The Innovation For Sustainable Construction Construction Essay

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Emilia van Egmond-de Wilde de Ligny Abstract- - There is ample evidence of the significant impacts of the construction industry on the environment. The widespread global awareness and understanding of the importance of sustainability in its various dimensions has increased. Technological innovations enabled socio-economic development in the course of time. At the same time world have come to realize that innovation, technologies and knowledge applied in production and construction processes have been a major cause for the threat of climatic change and exhaustion of resources. This paper discusses the issue of the potential role of innovation, technology and knowledge to support the Construction Industry to become more sustainable: to turn the construction performance into one that brings about a built environment with a quality of life, health and wealth for human beings.

Keywords-Innovation, Sustainable Construction, Construction Industry.


THe issue that is discussed in this paper is that innovation - development, diffusion and deployment - of building technologies has a potential to improve the Construction Industry (CI) towards a sustainable construction performance. In the following paragraphs first the current performance of the CI will be discussed. Thereafter the role of innovation in manufacturing industry development and the actual global impact of innovation will be delineated. This is followed by the potential role of innovation in the CI and the factors that can have an impact on it. A description of policies and strategies to stimulate innovation for sustainable construction, sustainable innovations in the Dutch CI and concluding remarks on the findings finalize this paper.

Performance of the Construction Industry

Construction and socio-economic impact

The importance of the Construction Industry (CI) to the national economies is no subject for debate. Its contribution to GDP, fixed capital formation, government revenue and employment is significant. In terms of production output the construction industry with its many forward and backward linkages proves to be one of the largest industries. (Egmond 2007) It impacts the performance of other economical sectors, all tightly depending on the performances of the output of the CI: buildings, infrastructural works (roads, bridges, etc) and service networks (gas, electricity, water, sewers, telephone).

Also in social perspective the CI plays an important role. It provides shelter for all human activities: housing, workplaces and leisure places. From this perspective can be stated without any doubt that the CI has a large impact on the built environment in which we live, work and recreate. It even has an impact on people's way of living, working and recreating.

Yet the CI everywhere faces problems and challenges: globalization, increasing competition, population growth, urbanization and extensive need for housing and the need to substantially reduce pollution. The construction performance has a huge impact on the quality of life.

An increasing number of people live in urban areas in the world. In Europe, about 80% of the population live and work in cities, all of them are the end-user of the CI output. Many countries are currently confronted with an ageing and growing population. In the Netherlands for example the percentage of people older than 65 years increases from 13,3% in 1995 to 21,2 % in 2025. [1] The new demands in society are more diversified. There is a need for more flexibility, to respond to changing family and organizational needs for space without many burdens to the inhabitants and the natural environment in terms of waste generation and natural resource depletion; more safety and security, in the built environment to mitigate the exposure of the inhabitants to man-made hazards, such as crime, fire and explosions ;comfort, well-being and health of people, which provides economic and social benefits in terms of productivity, reduction of illness and social costs for health care; better accessibility of the built environment to allow elderly, disabled and people with reduced mobility to live more and longer independently and autonomously. Meeting the needs is largely affected by the match of factors such as the designed floor plans, the applied structural systems, indoor air quality in the building, and the rapid changing family and organizational needs for the built environment, the perception of comfort and security experienced by the building occupants, living and working in the built environments.

Construction and environmental impact

However the CI is commonly characterized as one that is labor intensive, with a low level of innovation, technology diffusion, technological advancement and on-site construction and thus a low level of industrialization compared to manufacturing. [2] Moreover at present the CI heavily contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and construction and demolition (C&D) waste generation, whilst it consumes large parts of the natural resources such as land, water, energy and raw materials.

Materials, transformed into construction materials and products, are as much as 50% of all materials extracted from the earth's crust. Moreover, these same materials, when they enter the waste stream, account for some 50% of all waste generated prior to recovery.

Construction & Demolition wastes (C&DW) in the EU amount to around 180 million ton per year. About 65% of this is recycled or re-used across the EU-15. A high proportion of the construction wastes are concrete, bricks and tiles, which can be crushed and recycled as alternatives for newly quarried aggregates for certain, lower grade applications. The nature of C&DW is directly linked to techniques used during construction. Increasing variety of materials found in C&DW, adds up to the complexity for management of wastes from demolition activities. The percentage of the recycled or reuse materials can be substantially increased by having a better resource consumption strategies, producing new materials based on waste recycling-reuse technologies and new design strategies to include the end-of-life consideration of buildings.

In 2002, the European domestic and service sectors accounted for 41% of all final energy consumption in the EU-15. Households and services are the third largest source of CO2 emissions in the EU-15 if electric power generation is considered as an alone item (Electric Power: 31%, Transport: 29%, Buildings: 18% in 2001). It becomes the first emitter of CO2 if the respective parts of electricity are included into final sectors: Buildings: 36%, Industry: 33%, Transport: 27%.([3]) At present, 80% of energy consumed during the whole life-cycle of a building is consumed during its service life (20% is consumed for materials production and construction and demolition works). Annual energy consumption in residential buildings in Europe is 100-250 kWh/m². The energy consumption of the European built environment in the next 50 years is mainly determined by the existing building stock. ([3]) Heating and lighting of buildings accounts for the largest single share of energy use (42%; of which 70% for heating) and contributes to about 35% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the global atmosphere. In Eastern and Central Europe, heating energy consumption reaches approximately 250-400 kWh/m². In Northern European countries, well insulated buildings only consume 50-100 kWh/m² per year. Poor design and construction can have a significant effect on the health of building occupants and can produce buildings that are too expensive to maintain heat and cool. The effects can disproportionately affect the elderly and less affluent social groups in the society.

Construction in Developing Countries

Despite the geographic, economic and cultural diversity it is not surprising that also in the so-called Developing Countries (DCs) the CI leaves its unfavorable footprint. This is testified by the physical destruction of land due to the extraction of sand and gravel for concrete and extraction of clay for the production of bricks; the occurrence of floods, landslides due to construction on hill slopes and wet lands; deforestation and increased erosion due to lumbering and clearing of land for building construction. [4] Many DCs are located in the tropical belt. The quality of life in these DCs -measured by health, education, nutrition and income- remains poor for most people. Poverty is a major problem. Rapid economic development and industrialization have taken a heavy toll on the environment in most DCs. Yet sustainable building is still a relatively new concept for the construction industry in DCs. A number of Southeast Asian countries for example have yet to formulate a sustainable development strategy and action plan; others are still establishing the basic legal framework for the environmental protection and management, and for the environmental impact assessment. [4]The Agenda 21 for Sustainable Construction in Developing Countries was launched as a discussion document during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. Faced with extreme survival issues the sustainability approach adopted by DCs often emphasizes the alleviation of poverty and basic housing provision to the lower income population, with little concern for long term environmental impacts. In general, the process of driving sustainability in construction in DCs is slow. The above delineated situation makes the pursuit of sustainable building and construction in DCs particularly challenging.

Need for Sustainable Construction

The foregoing means that the CI should adapt its performance to the needs in society for a more sustainable built environment. This situation calls for radically new sustainable modus operandi in the CI to improve the management of natural resources and to safeguard the quality and safety of the built environment to ensure customer and user satisfaction for a sustained quality of life.

innovation in manufcturing industries

There is no doubt of the effect that innovations have had on world development. In West-European countries development processes involved improved energy generation, transport facilities and industrialization with extensive changes of production systems in manufacturing industries. This resulted in a shift from home-based manual production to large-scale factory production. Industrialization and socio-economic changes are closely intertwined with technological innovation. This is particularly regarding the development of large-scale energy production and developments in the field of new materials such as metallurgy, plastics, and polymers as well as in the mechanical, physical or chemical transformation of materials, substances or components into new products. [5] The production systems in manufacturing changed through mechanization, systematization, standardization, automatization and flexibilization of the production processes in a sequence of era. In response to the customer's demand for more variability of the production output the production processes became more flexible with a movement towards reaching a higher quality of output and the production of finished products of different kinds. What actually has happened in the course of time is that combinations of innovative solutions based on accumulated technological and knowledge advances were adopted in attempts to move from largely craft-based production to a systematic production process where resources are utilized efficiently. In fact a convergence of technologies and knowledge from different areas and disciplines has taken place. [6,7] The natural world changed in the course of time into a man-made world. This went along with social economic and cultural changes. Innovation is characterized by its international dimension. New ICT developments like the Internet have stimulated diffusion of knowledge across national boundaries. Communication and Transport costs decreased dramatically. It enhanced the globalization in the world. In fact a continuous circuit of innovation took place towards improved production which resulted in a socio-economic value added. By means of this again new technologies could be developed to meet the ever increasing and faster changing needs of man. The question may be raised whether this really has lead to a sustainable development in all its dimensions.

global impact of innovation

Innovations do not always result in the expected effects and are not always as appropriate as desired. At present there is a growing public concern and skepticism about the nature of innovation and technologies and their actual impact on sustainable development of the social and natural environment. Nuclear power, climate change and sustainability of technological developments amongst others, have all been subjects of intense political and scholarly debate.

A closer look also shows that changes did not happen in the whole world at the same pace and with the same effects. Innovation still takes in majority place in the advanced countries. Lately also China, India and Brazil are counted as innovating countries, where technological and socio-economic changes rapidly take place. It appears however that particularly the most vulnerable part of world population, representing not less than 75 %, does not profit from the developments. The UN world maps show that this ever concerns the same populations living at locations, with bad housing conditions and high child mortality rate. Also at locations that are vulnerable for natural and man-made hazards. In these so-called developing countries one can also notice a dual development pattern. Seemingly only a small part of the population in these countries could benefit from innovations. Moreover one can also see that the way of life is often taken over from the advanced countries by that part of the population, thereby introducing a "MacDonaldized" culture. Technology choices are then lead by the examples from the advanced countries also in building construction. Traditional materials and techniques are abandoned. "Modern" often cement based materials and innovative techniques are introduced instead, just taken over from abroad, thereby introducing the negative impacts of these practices as well. Moreover often the knowledge to correctly apply the materials and techniques have not yet increased sufficiently, which results in a bad building quality. It has to be said that the latter is not only the case for developing countries. It takes a certain learning period for a correct application of any innovative technology, which is unfortunately too often forgotten.

Besides it also needs to be indicated that this way of introduction and application of technologies and materials from abroad is already brought in by the colonial administrators in many developing countries. The same way of working is continued particularly in large prestige projects such as those financed by international organizations.

potential role of innovation in construction

Fortunately there is also another side of the coin. Technological innovations can and are also being used at present in efforts to better meet the needs of man and societies in the countries but also internationally in support to create a sustainable world.

By drawing parallels between the positive impacts of innovations in manufacturing industries, innovations in the CI are also expected to contribute to the increase of quality and sustainability, to eliminate dependence on weather conditions at the construction site, to improve coordination of planning and construction and to reduce costs through faster construction. Viewing building construction as a production system, sub-divided in a number of individual products and production processes, implies that each of these has a potential to be improved through innovation. This means that innovations can be applied to (a) building and design concepts (b) building components, materials, elements and systems as well as integrated in the total building. (c) the process of design, engineering and specification of the construction; (d) the process of project execution, i.e. the actual building process.

Efforts to bring about high performing sustainable buildings have increased dramatically in recent years. The construction industry is experiencing massive changes in construction techniques and products. These have created significant opportunities for the improvement of the construction output . The area where the future is brightest is in the development of sustainable construction technologies and materials. These include such things as the use of composite materials, the use of recycled waste in new products, the development of non-traditional materials that have less environmental impact, new construction techniques that reduce waste and innovations in the management and scheduling of projects.

The actual impact of the innovations highly depends on the so-called technological regime and which and how a choice is made for a certain technology. Technological regimes are seen as social constructs: a pattern of knowledge, rules, regulations conventions, consensual expectations, assumptions, or thinking shared by the actors in the innovation system. The technological regime characterizes the professional practice of the network actors and guides the design and further the development of innovations ([8, 9]. In short: the Technological Regime includes the stakeholders'(1) practices and actions, (2) knowledge and experience and (3) expectations, motivations and incentives. [6]. Besides there is the macro level framework where socio-economic, cultural, natural and physical aspects rule the game and which has always been an important determining factor in the professional practices. [10,11]

In the construction industry inventions, acceptance, diffusion and application of technologies, and improvements in building construction slowly come to pass. Examples where the application of innovative ideas, sustainable materials and technologies took a relatively rapid pace were those used in post-disaster reconstruction as well as in the projects to mitigate the negative impacts of natural and man-made hazards. The advantage of the application of these innovative materials and technologies in the mentioned cases is that here there is the need of fast action. In normal circumstances many barriers need to be taken before an invention is accepted.

Evidence showed a number of factors that are due to this: conservatism; a reluctance to change enhanced by risks of unforeseen failure and damage during project execution and a marginality of profits. Although sustainable building has evolved as a dynamic, rapidly growing field it still is a relatively new concern for the CI. Construction is deeply embedded in local laws, regulations, and institutions and not in the least place in long -established professional practices. The result of this is that many technological opportunities are under-utilized. [12, 6,] Nevertheless the CI can be expected being a key player in the establishment of a sustainable building performance.

policies and strategies for innovation and sustainable construction

Thanks to the increased awareness for the need to change the construction practices in many countries policies, strategies and regulations are developed to stimulate sustainable innovation in construction.

In the Netherlands for example about a decade ago design guidelines for sustainable building were developed by a consortium of government agencies and industry partners focused at reduction of energy and material utilization. A problem here was that the guidelines had no enforcement power. There were no sanctions nor incentives to use the guidelines. Only in the case of energy utilization, sanctions were enacted when the Energy Performance Norm (EPN) came into force. The EPN (part of the Building Code) implies that applicants of building permits have to show that their building specifications meet the EPN before a municipality will issue a permit. How this energy efficiency target is achieved is left over to the actors in the CI. [26]This freedom makes this policy instrument highly appreciated by the CI.

In the course of time several sustainability assessment methods were developed to support decision making in construction projects. Most of them were developed at universities and at research institutes related to universities- stimulated by the government. (Bijen and Schuurmans, 1994).Research has indicated that such instruments have the potential to increase the awareness of the clients and practitioners in the construction industry regarding sustainability. Examples of sustainability assessment methods in the Netherlands are the Greencalc ( a life cycle assessment method) and GPR. GPR is a Dutch abbreviation for Municipal Practice Guidelines for Sustainable Building. Sustainable building is defined by them as: "creating built environments with a highest possible quality and at the same time a lowest possible environmental pressure. Maximising quality implies safeguarding of quality of health, use value and environment, at present and in future". Besides contributions have to be made to minimising problems such as the greenhouse impact, exhaustion of resources and loss of bio-diversity. GPR - building is a software instrument that converts design data of a building into quality and sustainability performance ratings compared with sustainability ambitions ratings regarding the topics energy, environment, health, use quality and future value. Each topic is given a quality rating on a scale of 1 to 10. The rating system is based on the performance of reference buildings and LCA-calculations. It is comparable with other rating systems such as the US Leed and UK Breeam. The method was primarily developed for new buildings, but the newest version gives also insight in the sustainability of existing buildings. The software tool provides a rather rapid and simple insight into the impact of certain energy-saving measures or the application of other materials in an existing building. It gives concrete tips for practical decision making. The performance ratings are conveniently arranged and reflected in consumer and CO2-reduction labels. The method is integrated in the current guidelines for sustainable procurement by government authorities. Provincial authorities stimulate municipalities to express their sustainability ambitions by using this method.

innovations for sustainable construction in the dutch case

Basic principles applied to sustainable construction

A number of design concepts and principles for Sustainable Construction (SuCo) were developed based on insight in the building construction processes. Figure 1 illustrates this process in which flows of energy, materials and water by means of technology are transformed into the desired output (Indoor and outdoor built environment). It also shows the possible intervention mechanisms applicable to streamline the construction processes towards adequately meeting the market demands for sustainable construction.

knowledge & skills












Market demand

Triple P people planet profit


Figure 1 Sustainable Construction

Source: adapted from Stofberg & Duijvestein 2009

SuCo encompasses the simultaneous pursuit of a balanced social equity, environmental quality and economic prosperity (people, planet and profit) in the built environment. This implies the development and safeguarding of a built environment with a quality that benefits man, natural environment and society for the present generation without harming the opportunities for future generations to respond to their demands for a sustainable built environment.[13] What it in fact boils down to is that SuCo implies energy and resource efficient construction to meet the specific demands for a sustainable indoor and outdoor environment. [14]

Innovations for sustainable construction

Since the beginning of the 1990's a relatively small network of green organizations composed of green consultants, green architects, green real estate developers, and green contractors operate in the field of SuCo. Many of these organizations had a certain relation to universities and research centers. They carried out demonstration projects financed by the government, in which innovative sustainability concepts were applied. The knowledge and experience developed in these projects was used to further develop and improve design tools for the use of materials, energy, buildings and the built environment. [15,16,17] Frequently, these lists were used to standardize SuCo practices. The awareness amongst construction stakeholders regarding the importance of achieving a more sustainable built environment has been given a new boost during the last years in the Netherlands. Increasing construction resource costs and a growing lack of on-site skilled labour -enhanced by an ageing society- stimulated innovation in construction towards industrialization and improved sustainability. Development and application of innovative solutions to reduce energy, materials and waste are the most popular strategies. Less attention is given to water saving.

The so-called Trias Energetica concept is employed to decrease energy utilization. This concept focuses at (1) prevention of unnecessary use of energy; (2) the use of renewables; (3) the deliberate use of clean and high performance non-renewables. All newly built houses are presently fully insulated in the Netherlands. Building regulations are the most important reason for construction professionals to implement energy strategies, although energy saving is often mentioned as a priority by the major clients in their environmental policies to get a green image. Window insulation, high performance boilers for central heating and solar boilers are applied to increase energy efficiency. Window insulation is most often applied, probably because this is most easy energy saving solution to apply in existing buildings. (MNC, Thus far investments in innovative technologies such as solar boilers are still not yet completely cost-effective and thus are not really commercially appealing.

The principles employed to improve the sustainable use of building materials include (1) dematerialization; (2) substitution; (3) increase of the lifespan of the building and building parts; (4) enhancement of the reuse and recycling of building parts and materials. The majority of principles to improve the sustainable use of building materials are focused at the substitution of the traditionally used building materials. In more than 50% of the built houses for example this takes place by using innovative eco-materials and products like FSC timber, water based acrylic binders, recycled PVC rainwater pipes, water saving toilets, water saving showers. Paints with limited solvents, concrete aggregates to substitute gravel, and high performance glazing are less often applied, whilst separate water tubes for hot water and second hand building materials are applied to an even much lesser extent.[18]

Based on the awareness of the important role which industrialised building can play in driving up quality and value while cutting resource utilization and construction costs Industrial. Flexible and Demountable systems (IFD) were developed. Requirements for the IFD building systems included (1) a completely dry building method: no pouring of concrete, mortar joints, screeds, stuccowork, sealant or PUR spray; (2) a perfect modular dimensioning: a great deal of attention has to be given to the engineering details, prototype testing, and assembly instructions (3) the adjustability/ adaptability of all parts in differing degrees: bearing structure (limited),installation (practically unlimited), outer shell (limited and modular),interior finishing (practically unlimited and modular); (4) a maximum flexibility with respect to vertical and horizontal piping, providing various possible locations for toilets, kitchens and bathrooms. IFD also requires a process innovation: early strong cross-industrial collaboration between the stakeholders and a multidisciplinary approach during design and production, with changes in the traditional roles of the stakeholders. Specific skills are required for the organization and facilitation of and participation in the design, production and construction process. By working following these lines of thought the IFD building concept is expected to integrate the requirements of various construction phases. IFD building can be seen as a three-pronged strategy to innovate the building process with the resulting benefits of (1) flexibility for the client, (2) industrial production for the manufacturer to cut materials, costs and time and increase quality, and (3) demountability for society to decrease waste. [19] The industrial production of components offers increasing opportunities for sustainable construction. Demountable building enables a separate replacement of components with various life spans, thereby extending the life of the building as a whole and thus decreasing waste generation due to demolition. [27]. In the course of time large investments in innovation have taken place to meet the goals for IFD by collaborations between the knowledge institutions, industry and housing corporations. Much research was particularly focused at developing innovative load-bearing structures, building envelopes and interior building components. A result of research on the load bearing structure was a main structure that is composed of a steel support construction of hot-rolled standard profiles with concrete panel floors usually made of hollow elements, whilst piping is integrated in the supports and the floor panels. This offers an optimal free space which provides various layout possibilities whilst partitions can be placed anywhere. [20].

A rather successful development based on this frame of thinking was the replacement of on-site solid masonry for the industrially produced hollow ceramic tile cladding system for external façades, maintaining the "ceramic architectural look", while reducing mass and increasing flexibility, dismantling and re-use options. It is a sandwich construction (cavity wall) with a concrete inner wall (80mm), a core of 120mm insulation and a concrete outer wall with a finishing of split burnt bricks. Glazed window frames are integrated in the prefab masonry facade elements. Wall sockets are integrated in the inner cavity wall as well.

International state of the art of sustainable construction

A pilot study of construction resource costs in the EU in 2006 showed that the Netherlands, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries perform rather well in terms of sustainable resource utilization. The common factors that made this possible included: Substantial off-site profit; Highly mechanized site distribution; Just-in-time delivery of material and components; Low load of material waste; Well-paid onsite workforce; Skilled and well-trained workforce; High level of R&D; Flexible relationship between design/architecture and contractors; Early influence of contractors in the design process; Use of liability insurance.[21] Yet in the Netherlands the success for the moment is far behind the practice in for instance Scandinavian countries. Swedish CI for example uses industrialised techniques to cut costs for residential construction. So-called catalogue housing units are prefabricated with different modules allowing the design of fully personalised buildings, fully finished, including wallpaper, radiators, bath and kitchen units. The building site is protected from the weather and the house can be assembled by a team of four people. [22] Belgium has several factories producing pre-fabricated units with a well trained workforce, limited subcontracting and lean management. A contractor provides detailed technical designs. Alternative solutions to facilitate industrialization and extensive R&D are made possible through partnerships with universities. The pre-fabricated units lead to at least 30% savings in steel and concrete. [22] By working along these lines the roles of the various stakeholders in the construction chain are changing drastically.

A major focus in technological innovation and industrialization for SuCo has been on residential construction. Rovers (2007) mentions that in office building construction only marginal improvements have been established, and this mainly depends on the client's ambitions to expose a green image. An important development in this sector has been the reduction of the constructed volume by means of an innovative organisational concept: the flex-working concept. In this working concept -which is based on the view that most of the employees are only part of the time present in the office- there are no fixed work places anymore. Employees have to seek for a desk which they can occupy anywhere in the office building. With the flex concept up-to 50 % space reduction has been achieved. [23].


Suco issues and building life cycle thinking are expected to be integrated in the development of design, building elements and components as well as in the execution of construction projects alongside the traditional factors such as functionality, aesthetics, technical and physical durability, producability and costs. The efficiency and efficacy of the CI has improved in the course of time. Government support was an absolute condition to create loyalty to SuCo in the Netherlands. Subsidies are considered as an important stimulation measure. However the actual targets for Suco are not yet reached. Besides after years of promotion and stimulation of environmental building practices, the Dutch government has decided to chance its policy line into a more commercial approach. From 2004, the market was expected to pick up the phenomenon of sustainable building. At the moment the main driving parties are municipalities and large organizations that initiate new innovative projects.

The CI is challenged to change their practices in order to achieve SuCo targets. The driving factors for the achieved results in SuCo were cost reduction, profit and output maximization. Although there have been a number of successes in pilot projects, innovative technologies, demonstration projects and financial schemes there was no success in terms of absolute reduction of resource use in the CI.

However the strategies focused at minimization of losses in primary materials and material uses have underpinned that industrialised construction which takes into account the sustainability aspects, by means of the development and implantation of innovations, contributes to the achievement of this objectives. By focusing in design and project execution at standardized materials, recycled and renewable materials, flexibility and dismantling of these and the use of exact sizes of prefab panels, waste generation decreased significantly.

However SuCo is understood to be more than only insulation and waste reduction in traditional building construction. Policies have primarily focused on material and energy saving in buildings and waste reduction during the construction process. Yet new "cradle to cradle" views indicate that SuCo should imply that buildings are designed from the outset so that even after their functional lives, they will provide nourishment for something new. [24] Hence SuCo requires the implementation of innovative solutions in the CI and project execution which go beyond the traditional and generally accepted way of building. Designers, building material producers and contractors thus need to bring about design concepts, building elements and components as well as adaptations in the building processes by collaboration, innovation, integration and industrialisation of construction processes in order to achieve the optimum application of the sustainability principles during all stages of the life cycle of buildings.

Innovative sustainable solutions for design, building materials en processes require investment in time and research costs, whilst such efforts are risky and their results cannot always be predicted to turn out positively. This boosts the perception of high investment costs of SuCo. Besides life cycle thinking implies additional costs that occur on top of the initial investments. Although the Dutch case learns that there is apparently no dispute in the CI about their responsibility to meet the SuCo targets, there is reluctance amongst the various stakeholders in construction to be individually responsible in risky endeavours. A weakness of the CI to innovate for improved sustainability is the division of roles and responsibilities in the CI. Design and selection of building systems and materials is in the majority of the projects in the hands of the designers and consultants, which results in aesthetically sound but too often expensive buildings, waste, longer construction times and inferior guarantees. Another difficulty is that it is almost impossible to specify a sustainable building. There are new practices, such as componentization and innovative integrated manufactured building. Yet sustainable innovation should take into account the fragmented nature of the industry with lots of small SMEs as well as long and complex supply chains. SMEs form the largest proportion of the CI but are not well represented among the bodies that develop sustainability standards, new practices and best practices. Sustainability standards and norms are essentially to support the construction practice but there is a lack of knowledge on SuCo in the CI. Moreover, the CI is largely project-oriented, so learning and knowledge tends not to be passed on outside the small firm and its co-contractors. [25] Innovation for SuCo calls for building teams in which the construction project parties collaboratively share the risks. For the achievement of the adoption of SuCo measures on a large scale it is essential to accompany environmental gains with gains in building-economic terms and in health improvements. Dutch experience learns that government support is necessary to stimulate SuCo. Hence policy should incorporate incentives for the industry to partly carry the risks.