The Materials Book

36 6 What Is the Labor Cost? Making materials and assembling them requires labor. In evaluating material choice, the working conditions for producing a material should be part of the equation, from raw-material extraction to the factory and construction site. Even materials that look and perform identically may have been produced under wildly different conditions. Workers have the right to a safe, equitable, and healthy work environment, and workers should be employed with a living wage, health care, and fair contracts; materials produced without these conditions are not sustainable. In the construction industry, however, these conditions are often not met—most construction work worldwide is carried out as day labor or under temporary or informal contracts. 1 The place where work for a construction site comes from should also be considered. If construction creates employment within the community, projects have an immediate local benefit through the influx of wages and the potential introduction of new skills. If work is done remotely or workers have been transported to the site, under what conditions has it been conducted, and on what grounds? 1 Jill Wells, “Informality in the Construction Sector in Developing Countries,” Construction Management 25, no.1 (2007): 87–93.

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