The poll - conducted by Mori for environmental lobbyist Envirowise - also shows that as few as 18 per cent of the UK's building firms see cutting back on waste as very important for their companies.
The research shows that waste is a significant problem, estimating that there are 13 million tonnes of completely unused building materials discarded every year.
Envirowise programme director Martin Gibson said there was a genuine problem in the construction industry. 'It is clear that there are huge savings to be made in the construction sector, both financial and environmental,' he said.
'This is particularly relevant at the moment, as the high price of oil is threatening to increase the cost of basic materials like bricks.
'Our aim is to work with construction firms to help them see the benefit of improved resource efficiency, so that they can start to make savings immediately,' Gibson added.
Some 51 small- and medium-sized construction firms were polled and interviews were carried out between 23 May and 3 June.