable involves the sustainable construction and design and at the same time, the building is made up of the sustainable materials that are appropriate to the location itself. Successful environmental building design involves a close and appropriate cooperation between the contractors, consultant and designers, clients at all the times. However, it has been seen that the construction programs cause environmental programs that that ranges from an excessive utilization of the natural resources and the pollution of the surrounding environment. Environmental assessment of the buildings is the most when they are assessed during their pre-design status and subsequently, they are integrated into the design process (Ching 2014). Within the design process, the environmental issues are integrated so that they minimise the environmental damages caused by the improper construction of the buildings. The best way of achieving sustainability is to incorporate the environmental issues at the beginning of the design process and before the design is conceptualised. It is thus important to separate the building design and the project design so that the outcomes of the process do not impact the environment (Sorvig and Thompson 2018). This study will be based on the reviewing the general concepts of sustainable development, and triple bottom lines; discussion on the concepts of the sustainable construction, key considerations in the sustainable construction; preparation of the sustainability report on a hypothetical multinational construction company including the introduction of the  hypothetical company, strategy and analysis, organizational profile, reporting parameters, engagement, commitments and governance, management approach; at the end there will also be a final discussion on the issues and the challenges in the reporting sustainability.

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Sustainable Development

Triple Bottom Line (TBL)- Triple bottom line can be described as the concept that broadens up the focus of the business on the bottom line of the finances of a business and it includes the environmental and the social considerations. The TBL measures a company’s degree in terms of the environmental impact, economic value and social responsibility. In the year 1994, this concept was introduced by John Elkington in a book called the Cannibals with Forks (Elkington 2013). It has been highlighted that the one faces difficulty in measuring the environmental and the social bottom lines, and due to this reason the three aspects are measured and evaluated differently based on their merits. The main difference between the TBL and the other traditional reporting frameworks is that they exclude the idea of social and the ecological aspects that are difficult to measure. While the main idea here is that if one sector is improved then automatically the other sectors will improve as it is. The three main pillars of TBL is Profit, planet and people (Govindan, Khodaverdi and Jafarian 2013).

Sustainable development- Sustainable development can be defined as a development strategy that meets the needs of the present generation, while not compromising or overlooking the needs of the future generations. The sustainable development and its modern concepts are taken from the Brundtland report of 1987. This report is based on the earlier ideas of the sustainable forest management along with the environmental concerns of the 20th century. this concept, later on, shifted its focus towards the environmental protection, social development, and economic development of the future generations. The term sustainability is an equilibrium between the ecosystem and the humans. While the term sustainable development is both a temporal process and a holistic approach towards the sustainability. The three domains of sustainable development our society, economy and environment. The three domains of sustainable development were initially proposed in the year 1979 by Rene Passet. While it has also been expanded by other authors that it can also include the culture, politics, economics, ecology- social (Le Blanc 2015).

The Triple Bottom Line incorporates a corporate strategy and it asks few questions like how the sustainability will be measured; how to make the sustainability to work for the business; how sustainability will be defined within the corporation;

The TBL includes the vital systems that assess the profits that are made through the corporate sustainability solutions. The three basic domains within which Triple Bottom Line acts are all based on the sustainable development. Thus, this whole process encompasses the environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and the social sustainability (Milne and Gray 2013).

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Economic sustainability

Economic sustainability- Within the aspects of TBL, economic sustainability not only considers of the traditional corporate capital but also of the economic capital. The TBL is measured in terms of how much the business is impacting its economic environment. It is a known fact that businesses that will achieve success in the future will also contribute positively to the economic health of the support community, support network. TBL considers the following:

  • The material chosen is either good or bad for the economic investment; buying cheaper products, on the other hand, creates issues in other areas or areas.
  • The employees are paid sufficiently to stimulate spending and growth and its compensation policy does not shrink the local economy.
  • The local business helps the local suppliers to stay within the local business and innovate at the same time (Gimenez, Sierra and Rodon 2012).

Environmental sustainability- The TBL considers the approach of sustainability and highlights the small impacts that the business activity has on the environment when the natural resources are utilized. Thus, it is derived that sustainable business practices make a business more successful. Managing and controlling the environmental bottom involves the reporting, monitoring and managing of the resource consumption, generation of wastes and the rates of emissions. The sustainable business models make the green policies and the waste reduction techniques available at all level of management. Reporting and managing of the environmental bottom lines depend on the scale of the business. Reporting of the environmental TBL includes greenhouse gas emissions and the total emission of the nitrogen oxides and the sulphur oxides; water withdrawn from the local resources; the total amount of the materials that are recycled; renewable energy consumption and the energy usage and it includes both the indirect and the direct channels (Savitz 2013).

Social responsibility- The social bottom line measures the position within the society, business profits existing within the human capital. By the means of the corporate community, involvement organizations improve their social bottom lines and the labour practices. This can even be measured through the way social sustainability impacts the local economy. Corporate social responsibility is one such aspect that emphasises on the community health and the local economic stability by building initiatives that help in the sustainability of the region or the community. It is important to highlight that the positive relationships between the community and the business help in increasing the client base and pool of the employees increase gradually (Nikolaou, Evangelinos and Allan 2013).

The sustainable development explained in terms of benchmarking, measurability and accountability.

Benchmarking- organizations can improve their performance only through the procedures of benchmarking. Benchmarking helps the organizations to keep a track on the previous year’s performance and make a comparison with the present year performance. Such benchmarking is only possible by following a sustainable performance indicator. A company can use their performance to assess the whether their choice of the method can be fruitful in yielding the desired results. increasing the productivity, elevating the quality of water and reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions are some of the measures that can be employed by an organization (Assaf, Josiassen and Cvelbar 2012).

Environmental sustainability

Measurability- sustainable atmosphere can only be created when the sustainable performance is measured with the proper usage of the environmental, economic and the social indicators. Various tools are used for the assessment and they include the economic indicators, social indicators and the environmental indicators. The economic indicators include the net profit, GDP, productivity based on per capita income. the social indicators are the welfare, wages, security, human rights, corruption, education, human safety and human health. The environmental indicators include the human footprint, global agricultural land, quality of air, water and soil, rate of consumption of resources, generation of waste, carbon emission and its rate (Sridhar 2012).

Accountability- this refers to the responsibility of the corporate world to acknowledge and be concerned about their products, decisions, policies and actions. It is mandatory for the firms to undertake the TBL reporting. This procedure not only reveals the impact of the organization on the society, the economic growth of the firm and this helps the firms to become more responsible and transparent. Additionally, organizations must accountable towards the society and the environment and must include the stakeholders while reporting on a sustainability report (Henriques 2013).

Sustainable construction- sustainable construction can be defined as the converting or renovating, designing of a building in compliance with the energy saving methods and the in accordance with the environmental rules. Sustainable construction aims towards the promotion of the environment-friendly materials and the various companies that promote and use them. Thus, such a method and the process contribute to the sustainability and the wellbeing of the buildings. Sustainable construction also considers the concept of the energy saving. Sustainable construction includes the issues of spreading the knowledge in relation to the social, technical and the academics; flexibility in the usage of the building, change and function; urban architecture and fabric; interdependencies of the various landscapes; improvement of the existing contextual conditions, innovating financial models; working conditions and occupational health and safety; adherence to the ethical standards; stakeholder participation; socially viable environments; long-term monitoring; robust technologies and products, operation and maintenance, resource and energy efficient buildings; construction processes and technology; material performance; management and design of buildings (Serpell, Kort and Vera 2013).  

Sustainable construction clubs together the principles of eco-friendly values, and the green building methods and this lightens up the impact of commercial structures, residential structures on the environment. This is a modern concept which encompasses the usage of the resource-efficient methods of construction for the purpose of deconstruction of the buildings, renovation, maintenance, construction, design. Sustainable construction also includes the total area that is disturbed due to the building of the new structures. Sustainable construction is a form of green construction and this emphasises on the processes of sustainability and reduction of the environmental impact due to the process of construction and at the same time balancing the impact on the environment. Green construction or the sustainable construction takes into consideration an elevated standard in terms of sustainability, and it includes the utilization of the carbon-neutral methods, usage of the sustainable construction materials, and effective employment of the renewable energy sources that will play a major role in future. Currently, sustainable construction has an industry standard which is called the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) construction (Dobiáš and Macek 2014).

Social responsibility

The Triple Bottom Line provides the basic domains which consist of the environment, social and the economic aspects. The key stakeholders in the organization when the role of the TBL is considered with respect to the sustainable construction are employees, customer and the communities around which the firm is established.

Economic sustainability- a sustainable is one that has a constant and a good flow of money from credible sources. A construction company will definitely asses itself in terms of taxes and expenditure with the other companies that are present in the market. These components are established by the factors like cost of employment, employment distribution, jo growth, and personal income. If an organization is having an equal and proper distribution of employment along with the proper job growth, then the organization gives an indication of good performance. Similarly, when a company shows the negative trends of the above-mentioned components, then it gives an indication of zero or negative growth (Kucukvar and Tatari 2013).

Social sustainability- An organization can accrue benefits from the local communities by employing the local communities in its workforce. This will create a bond between the firm and the neighbouring community. At the same time, this particular organization can solve the issues related to the unemployment in the area. This will put the firm or the organization into a better place. However, the firms that are located in places which have high rates of unemployment might create a situation of risk for the company. Such situation or risks can be averted by employing a large number of people belonging to the community and this increases the sustainability of the firm operating locally (Henriques 2013). Maintaining gender parity or gender balance within an organization is one of the issues that companies or firms need to adhere to. Even different countries have different legislation regarding the gender parity. Such legislation promotes recruitment of females and facilitates that the females are represented well within the workforce. Whereas, another important aspect is the health expectancy of the employees. Companies play a major role when they consider the health of the workforce and this ensures social sustainability (Wilson 2015).

Environmental sustainability- Environment as s vital principle of sustainability takes account of the environment where an employee operates. Broadly, the environment emphasises the treatment that the employees receive during their working hours. Although management determines the type of management that will be followed. According to Elkington, environment means the total amount of resources that are present in an area. A company or a firm analyse this by assessing its own performance and the and amount of pollution caused by the company. Thus, an organization that is operating in a region or an area must also devise a measure to curb the rate of pollution caused by the organization in order to increase its sustainability. During the construction process, the organization must keep a note and check on the amount of pollution it is causing to the environment and must at the same time use electricity sustainably. Using building materials that will ultimately create less pollution in the long run and are environment-friendly. Less production of waste and garbage can also help the surrounding environment to remain clean and will help in sustaining the natural environment (Hollos, Blome and Foerstl 2012).


The way the construction materials are used must follow the policy of reusability and recyclability. Wastes must not be disposed into the landfill site to as it requires a lot a space on the land. The harmful substances are also toxic for the ecosystem and environment because it has a biodegradable nature.

Alter Constructions is a big company that provides construction, engineering, maintenance, operation as well as the services to the construction and the engineering market. Alter Constructions has 4 major business streams like infrastructure development, commercial property development, residential development, and construction. Alter Constructions is headquartered in Australia, USA, Nordics, Europe and Sweden. Alter Constructions has undertaken many projects and also projects with other companies as a joint venture. Alter Constructions is majorly a construction company and its sole proprietor is John Hopkins and the company is established in the year 1990 and initially started its journey of building private buildings in Sweden. The company has employed more than 60,000 employees all over the world. The number of female employees is 18,000 and the number of the male employees is 42,000. 40,000 employees are on permanent contract and the remaining 10,000 employees are on a temporary contract. While the part-time employees are 10,000. Majority of the employees are based in Australia and the remaining are allocated to the other headquarters.

Economic bottom-line- Alter Constructions is one of the big companies in the field of construction and is one of the leading constructors in Europe, America and Nordics. Even under the global market turmoil the company maintained to have a steady flow of cash for the fulfilment of the short-term obligations. Thus, to flourish in this industry, new ideas and innovations are necessary. In the construction of the buildings Alter Constructions have introduced the usage of the structural fabrication, structural strengthening and monitoring.

Economic performance indicators (In Billion SEK)









Operating Costs




Employee Benefits and wages




Payment to providers of the funds




Payment to Government




Economic Value retained




Supply chain- Alter Constructions provides equal importance to the components of the supply chain which includes the service providers, sub-contractors, distributors vendors. Whenever there is a need for the development and construction of new industry, the supply chain are required the most for the successful supply of the raw materials. Alter Constructions has 55 percent of the suppliers that are ensure proper time and material management. Majority of the suppliers are local distributors that helps in the growth of the local businesses along with the growth of the country.

Environmental bottom-line- Alter Constructions never recommends to work on the path of development at the cost of the environment. Alter Constructions conducts annual surveys and assessments that highlights the various areas where the company works to mitigate. It regularly conducts safety training, health and environmental trainings at an interval of 6 months. The company has formulated a committee that emphasises on the sustainability practices and at the same time it includes the external stakeholders for effective completion of the environment friendly projects. This has helped Alter Constructions to bag several awards like topping the sustainable brand index for the year 2017. This award is perceived to be one that emphasises on the social and the environmental sustainability. Alter Constructions also won the 2013 award for the corporate responsibility and environment category. Alter Constructions was the only company that was included in the report of forest footprint disclosure.


Energy- in several underdeveloped coal is the preferred source of generating electricity. Thus, Alter Constructions has initiated the governments of such countries to use the renewable sources of energy. The Alter Constructions emphasize on the environment friendly sources of energy that will be less polluting or have zero pollution in the long run. There are several ongoing projects that emphasize on the renewable sources of energy.


Energy Sources





Natural gas (Direct)





Diesel Fuel (Direct)





Electricity (Indirect)





The present projects are currently having installed solar panels for boosting the energy requirement. Alter Constructions also plans to integrate the solar panels in the headquarters to reduce the dependence on the non-renewables.

Water- Due to the climate change certain under developed nations ae currently facing water constraints. Thus, the Alter Constructions is utilizing efficient ways of conserving and reducing the wastage of water.

Emissions- Increased amount of carbon emissions are one of the major issues that present world is facing. The reduction strategies although feasible but seldom are not employed by the companies. Thus, emissions like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide needs to be curbed and reduced in order to reduce the issues related to global climate change. A large part of the emission is related to the high usage of PNG, SNG, diesel and petrol. The majority of the fuels used are for the transportation purposes undertaken by the employees.

Social bottom-line- Alter Constructions believes in the overall development of the social bottom line and as it is surrounded by different communities, Alter Constructions feels obliged to work for them. The various services that are rendered by Alter Constructions are anti-corruption, anti-competitive behaviour, product responsibility, conservation of human rights, skill development. Alter Constructions believes that the promotion of the welfare of the people with automatically improve the workplace environment and along with it improve the retention rate and productivity.

Alter Constructions has a total of 80,000 beneficiaries and within this 30,000 are within the health and safety program, education beneficiaries are about 10,000. Whereas, 7000 are under the process of skill development. 40 percent of the suppliers are under the training of the human rights. Finally, Alter Constructions has 643 female employees per 1000 male employees.

Development of the communities: in the 2010, Alter Constructions has established a community development program that works for the underdeveloped areas facing the issues related to sanitation, water scarcity. Alter Constructions provides clean water and works along with the government for the supply of clean water in several underdeveloped African Nations. The local people are also provided with training so that they can develop skill.


Alter Constructions has established several committees that are emphasize on the development of the rural areas and the rural communities along with the external stakeholders. Alter Constructions provide funds to these committees and they perform their duties and report directly to the board of directors. The various committees are compliance assurance committee, product assurance committee, skill development and local hiring committee, rural development committee, values and ethics committee. The various areas that these committees act are: anti-corruption, anti-competitive behaviour, product responsibility, conservation of human rights, skill development Strategies and analysis.

Social Performance Key indicators

Safety statistics

Man-hours worked (in Million hours)






Lost days


Cases of Non-compliance of products


Cases of Non-discrimination


Training and Education

employees received training for safety


employees attending seminars on anti-corruption


people in community that attended seminar on education


beneficiaries with no hunger aim


A five-year plan is formulated that emphasises the business plan and this strategy is based on the purpose and profit and it is entirely interlinked with each other. Profit is essential for Alter Constructions to build a better society that will contribute towards both purpose and profit that will create value for the shareholders. The plan or the strategy focuses on the three major areas like the operational excellence, marketing making and great people. 

Strategic actions- The strategic actions include increasing the profitability in terms of the construction stream, business focussed on the green strategy, promotion of inclusive culture, focusing on the customer base, establishment of the digital strategies, in order to unlock the potential of synergies there is a need for the establishment of collaboration, investment in the project development.

Restructuring for profitability- Alter Constructions has announced a comprehensive restructuring will be undertaken so as to increase the potential of earning more profit. This strategy will involve the downsizing of the operations that are not strategically important for the company. Alter Constructions will focus on risk management and cost control. The management structure of the company will improve by employing the group management structure so that it can reduce the costs and increase the organizational effectiveness.

Areas of priorities- in alignment with the values of Alter Constructions, the company will boost profits through the project development. Alter Constructions will also provide its customers with the solutions that are based on the inclusion and divert, community investment, green, ethics, encompassing safety, sustainability and innovation.

High performing teams- The culture of Alter Constructions is based on the high performance, true values, trust, transparency with the employees working together to build a better society. Similarly, the employees are provided with many opportunities that help them to both learn and grow at the same time. Thus, professional development will help Alter Constructions in achieving its organizational goals. Employees experiences are broadened because they are an important means of boosting and developing organizational knowledge sharing. The employees will be given the opportunity to work in different geographies, business units and with the different functions.

Strengthening the customer connections- Alter Constructions aims to achieve a better and diverse workforce by retaining and recruiting more employees for the diversified section of the society. Alter Constructions will enable better relationships between the employees and the customers. A diverse workforce will be able to handle wider perspectives and provide best customer solutions.

Alter Constructions is a world leading construction company and it is also responsible for the project development that is focussed on the home market as well as the international market. This company is founded in the year 1990 and it was originally based in Australia with the operation in sectors like public-private partnership projects, residential projects, commercial projects in the construction and development. As per data for the year 2017, Alter Constructions (economic indicators) has generated a revenue of 110 billion dollars, with the revenue generated from the local construction of about 5.5 billion dollars. Income generated from the financial items is around 10 billion dollars. Income generated per share is 10 dollars and the return on equity is around 15 percent. The total number of the employees is about 60,000.

The reporting parameters include the reporting period for a particular information and it includes the dates of the previous reports that are latest. This also consists of the repowering cycle that is biennial and annual. The report content is also based on the identifying the stakeholders that intend to use the report and along with it prioritizing the various topics of the report and determining the materiality.  

Governance- Alter Constructions consists of the shareholders of the company, the board of the directors, the CEO, the president and the management. There are the local business units that function in the home markets along with the support units. Alter Constructions is governed by the members of the leadership team, president and CEO, and the board of the directors. The local business operations are managed by the local business units that look after the four major business streams: infrastructure development, commercial property development, residential development, and construction

Commitments- the purpose of Alter Constructions is to build a better society and set a direction towards which the company can move. The purpose creates a role for the society and this enables the society to create a shareholder value. Alter Constructions provides sustainable and innovative solutions for the customers, communities, and the people. Alter Constructions makes a continued commitment towards the diversity and inclusion, community investment, green, ethics, and safety. Alter Constructions helps it customers so that they can be successful in their business and will be able to understand their businesses according to the needs of the customers.

Engagement- Alter Constructions has normal engagements with the schools and it acts as an industry sponsor. This provides a chance for the students to boost their knowledge as well as the professional careers. Alter Constructions has extended commitment of reduction of carbon emission arising from the carbon elements during the construction phase. This is an engagement that emphasises on the carbon reduction strategies. Energy efficient buildings for the local markets so that they can reach their full potential and is one of the major engagements of Alter Constructions.

The management is based on the classical management style and it emphasises on the individual productivity of the local units. Alter Constructions has the organizational system that focuses on the organizational system that has a proper hierarchy and is structured. The administrative management focuses on the functions of the management and is bureaucratic in nature.

Construction of the sustainable building is a complex job and it considers a lot of factors and it is a critical process. A report must include all the aspects of sustainability as it encompasses economy, society and environment. For multinational construction companies it is very critical, difficult as well as a lengthy procedure to assess and report on the same. Reporting on a sustainability report takes into account a lot of effort from the stakeholders, manager, employees. Thus, it is a very costly and a time consuming affair.  

Developing a sustainable report along with the effective integration of the TBL parameters is a difficult and critical task. Thus, the whole process must not be mixed with the advertising and a promotional report. Conduction survey that are huge and that assess the each and every part of the organization is a critical affair and additionally assessing the improvement data is also a critical and a huge task. Thus the data survey conducted by a company must be both reliable and realistic and a constant. Raw materials must be selected based on the high levels of performance, high efficiency, low cost, highly durable machineries, equipment, less carbon footprint, low energy utilization. This it is important to note that selecting raw materials that will embody all these qualities is very difficult and critical to manage. It is also difficult for the onsite supervisors to report and manage the information regarding raw materials is a difficult job.


From the above discussion it can be concluded that sustainability can be described as a term which emphasises on the carrying out of the activities by putting pressure on the natural resources and without making harmful impacts on nature. Sustainability within the context of the building developments is a complex and a vast subject which needs to be considered at the early stage because it impacts the environment significantly. Triple bottom line can be described as the concept that broadens up the focus of the business on the bottom line of the finances of a business and it includes the environmental and the social considerations. The TBL measures a company’s degree in terms of the environmental impact, economic value and social responsibility. The sustainable development explained in terms of benchmarking, measurability and accountability. Benchmarking- organizations can improve their performance only through the procedures of benchmarking. Measurability- sustainable atmosphere can only be created when the sustainable performance is measured with the proper usage of the environmental, economic and the social indicators. Various tools are used for the assessment and they include the economic indicators, social indicators and the environmental indicators. Accountability- this refers to the responsibility of the corporate world to acknowledge and be concerned about their products, decisions, policies and actions.


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