The Evolving Role of Quantity Surveyors in Sustainable Construction

Sustainability is a recurring topic in the construction industry, and it holds significant importance for quantity surveyors. As the demand for housing increases with population growth, the construction of approximately 34,000 houses annually for the next decade becomes crucial. This emphasizes the necessity for sustainable construction practices. Quantity surveyors play a vital role in the construction process, not only in minimizing costs but also in promoting sustainability.

What does sustainable construction entail? It goes beyond creating buildings with low environmental impact; it aims to improve construction methods and enhance the quality of life for occupants.

Within the construction industry, it is essential to consider the substantial amount of materials and resources needed for a project. Furthermore, we must address the building’s maintenance requirements, as well as the waste and emissions generated throughout its lifespan.

What is the Job of a Quantity Surveyor? 

The job of a quantity surveyor, also known as a construction cost consultant or commercial manager, involves a range of responsibilities throughout the various stages of a construction project. Here are some key aspects of a quantity surveyor’s job:

1. Cost Estimation and Budgeting

Quantity surveyors are responsible for estimating the costs associated with construction projects. They assess the project requirements, prepare detailed cost estimates, provide a detailed quantity surveyor report,  and create budgets to ensure that the project aligns with the client’s financial expectations.

2. Procurement and Contract Management

Quantity surveyors assist in the procurement process by preparing tender documents, evaluating contractor bids, and negotiating contracts. They play a crucial role in selecting contractors and suppliers and ensuring that contractual terms are favourable and protective of the client’s interests.

3. Cost Control and Financial Management

Quantity surveyors monitor project costs throughout the construction phase. They track expenses, manage variations, and provide financial reports to keep stakeholders informed about the project’s financial performance. They work to ensure that the project stays within budget and advise on cost-saving measures when necessary.

4. Value Engineering and Value Management

Quantity surveyors contribute to value engineering exercises, which involve analyzing project elements to identify opportunities for cost optimization without compromising quality. They collaborate with the design and construction teams to find innovative solutions that provide the best value for the client.

5. Risk Management

Quantity surveyors assess and manage financial risks associated with construction projects. They identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, ensuring that the project’s financial interests are protected.

6. Contract Administration

Quantity surveyors are involved in administering construction contracts, including interpreting contract terms, managing claims and variations, and ensuring compliance with contractual obligations. They help resolve disputes and facilitate effective communication among project stakeholders.

7. Final Account Settlement

At the conclusion of a project, quantity surveyors finalize the accounts by assessing the final costs, evaluating any variations, and preparing the final payment certificates. They ensure that all financial matters are properly resolved and that final payments are accurately calculated.

8. Sustainability and Environmental Considerations

Quantity surveyors contribute to sustainable construction practices by considering environmental factors and promoting sustainable materials and technologies. They assess the environmental impact of construction activities and suggest measures to minimize carbon footprint and enhance sustainability.

Overall, a quantity surveyor’s job involves managing construction project costs, providing financial advice, ensuring value for money, and mitigating risks. They play a crucial role in ensuring that construction projects are delivered within budget, adhere to contractual requirements, and meet the client’s financial objectives.

How Does a Quantity Surveyor Improve Sustainability?

A quantity surveyor plays a crucial role in improving sustainability in construction projects by implementing various strategies and practices. Here are some ways in which quantity surveyors contribute to sustainability:

1. Life Cycle Cost Analysis

Quantity surveyors consider the life cycle costs of a project, including construction, operation, and maintenance. By evaluating the long-term costs, they can identify sustainable solutions that minimize energy consumption, reduce maintenance expenses, and enhance the overall lifecycle performance of the building.

2. Material Selection and Waste Reduction

Quantity surveyors can influence material selection by considering sustainable options that have a minimal environmental impact. They promote the use of recycled materials, sustainable sourcing practices, and waste reduction strategies to minimize the project’s carbon footprint and promote resource efficiency.

3. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Quantity surveyors can evaluate and recommend energy-efficient technologies and systems to reduce energy consumption in buildings. They assess the cost-effectiveness of incorporating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, into the project, promoting the use of sustainable energy.

4. Green Building Certifications

Quantity surveyors assist in achieving green building certifications, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). They provide expertise in implementing sustainable practices and calculating the environmental performance of the project, ensuring compliance with sustainability standards.

5. Cost-Benefit Analysis of Sustainable Measures

Quantity surveyors evaluate the financial implications of incorporating sustainable features and technologies. They conduct cost-benefit analyses to determine the long-term savings and return on investment of sustainable measures, assisting stakeholders in making informed decisions about sustainable strategies.

6. Waste Management and Recycling

Quantity surveyors promote effective waste management practices on construction sites, encouraging the recycling and responsible disposal of construction waste. By implementing proper waste management plans, they reduce the environmental impact of construction activities and contribute to a more sustainable construction process.

7. Environmental Impact Assessments

Quantity surveyors can assist in conducting environmental impact assessments, identifying potential environmental risks and developing mitigation strategies. They evaluate the project’s environmental impact and provide recommendations for sustainable solutions that minimize negative effects on ecosystems and surrounding communities.

8. Collaborative Approach

Quantity surveyors work closely with architects, engineers, contractors, and other project stakeholders to foster a collaborative approach towards sustainability. They facilitate communication and coordination among various disciplines, ensuring that sustainable practices are integrated into the project design, construction, and operation.

By considering sustainability principles and incorporating sustainable practices throughout the project lifecycle, quantity surveyors contribute to reducing environmental impact, improving energy efficiency, and promoting the overall sustainability of construction projects.