Based on the consideration of the relative importance of sustainability-related objectives and the inherent nature of sustainable construction projects, this study proposes that the contractor can balance the levels of efforts and resources used to improve the overall project sustainability. A multi-objective trade-off model using game theory was established and verified through simulation and numerical example under a moral hazard situation. Results indicate that effort levels of the contractor on sustainability-related objectives are positively related to the outcome coefficient while negatively to the coefficients of effort cost of the relevant objectives. High levels of the relative importance of sustainability-related objectives contribute to high levels of effort of the contractor. With the variation in effort levels and the coefficient of benefit allocation, the project net benefit increases before declining. The function of project benefit has a marked peak value, with an inverted “U” shape. An equilibrium always exists as for the given relative importance and coefficients of the effort costs of sustainability-related objectives. Under this condition, the owner may offer the contractor a less intense incentive and motivate the contractor reasonably arranging input resources. The coefficient of benefit allocation is affected by the contractor characteristic factors and the project characteristic factors. The owner should balance these two types of factors and select the most appropriate incentive mechanism to improve the project benefit. Meanwhile, the contractor can balance the relative importance of the objectives and arrange the appropriate levels of effort and resources to achieve a sustainability-related objective. Very few studies have emphasized the effects of the relative importance of sustainability-related objectives on the benefits of sustainable construction projects. This study therefore builds a multi-objective trade-off model to bridge this research gap. This study sheds significant theoretical and practical insights regarding the objective management of sustainability-related objectives, as well as insights into the improvement of performance in sustainable construction projects.
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