Constructions and buildings can contribute significantly to the realisation of sustainable developments. Recent research related to the construction industry is focusing on the increasing concerns related to the usage of natural resources (i.e. water, wood, energy, material) as well as to the production of significant amount of CO2 emission. Additionally, several types of environmental pollutions have been reported during he life cycle of a construction project. Lack of attention to the sector of green construction operation is likely to results in serious environmental problems, therefore the construction industry should be alert to these risks as well as cautious of sustainable alternatives to improve its ecological and social footmark.
Sustainable construction and Leadership
Although leadership has been outlined as success factor for the effective performance of an organization, there is still limited research on the relationship between leadership behaviour of project managers and especially managers in the construction industry. These leaders should have the skills set to endorse a positive culture towards sustainable development. In a recent study (Hwang and Ng 2013) explored the challengers in green construction projects and they identified in the study the knowledge areas and the skills that a project manager should have to meet the challenges of sustainable development. However, leadership style and competencies of sustainable project managers needs to be further explored for their statistical relationship with project success criteria.
Leader competencies and success criteria for sustainable Building projects
The Malaysian Institute of Architects formed a Sustainability Committee which was established mainly to develop the Green Building Index (GBI) and the related section for accreditation and certification of green-rated buildings in August 2008. The GBI Building rating tools assess the sustainability of buildings based on six key criteria as demonstrated in Table 1 below. Consequently, these specific set of guidelines were employed to measure the success criteria that project mangers attained in their green building projects.
Table 1: Key criteria for evaluating success sustainable building construction used for this study
Energy Efficiency (EE)
Indoor Environment Quality (EQ)
Sustainable Site Planning & Management (SM)
Materials and Resources (MR)
Water Efficiency (WE)
The above-mentioned criteria can motivate developers and building users to consider the environmental quality of buildings and related inhabitants via improved site selection, conditions to attain access to public transportation, improved local community services and connectivity as well as improved infrastructure facilities.
Leaders in the organization tends to be the key driving force to endorse sustainability in the industry. Therefore, in view of the analysis, the current study targets to explore the impact of intellectual and managerial capabilities of the leader on the success of a sustainable building project. Therefore:
Hypothesis 1: Leader intellectual competence is positively related to the success criteria of the projects.
Hypothesis 2: Leader managerial competence is positively related to the success criteria of the projects.
Transformational leaders have been found to promote project efficiency. Transformational leaders are those who exhibit individualised consideration behaviour and can influence subordinate’s reactions, which can lead to effective employee performance. Transformational leaders aim to influence employees so that can go beyond their status quo, to improve, innovate and adopt in the team environment. One of the variable of sustainability is social concerns, therefore transformational leadership is a humanistic way to manage employees and has been regarded to be assessed among the project managers in sustainable building industry/projects.
Application of the transformational leadership in sustainable societies as an area which is essential for professional and researchers to come up with necessary local regional and global changes on the way to sustainable growth therefore:
Hypothesis 3: The transformational leadership behaviour of the project manager is positively related to the success criteria of the projects.
This study evaluated the leadership behaviour and the effectiveness of transformational leadership of the project managers in sustainable building projects based on works of Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) and Daft and Pirola-Merlo (2009).
Table 2: Ten leadership competencies and qualities assessed by the research
-Critical analysis and
– Vision and imagination
– Strategic perspective
Dulewicz and Higgs
– Resource management
– Engaging communication
Dulewicz and Higgs
-Develops followers into leaders
– Inspire followers to go beyond
their own interest
Daft and Pirola-Merlo
Research methodology and Data Analysis
This study propose that the leadership behaviour and transformational leadership qualities of project manager can play an important in project management, and that understanding of leadership behaviour effects the success criteria of a sustainable development of a project. The research applies partial least square (PLS) method to assess the hierarchal hypothesised model in sustainable building projects.
For data collection, a survey of questionnaires was distributed among the project managers of a sustainable projects. 5-point scale questionnaire was used. Afterwards, nonparametric bootstrapping was applied with 200 replications to obtain the standard estimate errors.
The participants include 70 project managers from those projects which were certified by the GBI assessment of Malaysia. Three research officers were sent to companies in different locations in large cities in Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru to deliver the questionnaires to the relevant respondents and to collect them for data analysis. Out of all the managers 65.7 percent were male and 34.3 % were female. the percentage of different races were, Malay 28.6%, Chinese 64.3%, Indian 4.3% and other races 2.9%. Additionally, on experienced level of project managers 20% has 1-5 years of experience, 15.7% has 6-10 years of experience, and 64.3% had more than 11 years of experience in the field. Regarding level of education, 88.6% had bachelors degree of higher and 11.4 percent had acquired a diploma from junior college.