Towards a Viable Supply Chain Cluster in the Sustainable Buildings Industry

Towards a Viable Supply Chain Cluster in the Sustainable Buildings Industry


Emily Ryan, Matthew Pepper, Albert Munoz and Paul Cooper

Organisation of Presenter:

University of Wollongong, Australia


Sustainability considerations are inherent in the residential building industry at present and are significant beyond material use and building design. Sustainability policy considerations must encapsulate the entire supply chain, in such a way that residential buildings, including the products used within them are designed, sourced, built and maintained in a process that is sustainable for both the environment and longevity of the supply chain. In order to achieve a well-managed supply chain it is important to consider the way in which we source materials and technologies to support our sustainability endeavours. Geographically proximate supply chain partners in a cluster system encourage regional development, improved research and development and improvements to the residential building sector. Taking a systems perspective Causal Loop Diagrams are used to model the causal relationships between system influences including the driving forces for the formation and long term viability of supply chain clusters in the sustainable buildings industry. Focus groups are conducted to develop these Causal Loop Diagrams and aim to facilitate a greater understanding of the causal relationships founded in systems thinking.
The research methodology involves providing a focus group with a problem description that outlines the system to be mapped. Participants are then asked to put forward their thoughts on the factors influencing cluster development. Links between the variables are connected to represent their causal relationships. This iterative process continues until participants are satisfied the system is mapped. Following the session the researcher identifies the feedback loops and uses this data to highlight key leverage points driving the formation and longevity of a cluster in the industry.
Preliminary research has involved development of Causal Loop Diagrams in focus groups made up of researchers in the sustainable buildings industry. Participants had the opportunity to identify forces to include in the model and discuss through reiteration after comparisons with a secondary group. The main study is engaging stakeholders within the sustainable buildings industry in the local region, including government, industry and regional associations. Findings will be used to inform policy recommendations regarding supply chain decision-making and policy development in support of cluster formation and long term viability.