The “Triple-Bottom-Line” Approach to a Sustainable Construction Strategy

ADCO explains our holistic approach to implementing metrics-driven sustainability on our fit out and construction projects. 


As a main contractor and as a responsible member of the business community, we at ADCO Contracting believe the balance must be struck between business development and the protection of the environment. The question we’re answering today is; how do we measure our sustainability success?

We recognise that the concept of sustainability in the construction industry has evolved over the years, from the initial focus on how to deal with inadequate resources such as energy, to technical issues, such as materials and construction technologies. Now we as an industry have energy-related design concepts such as “eco-build” or “green build” and industry certifications such as LEED and BREEAM which provide established frameworks. While we have embraced and championed these certifications, at the same time we recognised an opportunity to go above and beyond these prescriptions by implementing our own sustainability metrics. 


What is a sustainability metric?

A sustainability metric is a measure or a set of measures that provide information on pre-defined and agreed variables. These metrics can vary from project to project and depend on a range of factors including project type and scope, location, client, team etc. Some of the more common examples of metrics include site and land use, energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials, indoor environment quality, waste management, and pollution issues.


What is the “triple-bottom-line”?

According to research findings published earlier this year; sustainable construction practices form the basis of three main features: social welfare, environmental protection, and economic prosperity

  1. Social well-being is about emotions and human feelings, security, safety, satisfaction, and comfort. 
  2. The concern of environmental sustainability is with the extraction of natural resources and includes construction activities which impact on the environment.
  3. Economic sustainability is related to financial gains from the project for the benefit of clients, contractors, public, and government bodies

These three features essentially form the basis of our “triple-bottom-line” approach where we set ourselves the goal of a minimum performance to be achieved under each heading. 


How does it work in practice?

Our sustainability goals cannot be achieved in a vacuum and require input, cooperation and coordination from all project stakeholders. In fact, we would go so far as to say that the involvement of stakeholders and advocates is of paramount importance to the process. This is why we ensure that each project’s philosophy, mission, vision, values, goals, and objectives are fully articulated and stated from the very beginning. 

Lessons learned and measurements recorded from previous projects form the beginning of the next project and by building as many similar metrics into our cross-industry projects as possible we begin to make quantification of the more “intangible factors” easier. 

A small selection of some specific examples of the metrics we have developed include; the total training hours for workers in sustainability during construction, the percentage of local resources used on the project, the amount of construction noise and its impact on the local community, building energy use during the construction process and the percentage of recycled materials used overall.

Through consistent and circular investigation, implementation, measurement and assessment our sustainability metrics allow us to build a comprehensive picture of what worked well and where we can improve. There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” sustainability strategy however that doesn’t mean there is no overlap. The goal in implementing and reviewing these metrics is to allow us to complete projects that are effectively and efficiently produced and promote sustainability in the society as a whole.  

To discuss how we can help you with your sustainable construction project, reach out to us here.

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