The Influence of the Environment on the Successful Completion of Construction Projects

A Case Study of Dubai Skyscrapers

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2010

49 Pages, Grade: A



1.1 Background
1.2 Research Questions
1.3 Aims of the Study
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Study
1.6 Rationale for the Study
1.7 Summary and Conclusion

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Analysis
2.3 Conclusion

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Methodology
3.3 Target Population
3.4 Sample and Sampling Techniques
3.5 Data Collection and Data Collection Procedures
3.5.1 Primary Sources
3.5.2 Secondary Sources
3.6 Pilot Test
3.7 Data Analysis and Presentation
3.8 Limitations of the Study
3.9 Ethical Considerations
3.10 Summary of the Chapter

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Data Analysis and Reporting
4.2.1 Experience in the construction projects
4.2.2 Construction Projects and Impact on the Environment
4.2.3 Social Effect on the Construction Projects
4.2.4 Effect of Economy on the Construction Project
4.2.5 Effect of Available Technology on the Project
4.2.6 Effect of Political Land Scape
4.2.7 Successful Completion of the Project
4.3 Regression Model

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Discussion
5.3 Conclusion.




1.1 Background

All projects must take place within an environment. The environment represents in this case, are the external conditions that affect the development of any project. Therefore these conditions may be economic, political, technological, or social. They make up the environment within which any project operates. A project will in one way or the other be impacted by these factors during the course of the project cycle (Fewings, 2005). These factors will either impact the project negatively or positively and in the long run affect the completion of the project. In real scenarios in project management, the external conditions are risk factors which affect the completion of the project. They act as risk factors because they will affect how the project is carried out. In the case that these factors are not mitigated then it is not possible to have a successful project (Halpin & Senior, 2010).

People and communities also stay within the environment. Development initiatives when initiated have an effect on the people who live within a given environment. It is thus paramount these people are taken care of during the process of development in order to ensure minimal impact from these activities (Klinger & Susong, 2006). This has led to the development of concepts such as the environmental impact assessment reports that are carried out to provide information on the impact of a project on the environment. This is done so as to try and shield people from the effects that come from the continued development activities in the natural environment (Himes, 2008).

The prep-planning phase to the completion phase all interact with the environment. The larger the project the higher the amount of activities involved within them. These activities if not controlled could damage the environment to a big extent. Construction projects interfere with so many things within the natural environment and this is what leads to resistance when the development of a new building is initiated. The resistance first comes from the people who live close to the site (Klinger & Susong, 2006). These people will be directly affected by the building and thus they will suffer more if the building comes into existence. If the building is constructed within the urban areas, it will interfere with a number of things and these include: traffic systems, roads, business premises and visualization. Therefore, as the building is going to have impact on a number of things and people within the natural environment, it becomes important that an assessment is made on what impacts the project is likely to bring and the things that will be affected by the project (Lancaster & Plotkin, 2010). In the end a good environmental assessment report should be able to point out the salient issues and what can be done to solve such issues. If the magnitude of the problem is big chances are that the building may not be approved in the long run (Lester, 2007).

The environment itself is a risk factor to any construction project. The project will face resistance from the people or the community around it during construction. The economy will also affect the construction of the project as it will impact on the kind of materials that will be used in the construction of the project. The site itself will dictate which kind of building can be erected at the site (Loosemore, 2003). The available technology will dictate how the building will be constructed and how fast it can be constructed. The political landscape of the nation will also determine what will be built and what will not be built including building designs and architectural drawings. The political landscape will determine building laws that in turn will affect how the project will come up. All these factors are risks that must be mitigated by the project manager and all of them are external to the project, existing within the project environment (Morton & Ross, 2008).

The success of any project depends on the achievement of certain critical success factors. The accomplishment of the key project deliverables within the specified time frame can be seen as a key indicator for the success of the project. However, this is not the only way in which project managers can be able to measure project success (Lester, 2007). Project success is dependent on key factors within the environment that directly impact on the project. It is possible that the project manager might have set key performance indicators to measure the success of the project and by the end of the project; these might not have been achieved upon evaluation. The problem is usually that many of the risks of the project may not have been addressed and thus lead to failure of the project (Han, Yusof, Ismail, & Aun, 2012).

Success in construction projects is not a simple matter. Project managers especially those working on large projects; admit that working on a large construction project is not a simple task. It means that the environment is totally supportive of the structure and that the structure has a minimal impact on the environment (Himes, 2008). There is no way a construction project will begin and fail to experience resistance from the environment. The reason being that, each and every project has its own impacts on the people around it and the natural and built environment. The effects depend on the nature of the project itself and the magnitude of activities that take place during the project (Han, Yusof, Ismail, & Aun, 2012).

During the planning stage, which takes a longer time than the project itself, the project manager together with the environmental review consultant must go through a number of things to ensure that the project works in harmony with the environment (Winch, 2010). The result is a report that points out the specific activities together with their impacts and how the project will be affected by these factors and how the project will affect these factors. These external conditions are then treated as risks factors by the project manager who works on a strategy to ensure that these risks are effectively mitigated to ensure success (Tang, Ahmed, Aoieong, & Poon, 2005).

Success of the construction project may be looked at in terms of the traditional quantifiable metrics which are easy to establish. It becomes difficult in other circumstances to measure project success based on the level of quality as this is usually more subjective. The environment affects the quality of the project because the success of the project depends on how the risks factors in the environment were treated (Morton & Ross, 2008). Quality will definitely be affected if the risk factors were not identified earlier and dealt with. Thus, the environment will affect how people will view the construction project even if the key performance indicators were met and the project was a success in the eyes of the project manager. Success in construction projects thus encompasses many things including the activities in the physical environment and how they were carried out and what impacts they had on the people and the physical environment itself (Tang, Ahmed, Aoieong, & Poon, 2005).

There is increasing pressure being mounted on the construction industry to take environmental considerations into the daily decision making processes of construction projects. Why this is the case is because construction projects are being blamed for the large amounts of energy consumption, wastage of water and natural resources and pollution of the natural environment (Chen & Li, 2006). Despite the huge consumption of energy and the release of greenhouse gases, there are many strategies that can be employed by project managers in the construction of buildings in order to reduce the green-house emissions. The mitigation efforts have led to the development of two common concepts in the construction industry: lean philosophy and green buildings (Gordon, 2001).

The lean philosophy in construction projects is concerned with eliminating waste and increasing productivity through the pull system, employee involvement and continuous improvement. Many projects have benefited a great deal from this concept. In the construction industry, the emergence of this concept has contributed greatly to the elimination of waste, prevention of pollution in construction and maximizing the owners’ value (Forbes & Ahmed, 2009). The lean philosophy has also contributed greatly to sustainable development through the minimization of resource depletion, minimization of environmental pollution and the matching of business and environmental excellence. Lean management as a concept can be used effectively in construction projects and this ensure success as many of the impacts that a project might have had on the environment are highly reduced (Klinger K., 2011).

The green building concept was born of the need to conserve the environment and ensure sustainability. Green buildings are made in such a way that there energy consumption is very low and thus they do not release greenhouse gases in the environment. Many of the buildings being constructed today are green buildings because of the need to continuously conserve the environment and ensure sustainability (Gordon, 2001). A lot has been done to ensure that these building use energy from the environment and that they are environmental friendly in all aspects and in so doing conserve the environment and at the same time use very few resources. The green building concepts thus ensures that buildings are environmentally responsible and at the same time they are resource efficient in all the stages of the project. Such buildings require close cooperation from all the stakeholders in order to ensure that project is successful (Forbes & Ahmed, 2009).

The green building concept may seem to be new but it is not as it stems from the traditional and classical practices that ensured that construction projects are economical, durable and offer comfort. Green buildings are thus designed in order to ensure: (1) the efficient utilization of resources which include energy, water among other resources; (2) the protection of the health of the occupants of the building in order to increase their productivity; (3) the reduction of waste, prevention of pollution and the prevention of environmental degradation (Gordon, 2001).

In the world today, Dubai has come up as one of the most influential city in the world and a business hub. Dubai’s economy grew mainly from the proceeds that were got from the oil industry. However, things continue to change as it now receives revenue from a wealth of other sectors which include tourism and real estates. It is continuing to grow day after day attracting the world’s attention with its operations and business activities with many people preferring to visit it when visiting the Arab world (Davidson, 2008).

The reason why Dubai was used as a case study in this research is because it has continuously attracted the world’s attention with major construction projects that have been carried out in it. It is well known for the most innovative, technologically driven construction projects including buildings as well other facilities. Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building today with many other buildings also falling in the same category (Davidson, 2008). Such is the Burji Khalifa in Dubai is the World’s tallest building standing at 829.84 meters which is about 2,723 feet tall. It was named the world’s tallest building in 2010 when it was officially completed and opened for use. The building is taller than any other building ever constructed in the world over centuries. The building stands on a man-made island making it one of the most innovative structures of the 21st century (Emporis, 2012).

1.2 Research Questions

Every research has the purpose of solving a specific problem. It is a problem that leads to a study in order to find information that can be used to solve the particular problem. The research problem in social research is what leads to the generation of the research questions. The research question provides answers to what the study is seeking to find out (Creswell, 2003). Therefore a clear well thought out question that leads to the generation of new hypotheses, and further question is appropriate for any study. Research questions must be clear, well-structured and researchable (Tayie, 2005). In this study, the research question is: What is the influence of environmental factors on the successful completion of a construction project?

1.3 Aims of the Study

As discussed in the background, this study tries to understand the influence of environmental factors on the successful completion of construction projects. From this, the aim of the research is therefore to critically look at the environmental factors and find out how these factors impact on the successful completion of construction projects. A number of factors will thus be studied to try and understand how these factors influence the success of construction projects.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

Each and every study must have study objectives. Study objectives act as a road map to guide the researcher during the research process so as to effectively answer the research questions. Therefore a good study must begin with a good research question which is then followed by a critical exposition of the study objectives in order to lead the researcher to answer the study questions (Rugg & Petre, 2006). The specific study objectives include:

-To establish what project success entails in the construction industry.
-To establish what environmental factors influence project success.
-To establish how the identified environmental factors impact project success.
-To investigate which among the factors has the most impact on the successful completion of construction projects.
-To investigate how project managers mitigate the environmental factors to ensure project success.

1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Study

Studies cannot cover everything. There are things that are beyond a given study and which influence the success of every study. The scope defines the limits of the study by providing the boundaries within which the study will be carried out. The limitations on the other hand present issues that the study could not tackle because of one thing on the other (Creswell, 2003). This study is going to centre on issues in construction projects only. Only the external conditions affecting constructions projects will be considered. The study will also look at skyscrapers in Dubai only and not any other city. A skyscraper as defined by Korom (2008) is any “multi-story office, residential, or commercial building usually fitted with a passenger elevator.” This definition, by the fact of the elevator means a building with floors greater than five. The study is only limited to skyscrapers with over 80 stories. These include: Burj Khalifa (163 floors) Princess Tower (101), 23 Marina (90 floor), Elite residence (87 floors) and Ocean Heights (83 floors)

1.6 Rationale for the Study

In the 21st century, issues to do with the environment have taken centre stage. The physical environment has been polluted and resources depleted. Action has to be taken to ensure that the environment is protected. Any projects take place within a given context or setting. This context is what dictates the success of such projects. These are the external or environmental factors which are key to the success of a project. The context of the project thus presents a number of risks that must be addressed if any project has to succeed. Without the consideration of these factors success is illusive (Kerzner, 2004).

Many construction projects especially in urban areas begin and stop immediately they are began. A number of issues are then identified as contributing to the stalling of the project. Many project managers of such projects go through a lot in trying to ensure that all works well but in the long run, many give up on the project. However, the project managers fail to understand that environment within which a project is began or established will have a drastic effect on the success of that project. Project success is dictated much by the environment just as it is dictated by finances and other resources critical for its completion (Lock, 2007). This study is influenced by such failures and thus tries to bring into perspective some of the contextual factors or environmental factors that have an impact on the success of construction projects. This will help project managers plan earlier on how such risks can be mitigated so as to ensure success of the project.

A case study methodology is the approach taken in this study. A number of cases will be studied and not just a single case. The methodology is appropriate because of the fact that the study aims at establishing specific factors. The case study methodology will help in identifying these issues with ease. The method is also simple and easy to work with.

The dissertation is divided into five sections. The first chapter is the Introduction which will provide a brief background to the study and identify specific study objectives, aims, scope and limitations and the rationale for the study. The second chapter will be a review of literature to identify what other scholars has come up with as concerns this topic. Chapter three will look at the methodology that will be used in the study and the appropriateness of the methodology in addressing the research question. Chapter four will be the analysis of presentation of the findings from data collection. Chapter five will provide a summary and a conclusion to the study and identify recommendations for future research.

1.7 Summary and Conclusion

This chapter has presented a number of things that are critical to this study. It began with a background, explaining some of the concepts important in this study. These included issues to do with the environment and construction projects. This was immediately followed by the research questions, aims of the study and the study objectives. These are meant to guide the research in trying to solve the study problem. This was then followed by the scope and limitation that provided the research boundaries and what issues will be tackled in the research and what will not be tackled. It has ended with the rationale that provides the motivations behind the carrying out of this study.


2.1 Introduction

This chapter presents a review of the literature on studies that other researchers have carried out on the topic of this study. The successful completion of a construction project is the main aim of a construction manager. Achieving this aim is done through the adoption of appropriate tools and techniques. Traditionally, the success of any project is measured through the attainment of the set objectives. Baker, Murphy, and Fisher (1983) define project success by including the aspect of attaining the desired level of technical standards, level of satisfaction of major stakeholders and also the attainment of the set objectives.

Several researchers have identified the environment as having an effect on the successful completion of construction projects (Songer & Molenaar 1997, Chua, Kog and Loh, 1999; Walker & Vines, 2000). Environment has been defined as all the external and internal influences on the construction project. These include social political and technological aspects. The variables used to measure the impact of the environment on construction projects are the social, economic, physical, political, industrial and technological advancement.

2.2 Analysis

2.2.1. The environment

The environment has continuously played an important role in development. A number of things have continued to take centre stage as concerns the environment. The continued efforts to protect it show how important it is to the survival of mankind. The 21st century has witnessed key developments with many aimed at sustainability. The issue with this is that the environment from which we get resources from is at the risk of being exhausted (Chen & Li, 2006). The resources are at the risk of being depleted because a number of people are struggling to get these resources. The few available resources have been strained making it necessary to try and conserve the remaining for the future generations (Fewings, 2005).

Globally, there has been a big debate on the value of ensuring that the physical environment is protected from activities that take place on a daily basis. These activities cause harm to the environment and cause the loss of biodiversity. In this way it becomes very difficult for species to survive (Lancaster & Plotkin, 2010). It has also been very difficult for cultures and communities to survive due to the problems that are created through development initiatives. Communities have thus come out strongly to help preserve the environment. Both national and international bodies have been established to ensure that the environment is conserved and the all activities that go on within it do not affect it.

2.2.2. Construction projects and the environment

Construction projects continue to be important in the world today. Man leaves a mark behind in terms of construction. Thus, construction projects have been in existence for quite a long period of time (Han, Yusof, Ismail, & Aun, 2012). During this period, the projects have generated a lot of debate as concerns their influence on the environment. It is easy to see the impacts of these construction projects on the environment as the magnitude and extend is visible. Large construction projects contribute greatly to environmental issues including soil erosion, water and air pollution among others. The continued impact of these effects on the environment is high necessitating a closer examination of the ways in which such can be prevented (Halpin & Senior, 2010).

During the implementation of all the building specification, the planning and making decisions of where and how to build, the effects of establishing the construction project should be considered in a degree of seriousness that it deserves. There is a serious need to conserve the natural environment and also to carry out continuous development in order to better peoples’ lives. If the environmental influence on completion of construction projects is estimated scientifically and objectively, then contractors will ensure that construction is done in the right manner and therefore the protection of the environment will be assured (Songer & Molenaar 1997)

Environmental conservation and protection is an important agenda across the globe. In the Asian continent, countries are faced with serious environmental setbacks as they strife to grow their economies. Specifically, it is recognised that the construction industry has significant impact on the environment. Environmental assessment, environmental audits and management systems can be used in good ways to prevent pollution during the construction process (Atkinson, 1999). Also, Nitz & Holland (2000) suggest that governments should increase their efforts in environmental management rather than relying on the industry to make their own innovations. This has seen a lot of environmental conservation bodies come up with laws, campaigns, policies and other activities in the name of environmental conservation.

Building constructions consume a lot of energy and non-renewable resources and also produce large amounts of pollutants like air emissions, noise, water pollution and solid waste discharge (Cole, 2000). Although environmental issues associated with construction of buildings are included in the environmental assessment methods, they are normally not covered comprehensively and consistently (Chen, Li & Wong, 2005). In fact Cole (2000), notes that the impact of construction is in most cases assessed only by the presence or absence of environmental regulations.


Excerpt out of 49 pages


The Influence of the Environment on the Successful Completion of Construction Projects
A Case Study of Dubai Skyscrapers
The University of Chicago
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
803 KB
influence, environment, successful, completion, construction, projects, case, study, dubai, skyscrapers
Quote paper
Kethy Abraham (Author), 2010, The Influence of the Environment on the Successful Completion of Construction Projects, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Influence of the Environment on the Successful Completion of Construction Projects

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free