4Es and 4Poles model of sustainability: Redefining sustainability in the built environment

George Agyekum-Mensah, Andrew Knight, Christopher Coffey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


– The paper is conceptual in nature and explores the role and function of project management in the achievement of sustainability in the built environment by developing a 4Es (Economic, Effectiveness, Efficiency and Ethics) and 4 Poles (Economic, Social, Environmental and Technology) model of sustainability. The study also identifies that the existing debates on sustainability seem to marginalise project management's positive contributions to sustainable construction, as well as the importance of technology in the sustainability agenda.

– The paper consists of a literature review on the concept of sustainability, the contribution of the built environment to the sustainability problem, and an intellectual discussion of a proposed model for achieving sustainable development in the built environment. The body of this paper is divided into three sections: part one reviews “what is sustainability”, part two discusses the current state of sustainability including the importance of technology, and part three discusses the 4Es and 4 Poles model.

– This research establishes the importance of technology in the sustainable development agenda. The paper proposes a 4Es (project management model) and 4 Poles (poles or factors of sustainability) model as a holistic approach to achieving sustainable construction. In addition, this paper proposes an extension to the definition of sustainable construction or development, as the existing definitions seem to be vague.

Research limitations/implications
– This research paper focuses only on sustainability in the built environment and sustainable development with reference to project management.

Practical implications
– The proposed model uses a project management approach, which does not allow trade‐offs, but promotes integration of the 4 Poles. This will contribute to the achievement of sustainable construction at every level of a project or organisation.

– The proposed model is new within project management and the built environment. It also promotes technology as a core factor in achieving sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-442
Number of pages17
JournalStructural Survey
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Construction works
  • Project management
  • Sustainable development
  • Built environment
  • Sustainability
  • Technology
  • 4Es
  • 4 Poles


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