School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

Development of Key Performance Indicators to Influence Contractors' Carbon Reduction Behaviour

Suhaib is an enthusiastic civil and environmental engineer with interests in applying the principles of waste management, circular economy, and sustainability to different sectors of the economy. He is currently completing a doctoral research where he is utilising the principle of performance measurement system and grounded theory to develop a carbon management protocol that will drive carbon reduction during building construction process and serve as a carbon performance tool for contractors. He holds a Distinction in MSc (Eng) Environmental Engineering and Project Management.

Suhaib looks at the camera, background is plain

Tell us a bit about yourself and your path into the PhD program

Prior to moving to Leeds in 2019, I was working as an Operations Manager in an oil and gas trading firm in the United Arab Emirates and was running a waste management social enterprise on a part-time basis. However, I have always wanted to pursue a postgraduate degree in Environmental Engineering due to my deep interest in waste management and the environment generally. Hence, when I was awarded the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship in 2019 to study MSc (Eng) Environmental Engineering and Project Management at the University of Leeds, it was an offer I could not resist. During my master’s programme, I knew I still wanted to do a PhD within the environment space. Therefore, when I was made aware of the construction carbon reduction PhD research at the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing (BEEC) at Leeds Beckett University, it seemed like a great opportunity for me, based on my background as a civil and environmental engineer.

Why did you choose Leeds Beckett?

One of the things that drew me to Leeds Beckett was my current doctoral research opportunity as it was advertised then. I saw from the advert that it was going to involve working with the industry and this has been my goal as I have always loved the convergence of the gown and town because I believe there has to be a level of collaboration between the research community and industry to ensure that the solutions provided by academics are readily applicable in the business world. Apart from this, I have always been fascinated by the design and structure of the university’s city centre campus buildings and have looked forward to being a part of the community.

What is your research about and what makes you passionate about it?

My doctoral research is looking at developing key performance indicators that will drive contractors to reduce the carbon footprint of construction projects. This is very important at this time when the world is facing a major climate crisis, with governments across the world developing policies and industries putting together strategies to drive down their carbon emissions. I will say the research is quite dynamic since carbon reduction requires a multipronged approach in achieving the desired result and a lot of stakeholders (industry practitioners, policy makers and researchers) keep pushing various agendas which as a doctoral researcher, I have to keep myself abreast of to ensure that I capture all opinions that might have an impact on my research. This makes the research interesting and worthy to pursue.

How have you applied what you’ve learned from your work at the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing?

Since commencing my PhD study six months ago, I have presented a poster on "Contractors' Carbon Reduction Behaviour during Construction Project" at the School’s Doctoral Symposium which was well accepted and aroused a lot of debate. Also, I will be presenting a papertagged, "The Role of Contractors in Reducing Carbon during Construction" which again is a result of my doctoral research at the International SEEDS conference hosted by Leeds Sustainability Institute (which is part of the School) in September. I have also extended the learnings from my research beyond the School and presented part of my research work to different stakeholders within the construction industry and research community including being on the expert panel with industry leaders from YORhub, Willmott Dixon, and Kier at the YORhub Sustainability webinar with participants from different UK government stakeholders including city councils, major contractors in the UK, and consultancy firms.

Furthermore, I got a scholarship to attend a Green Building Solutions Summer School hosted by the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria to further strengthen and complement my research work. I believe the learnings from this summer school programme combined with those gained from my research work and interaction with the industry will assist me to take on teaching responsibility within the School. This will allow me to contribute to knowledge dissemination if and when the opportunity arises, whilst strengthening partnerships with the industry by deploying the findings of my research.

What has been your favourite experience at Leeds Beckett? How would you reflect on your time as a postgraduate researcher at Leeds Beckett?

I enjoy the training programmes being organised by the Graduate School as they have really served as a means of enlightenment and assisted in developing my research skills, especially those related to grounded theory, which up until starting my PhD at Leeds Beckett were relatively unknown to me. I equally appreciate the willing nature of the university staff to help, irrespective of whether they are in BEEC or not.

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