UH-Tarmac sustainable living

UH-Tarmac Sustainable Living Partnership Research

The University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit is undertaking research into Supporting innovation and best practice in the materials supply chain, communicating and learning with suppliers and end-users. This £150,000 research project aims to explore and understand purchasing decision-making processes and contexts in the construction industry supply chain, and the impact of these on the demand for sustainable building products.

This research project follows the successful conclusion, in April 2015, of Tarmac-funded research into sustainable living in master planned communities, undertaken by Associate Professor Susan Parham, Associate Professor Alasdair Jones and Dr John McCormack.

Find out more about our Tarmac-funded research into sustainable living in master planned communities.

Led by Associate Professor Susan Parham the research involves a range of methods to explore sustainability decision making in the materials supply chain. It is being conducted by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit. The research is focusing on experience of these issues in the United Kingdom. It is overseen by an Industry Advisory Group which was established through the University of Hertfordshire-­Tarmac Sustainable Living Partnership specifically to advise on this research. It is managed day to day by a smaller Management Group drawn from the University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit and Tarmac.

There are a number of primary data sources for the research. These include semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in materials supply chains. These were undertaken as part of developing case studies focused on housing, major transport infrastructure, urban renewal activity and sports related developments. Interviews have been conducted with materials specifiers including engineers, architects, urban designers, building designers, quantity surveyors and value engineers; decision makers from a range of managerial roles in the supply chain; clients from a range of different examples across sectors; and Tier 1 contractors (that is, the main contractors on a project). There is also some data reviewed from expert interviews, an online survey, and initial fieldwork piloting results. A second online questionnaire is shortly to go live. There is also be an international, comparative dimension to the project, with interviews involving actors in the construction industry supply chain and experts internationally.


The project is now progressing towards its concluding stages with final field work of interviews and online survey now underway. The briefing notes in the list below, summarises the ‘direction of travel.

Briefing notes

Find out more about supporting innovation and best practice in the materials supply chain.