Keywords: sustainability, planning, design, manufacture, construction, management, built environment, South Africa
The transition to sustainability in the planning, construction and management of the built environment in South Africa
The concept of sustainable development and its application in South Africa are outlined, within the context of emerging policies and legislation. South African trends in the transition to sustainability are discussed for each of five stages in the life cycle of the built environment: urban planning; project design; the manufacture of building materials and products; construction and maintenance and management. When these trends are evaluated in terms of the economic, social, and environmental components of sustainability, a number of issues become apparent. Differing forms of environmental sustainability are evident in all five stages of the life cycle, although environmental factors should not be overlooked in "fast-track" development, driven as it is by a sense of urgency to create economic growth. Economic sustainability is most readily observed in the construction phase through the empowerment of emerging contractors, employment-intensive practices, and training initiatives for construction workers. Social sustainability is mainly addressed during planning and design through public participation in decision making. Challenges to be addressed include maximising employment creation, adopting a proactive stance to environmental management within the construction industry, enhancing the sense of community "ownership" of projects, and redeveloping a sense of civic responsibility in citizens. Meeting these challenges is a necessary precursor to the transition to sustainability in the provision and management of the South African built environment.