Lean Construction A Guide to Sustainable Way of Building
Lean Construction A Guide to Sustainable Way of Building

Lean Construction: A Guide to Sustainable Way of Building


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When you think of the word sustainability, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is eco-friendly practices, renewable resources, and our environment. However, being sustainable is not limited to those categories. It can also apply to social, economic, and corporate practices globally, with the life of our future generations on the line.

Having a sustainable business means setting up a comprehensive way of doing operations, keeping the possible negative impact on the environment in mind. In our industry, one way to achieve this is to eliminate all the unnecessary details. As a project manager, you can apply lean principles in the project management of construction. These can result in lower costs and fewer delays, helping you satisfy your client’s expectations.

In this blog, we will be discussing its importance and why you should consider applying lean principles for your next project. Read on to find out!



What is the difference between the traditional and lean ways of managing construction?

Most contractors still use the traditional way of construction, focusing on the result of the project rather than the relationship of the activities and processes involved. In this method, it is the duty of the project manager to manage and deliver the project by strategizing and handling all aspects based solely on what the client wants and expects. 

On the other hand, the lean process focuses on devising a standard operating system to minimize all possible expenses such as time, money, and effort – without compromising the quality of the project. This approach focuses on the question, the how-to construct instead of the what-to construct. We can do this through the combined efforts of all parties involved – the contractor, subcontractor, and clients during the early planning stages of the project.

We are not saying that the traditional way is in the wrong. But applying lean principles to your management style can help you and your business in the long run by making it more sustainable and more efficient. Are you getting interested now? Read on to find out more. 



The next question that you might have in mind is where, when, and how to start utilizing the lean way of managing construction. Take note that there is no predetermined approach to this, but we have listed out five basic principles to help you jumpstart your way:


The first and most important step, to begin with, is to set a coordination meeting with the entire team to plan out the project from start to finish. In this stage, we need clearly define what the client wants and expects to successfully baseline a project. We should be able to identify the scope of works, cost or budget, and the scheduling in construction. 


You should have a clear understanding of what the client wants and expects for project deliverables. From there, plan out the value stream of the project. 

The value stream can be done by mapping out all the steps necessary to deliver the project. For each stage, you should define all the materials, labor, services, and other components needed. Any unnecessary or redundant factors will be removed. 

In this way, everyone in the project team can provide insights or suggestions for each activity to improve the project’s processes and flow.  


In lean, we always aim to minimize any form of wastage. This step is needed to improve the flow and the management of the project. For this section, we listed eight types of wastes in a construction projection and tips on how you can eliminate them.


Construction defects are flaws in the construction management process, safety, and failure of the structure or financial damages to the client and contractor. There are three major categories of construction defects: 

  • Design Defects 

These defects usually result from errors or blunders during the release of trade plans from the consultant. Usually, the contractor is the one that discovered this during the construction. Often, this results in multiple change orders and requires additional material and labor for rectification.

  • Material Defects

Usually, a material defect is found by the contractor when already used in the project. Substandard items used in the project can cause significant problems. Replacing the items usually takes days or weeks once reported, causing further delays. 

  • Workmanship Defects

Workmanship Defects are flaws that often stem from the poor execution of the workers in the activities stage. Usually, these happen during the interior and exterior finishing stages, such as uneven paint and bubbles, uneven wall and ceiling finishing, leaking roof, backflows, or faulty electrical wiring and plumbing systems. 


The construction industry is well-known for generating lots of production waste – scrap materials, packaging wastes, and construction and excavation debris. Some tips to help reduce production waste are reducing construction mistakes, choosing sustainable materials with minimal packaging, and trying out new construction methods and techniques.


Everyone in the construction industry knows delays are inevitable, poor weather, error in the deliveries, shortage of labor – to name a few. Some causes of delays are unforeseen and out of our hands. Still, this can result in huge losses for both client and contractor. 

Many digital innovations and modern technologies are available in the world right now. Why not maximize it for your business? Using construction scheduling software is a great way to manage these delays and to get back on track. Office to field communication is now simpler and easier for you to identify any potential problems and eliminate them immediately.  


Being a project manager, one of the most daunting tasks is construction crew management. Construction crews are composed of a large group of workers with their specialties. Unproductivity in construction is often due to a lack of recognition and no opportunities for career development, to name a few. Knowing where and when to place the right people for the right job is no easy feat. Knowing your employees – including all their skills and their professional attitude towards work is one tool to boost their productivity.


In a nutshell, transportation waste is the movement of materials and equipment not utilized efficiently. Examples of this are materials delivered too early or too late, double handling and incomplete deliveries, and mistakes in transportation. One way to do so is to plan the schedule of deliveries while incorporating the lead times, and possibilities of delay is a must to manage transportation wastes. 


Inventory wastes in construction happen when:

  1. The materials ordered are more than what is required
  2. Unusable materials due to changes in the specification
  3. Substandard or material defect
  4. Overproduction or fabrication of a material

Using inventory management software can aid you in auditing materials, managing deliveries, tracking lead times, and analyzing the individual performances of suppliers. Helping you to ensure that your project will be able to run smoothly.


Like transportation wastes, movement wastes are also the unnecessary movements of materials, equipment, and people. However, this is limited to only within the worksite. One way to manage this is to organize the workflow and processes and schedule when a particular item needs to be in the area. 


Process wastes are steps that are often redundant or not needed in the project workflow. These relate to the administration and management works that require redundant emails, routing of approvals, or document sharing. Using online construction software, you can eliminate all this unnecessary legwork by keeping and uploading all your documents in the cloud, accessible to everyone in the team. 



An organized workflow process is done by clearly sequencing all activities required for the project to ensure that the construction is smooth sailing. You will be able to see the relationship of the activities to one another. Strategize ahead to ensure that the processes will be continuous and uninterrupted. It can give you an insight into how the project is performing, your productivity rates, and how efficient your project is doing. 



Finally, as discussed earlier in this blog, lean management is about continuously improving the processes. We aim to create a system that is sustainable in the long run. For each project that you take, there is always room for improvement:

  1. Improved communication between all parties
  2. Increased productivity and team morale
  3. Better inventory and scheduling management
  4. Reduced costs and inefficiencies
  5. Improved overall project results

 You can always learn new ways to improve your management style and make things easier for you and your team. 


Lean management aims to create an efficient and standard process for managing your construction project, resulting in increased productivity, efficiency, and improved overall results. Eliminating all those redundant processes and wastes will make your business sustainable and profitable in the long run, which keeping your clients satisfied. 

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