Laura’s Research Project Outline

Laura Novich

Environmental Behavior Research


Research Question:  Examining the supply chain of a small sustainable building materials manufacturer, how does the supply chain break down by cost and environmental impact at each step? How are these elements of the supply chain conveyed to consumers, if at all?

Literature Review:  Irland explains how wood products that are cut from sustainable, certified forests are not being recognized as such due to lack of comprehension in the multi level supply chains and why this happens. It is important to understand the facts of where a system is failing in order to repair the problems. They did this by analyzing data that they had from the different parts of wood supply chains. Their key findings were that it is hard to market wood as certified through all the levels of supply chain. They explored those problems to help approach the situation and make the marketing of certified wood more apparent.

Zou and Couani explain how the new methods of green building can have an effect on the supply chain of companies and what risks they faced. This is important because understanding and addressing those problems could help promote and expand the industry. They sent out 250 questionnaires to professionals in Australia with 93 sent back, but only 91 valid. Their key findings were that it seemed possible to improve the green building industry, but there is a definite need for further research and development, education, experience, knowledge sharing and technology. The summary argument is that there was a general “lack of commitment in the supply chain to go green” and that there were financial risks companies felt were a result from green building.

Da Rocha and Sattler argue how materials can be recycled and reused after construction, because the construction industry produces the greatest amount of waste and, thus, causes severe environmental problems. This is an important task because it will help create a more sustainable production model for others to use. The authors did a single embedded case study by taking available data from Porto Alegre, Brazil and analyzing it. They found through the data and their own supply chain management approach that economical and social factors, and not just the lower socio-economic class, support the reuse of building materials.   The summary argument is that by using their supply chain management approach, they can use it for “close loop” supply chains.

Koletnik, Lukman and Krajnc explain how the European Council enforced new recycling laws for demolition and construction, setting a goal of at least 70% of construction waste be recycled by 2020.  The authors did a case study of the construction waste from roads in Slovenia. They took the data that was available and analyzed it, concluding the environmental impacts of the waste. Their key findings were that the construction of new roads has the most severe environmental impacts based on their toxicities and other chemical harms, followed by waste processing and then demolition.

Methods: I plan to use interviews and analyze data from archival research. Personal interviews will give me the most insight into a company and how it runs from a first hand account. Archival research will give me the qualitative information that companies published versus actual numbers and information.

Topic Importance: This topic interests me because I see a huge need for transparency in construction product manufacturers that claim to be sustainable. It is easy for an average consumer to believe good marketing declaring to be green, but it is another thing to be able to see deeper into the truth and come to your own decision. Materials are the backbone of sustainable design and it is misleading for designers that so many companies pretend to be more sustainable then they are.

Works Cited:

da Rocha, Cecillia Gravina, and Miguel Aloysio Sattler. 2009. “A Discussion on the Reuse of Building Components in Brazil: An Analysis of Major Social, Economical and Legal Factors.” Resources, Conservation and Recycling 54 (2) (December): 104–112.

Irland, Lloyd C. 2007. “Developing Markets for Certified Wood Products.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 11 (2): 201–216.

Koletnik, Damijan, Rebeka Lukman, and Damjan Krajnc. 2012. “Environmental Management of Waste Based on Road Construction Materials.” Environmental Research, Engineering & Management 59 (1): 42–46.

Zou, Patrick X. W., and Paul Couani. 2012. “Managing Risks in Green Building Supply Chain.” Architectural Engineering & Design Management 8 (2): 143–158.


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About lnovich

Laura Novich is a M.A. Candidate in the Sustainable Interior Environments Program at the Fashion Institute of Technology SUNY, and works as a Materials Researcher at Material ConneXion. Her research and design focus is sustainable, recycled materials for use in construction and their production. She graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in Environmental Science. She enjoys baking, the Food Network and dogs.

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