My research project
Erica Russell is a Doctoral Practitioner within the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) at the University of Surrey. Her research builds on the systems-based thinking of the Centre, especially its pioneering work on the development of lifecycle approaches, and applies this to the role of the main contractor within the construction sector. The title of the doctoral thesis is ‘Leading Role or Bit Player? Main contractors, supply chain and sustainable construction’. The doctoral thesis will be submitted in March 2019.
Erica has worked in various roles in industry for 30 years, both in public companies and in other private sector businesses. She has spent the last 9 years working with partners and businesses within the UK and Europe to integrate Sustainable Business practices into ‘normal’ business advice. This included a major UK Government programme piloted by the South East Regional Development Agency (2007-2010) in which sustainability was embedded into Business Link and advisors trained, metrics developed and over 20,000 companies were directly engaged on relevant ‘sustainability actions’. Recently she has led or contributed to several EU projects working on the circular economy and SMEs, understanding and communicating sustainability in business, understanding the role of innovation in small companies and the development of an online innovation platform.
Erica completed her Masters in Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey in 2010.
Affiliations and memberships
I am interested in how we can translate complex sustainability issues into existing business structures to engender effective action. This work incorporates research areas such as life cycle thinking, the role of decision making in wicked problems and behavioural change.
I am a member of the construction industry's Supply Chain Schools' Horizon Group. The group offer a dynamic interface between the construction sector and academic institutions. They provide a forum where academic research can be presented to industry practitioners and they facilitate the development of construction member insight into 'real word' sustainability as research opportunities for academics and students.
In previous projects I have collaborated with TU Delft, University of Dublin, University of Ghent, University of Lancaster, University of Brighton, University of Kent, and Anglia Ruskin University.
Decisions in the Construction Sector?, Sustainability 10 (3) 629 MDPI
end products over short time scales. Sustainability has increased in importance but continues to
be difficult to implement in this sector; thus, new approaches and practices are needed. This paper
reports an empirical investigation into the value of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
especially Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG12), when used as a framework for action
by organisations to drive change towards sustainability in global supply networks. Through inductive
research, two different and contrasting approaches to improving the sustainability of supply networks
have been revealed. One approach focuses on the ?bottom up? ethical approach typified by the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of timber products, and the other on ?top-down?
regulations exemplified by the UK Modern Slavery Act. In an industry noted for complex supply
networks and characterised by adversarial relationships, the findings suggest that, in the long term,
promoting shared values aligned with transparent, third-party monitoring will be more effective
than imposing standards through legislation and regulation in supporting sustainable consumption
UK Green Building Council Blog, 18th December 2018.
Construction industry research and information association (CIRIA) Guide, June 2017 (contributor)
UK Green Building Council Guide, 21st September 2017 (member of project team)