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About Stanford Sustainable Design and Construction Program

Program focus

Our Construction Program focuses on the design and management of construction project organizations, processes and methods to enable the creation and operation of facilities that are:

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

Our research and curriculum emphasize 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. Arming professionals with this knowledge and new methods makes it feasible to meet the construction challenges of the coming decades. 

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. Yet this simply passed a number of concerns and problems downstream for subsequent stakeholders to worry about.

A restrictive project envelope

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

High environmental impact

Buildings are responsible for approximately 50 percent of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas production and similarly dramatic volumes of wastewater and solid-waste production. With this kind of impact, it has become increasingly clear that taking a fresh approach to construction projects can enable a significant reduction in the harmful effect of the built environment upon the natural environment while 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 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, ecological 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 these problems.

Broadening the project envelope

Three E’s can be fully optimized only when we account for the full life cycle of a construction project and its stakeholders along the timeline of its design, funding, development, operation, use and reuse.

All three degree tracks in the Construction Program focus on sustainable development to do 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.