Erica Russell

Dr Erica Russell


Doctoral Practitioner
Doctoral Practitioner, BSc, MSc Sustainable Development with Distinction

Academic and research departments

Centre for Environment and Sustainability.

My research project

Affiliations and memberships

Institute of Environmental Management Association
Practitioner (PIEMA)
Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing (FRSA)
Fellow

Research

Research interests

Research collaborations

My publications

Publications

Russell E, Lee J, Clift R (2018) Can the SDGs Provide a Basis for Supply Chain
Decisions in the Construction Sector?,
Sustainability 10 (3) 629 MDPI
The Construction sector is characterised by complex supply networks delivering unique
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
and production.
Driven by increased urbanisation, construction of buildings and infrastructure continues to grow worldwide, further exacerbating the social and environmental impacts created by this sector. Large scale projects, requiring thousands of component parts and globally sourced materials, flow across supply networks to construct built assets. Embodied within these supply networks are minerals, energy, water, labour, waste, modern slavery and other human rights abuses. This thesis focuses on the UK construction industry and the ability of the main contractor, a key procurer of materials and manager of the build process, to affect the sustainability of the final asset. This research is case study based on unprecedented access to staff and key suppliers of a major UK main contractor, Carillion plc. The work is an holistic approach to sustainability, incorporating both social and environmental lifecycle thinking, sustainable supply chain theory, and the fields of stakeholder and collaborative working. Applying grounded theory methodology, four major themes emerge from this inductive research; fragmentation, the role of focal nodes, inter- and intra-company collaboration and knowledge of sustainability. Set within the context of a lifecycle perspective they define the ability of the main contractor to directly implement or influence sustainable build. The research develops theory uniting economic equity, network actor perspective and life stage impacts. The findings demonstrate that operating within current unsustainable business models the main contractor can only play a bit role. Additionally, it provides the basis for recommendations on business model, policy and process change.

Additional publications