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Certification systems for sustainable neighbourhoods: what do they really certify?
Division of Environmental Strategies Analysis (fms), KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering. Division of Environmental Strategies Analysis (fms), KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
Division of Environmental Strategies Analysis (fms), KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
Division of Environmental Strategies Analysis (fms), KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
2016 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 56, 200-213 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Certification systems for sustainable neighbourhoods started to emerge around a decade ago. This study analysed the content, structure, weighting and indicators of two established certification systems for sustainable urban development - BREEAM Communities and LEED for Neighborhood Development. Several limitations of these systems were identified: both have a bias for procedure and feature indicators over indicators that assess actual performance; performance demands are set according to a relative understanding of sustainable development; the focus is on internal sustainability, while upstream and downstream impacts of construction are disregarded; the number and distribution of mandatory issues do not cover essential sustainability aspects; and the disproportionately large number of non-mandatory issues makes benchmarking difficult and signals that sustainability aspects are exchangeable. Altogether, this means that an area can be certified without being sustainable. Moreover, the lack of continuous development of certification requirements in the systems means that they risk exerting a conservative effect on urban development, rather than pushing it forward.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 56, 200-213 p.
Keyword [en]
Assessment, BREEAM, Certification, Indicators, LEED, Sustainable neighbourhood, Sustainable urban development, Benchmarking, Indicators (instruments), Sustainable development, Urban growth, Neighbourhood, Environmental design
National Category
Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-20770DOI: 10.1016/j.eiar.2015.10.003ISI: 000368044600020ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84946600419OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-20770DiVA: diva2:876426
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 244-2012-248Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, NV-00486-14
Available from: 2015-12-03 Created: 2015-12-03 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Environmental Assessment Tools for Neighbourhoods and Buildings in relation to Environment, Architecture, and Architects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental Assessment Tools for Neighbourhoods and Buildings in relation to Environment, Architecture, and Architects
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores Neighbourhood and Building Environmental Assessment Tools’ (NBEATs’) function as assessment tools and decision support, and their relation to environment, architecture and architects. This is done by analysing, testing, and discussing a number of NBEATs (LEED-NC, Code for Sustainable Homes, EcoEffect, LEED-ND, BREEAM-C, and ENSLIC-tool), their manuals and use. Moreover, professionals’ (architects’) self-rated opinions regarding use and knowledge of NBEATs and environmental aspects are surveyed.

Similarities and differences in NBEATs are found regarding: content, structure, weighting and indicators used. Indicators distinguished as procedure, performance and feature are used to varying extents to assess social, environmental and technical aspects. NBEATs relation to environmental sustainability has limitations due to: non-transparency, tradable indicators, relative measures, low criteria levels, limited life cycle perspective, and exclusion of relevant environmental aspects, such as embedded toxic substances, nutrient cycles, land use change, and ecosystem services. Ratings and architecture are influenced by NBEATs in varying ways. Higher criteria levels would probably increase their impact on architecture. Thus more research regarding NBEATs and links to architectural design, theory and practice is welcomed.

There is limited use of NBEATs as decision support in early design phases such as in architectural competitions. Architects rate the importance of environmental aspects high, but few rate their skill in handling environmental aspects high. This calls for increasing knowledge and know-how of environmental strategies and solutions among architects and adaptation of NBEATs to early design processes. The values NBEATs reflect and the values we want them to create is also important. To support ‘environmental’ architecture, an increased socio-eco-technological system perspective is put forward, and other measures besides NBEATs are needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 112 p.
Series
TRITA-INFRA-FMS-PHD, 2016:5
Keyword
architects, architecture, buildings, environment, environmental assessment tools, environmental sustainability, neighbourhoods
National Category
Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-22522 (URN)978-91-7729-123-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-10-21, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-09-28 Created: 2016-09-28 Last updated: 2017-01-10Bibliographically approved

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