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A (UK) European’s perspective on sustainable construction Miles Keeping Oxford Centre for Real Estate Management, School of Architecture Oxford Brookes.

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Presentation on theme: "A (UK) European’s perspective on sustainable construction Miles Keeping Oxford Centre for Real Estate Management, School of Architecture Oxford Brookes."— Presentation transcript:


2 A (UK) European’s perspective on sustainable construction Miles Keeping Oxford Centre for Real Estate Management, School of Architecture Oxford Brookes University

3 Contents/menu  Sustainability  Environmental issues  incl. Investors’ intentions  Environmental assessments & sustainability  Sustainability assessment criteria  Conclusions

4 Sustainability what is it?  It is commonly argued that sustainable development encompasses three issues :  Environmental issues; Social issues; Economic issues  Others argue meanwhile that sustainable development is not so much a three-cornered stool as something with four aspects :  Environment; Equity; Public participation;  Futurity  So what?


6 Environmental issues  There are many examples in the relevant literature of confusion as to the difference between sustainable development and ‘environmental stewardship’.  Whenever one asks questions of investors & developers about ‘sustainability’, they often respond with answers about ‘the environment’.

7 Environmental issues  In a survey of 100 UK investors, developers, bankers and consultants (Parnell & Sayce, 1999): –89% were quite or very concerned about the state of the environment –only 17% felt able to contribute positively to ‘environmentally-friendly’ design on a frequent basis.

8 Environmental issues  Whereas 35% consider rents currently to be affected by ‘environmental factors’, 66% thought this would be the case in 5 years.  Whereas 44% consider yields (an indication of future rental growth) currently to be affected by ‘environmental factors’, 80% thought this would be the case in 5 years.

9 So what are ‘green’ buildings? Choice of materials Choice of systems Choice of ‘design & layout’ Choice of location etc… Those which are assessed as being ‘environmentally friendly’

10 Environmental assessments & sustainability  Environmental assessments of buildings fail as ‘sustainability assessments’.  “… there is no guarantee that buildings which score highly against the [BREEAM] framework are making a substantive contribution to increased ‘environmental’ sustainability at a global scale.”  These scales are relative, not absolute.

11 Sustainability assessment criteria  Note the differences between the different sustainability assessment criteria in terms of depth and breadth...

12 Property Advisory Group (1998)  Establish possible presence of contamination & need for remediation  Consider environmental benefits of buildings shape, orientation & landscaping  Minimise energy consumption, e.g. with lighting & boiler specification  Avoid polluting gases in components  Allow space for collection & use of recyclable materials

13 Property Advisory Group (1998)  Try to avoid factors associated with ‘sick building syndrome’  Ensure compliance with developer’s environmental policy  Ensure legislative compliance re. materials, waste, noise, water & air pollution

14 Guy & Kibert (1998)  Land:  Amount of brownfield land developed as proportion of site  Area of green space per building area  Inventory of tree cover  Ratio of land area to perimeter distance of municipality  Water:  Total impervious surface area per unit area  Per capita water consumption  Consumption of recycled/reclaimed water per capita

15 Guy & Kibert (1998)  Materials:  Mass of construction & demolition waste recycled per unit area of new construction  No. of historic structures  Proportion of commercial buildings with inherent recycling facilities  Energy:  Automobile accidents per selected intersection  Proportion of electricity consumption from renewable resources  Toxins:  Smoke-free interior environments as proportion of total area.

16 Curwell & Cooper (1998)  Review need for the building (might refurbishment meet need more efficiently?)  Audit & justify all resource inputs (e.g. land, energy & water management strategies)  Minimise waste & pollution from building & development process  Reduce dependency on central infrastructure (e.g. water, energy, solid waste, effluent)  Assess & minimise pollution outputs to air, land & water over life cycle (e.g. construction & demolition phases)

17 Curwell & Cooper (1998)  Cost life cycle & identify building and component lifetimes during the design stage (enable design for reuse and recycling)  Replace habitats destroyed or displaced by development, reintroduce locally relevant species & introduce drought resistant species  Ensure local public participation in decision- making in terms of how the building might impact upon human development aspects of Local Agenda 21

18 Ball (1998)  Energy efficiency  Bicycle/pedestrian access  Environmentally sound/green materials  Buying locally  Retaining heritage features  Water conservation  Using second hand/recycled materials  Local community links

19 DETR (2000)  Investment in people & equipment for a competitive industry  Achieving high growth while reducing pollution & resource use  Sharing the benefits of growth widely & fairly  Improving towns and cities & protecting countryside’s quality  Contributing to international sustainable development  Being more profitable and competitive

20 DETR (2000)  Delivering buildings and structures that provide greater satisfaction, well-being and value to customers & users  Respecting & treating stakeholders fairly  Enhancing and better protecting the natural environment  Minimising energy consumption and natural resources

21 How are (should) assessment indicators (be) drawn up?  Degree of community involvement  Linkage (between sustainability issues)  Validity  Availability & timeliness  Stability & reliability  Are they understandable ?

22 How are (should) assessment indicators (be) drawn up?  Responsiveness  Policy relevance  Degree to which they represent relevant issues  Flexibility  Degree to which they are proactive  Whether they focus on the long term  Whether they promote local sustainability at the expense of others (globally, for example).

23 Conclusions?  Definitions of sustainability are many, various, different.  Majority of actors consider environmental issues to be the main issue.  Environmental appraisals are partially useful in determining a building's level of sustainability

24 Conclusions?  Drawing up sustainability criteria is complex.  Existing criteria (whether environmental, economic, social…) should be used in conjunction.  Local criteria are useful, even if relative  This is the one of the most urgent issues for investors to consider…  There is a growing movement to get away from the so-called Vicious Circle of Blame

25 Occupiers: Demand sustainable buildings Have little choice Investors: Would fund sustainable buildings Experience no demand Developers: Would ask for sustainable buildings Believe investors won’t fund them Contractors: Can build environmentally efficient buildings Do not have demand Vicious Circle of Blame

26 Show ends…

27 Research & sustainability  How do we research sustainability without entering into the realm of guesswork?  There are “inevitable tendencies of the [urban sustainability] debate to promote a utopian vision of urban futures, however one might argue that this is a tendency of any envisioning and forward looking exercise”.

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