The Construction Programs at Stanford University:

Our Vision for a Sustainable Built Environment


Program Focus

The focus of the Construction Programs is the design and management of construction project organizations, processes and methods so that creation and operation of facilities are:

  • Environmentally sensitive
  • Economically efficient
  • Performance-based
  • Socially equitable

Our research and curriculum emphasizes the study and understanding of the systems and processes of construction with the aim of creating tools and methods that professionals will find easy to use and can readily adopt. Armed with this knowledge and new methods, meeting the construction challenges of the next century becomes feasible.

Consequences of the Traditional Approach

Pushing Problems “Downstream”

Traditional approaches to construction engineering and management focused largely upon the economic aspects of a project: the developer’s economic interest in minimizing costs and maximizing near-term facility sale to an operator, simply passed on a number of concerns and problems downstream for subsequent stakeholders to worry about.

A Restrictive Project Envelope

The interests of these stakeholders, however, can only be minimally influenced after design and construction are complete. A facility’s performance in areas like energy consumption, waste water production and the eventual disposal/recycling of construction materials has largely been pre-determined by design and construction processes that never took them into consideration.

High Environmental Impact

Buildings are responsible for approximately 50% of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas production and similarly dramatic volumes of waste water and solid waste production. With this kind of impact it has become increasingly clear that a significant reduction in the harmful effect of the built environment upon the natural environment can be made by taking a fresh approach to construction projects, while at the same time reaping meaningful economic benefits in the enhanced value of facilities.

E3 – Economy, Ecology and Equity

As the Construction program has evolved and specialized from its original CEM Degree's focus on the construction phase only, through the DCI Degree's focus on design-construction integration, to the SDC Degree's expanded focus on all stakeholders over the life cycle of a facility, we have been guided by consideration for the “Three E’s” as primary drivers for next-generation construction projects.

Our research has shown that is it possible to protect the economic, ecologic and social equity interests that surround construction projects and yield meaningful enhancement in the long-term value of a facility. To do so, though, requires addressing new problems in organization and information management and developing tools and methods that can overcome them.

Broadening the Project Envelope

Only when we begin to take into account the full lifecycle of a construction project and the stakeholders along the timeline of its design, funding, development, operation, use and reuse can the three E’s be fully optimized.

The focus of all three degree tracks in the Construction Program on sustainable development does just that, looking at planning, design, construction, operation, recycling and reuse as a series of processes and organizations with interdependencies, requirements, sequencing and information-sharing that are critical to optimal design.

Explore the pages in this section for more details of the four tracks of the Sustainable Design & Construction Degree that reflect this vision.