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Environmental Assessment Tools for Neighbourhoods and Buildings in relation to Environment, Architecture, and Architects
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. KTH, Miljöstrategisk analys (fms).
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 [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-22522ISBN: 978-91-7729-123-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-22522DiVA: diva2:975111
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
List of papers
1. Framework for Detailed Comparison of Building Environmental Assessment Tools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Framework for Detailed Comparison of Building Environmental Assessment Tools
2013 (English)In: Buildings, ISSN 2075-5309, E-ISSN 2075-5309, Vol. 3, no 1, 39-60 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Understanding how Building Environmental Assessments Tools (BEATs) measure and define “environmental” building is of great interest to many stakeholders, but it is difficult to understand how BEATs relate to each other, as well as to make detailed and systematic tool comparisons. A framework for comparing BEATs is presented in the following which facilitates an understanding and comparison of similarities and differences in terms of structure, content, aggregation, and scope. The framework was tested by comparing three distinctly different assessment tools; LEED-NC v3, Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), and EcoEffect. Illustrations of the hierarchical structure of the tools gave a clear overview of their structural differences. When using the framework, the analysis showed that all three tools treat issues related to the main assessment categories: Energy and Pollution, Indoor Environment, and Materials and Waste. However, the environmental issues addressed, and the parameters defining the object of study, differ and, subsequently, so do rating, results, categories, issues, input data, aggregation methodology, and weighting. This means that BEATs measure “environmental” building differently and push “environmental” design in different directions. Therefore, tool comparisons are important, and the framework can be used to make these comparisons in a more detailed and systematic way.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basel, Switzerland: MDPI AG, 2013
Keyword
framework; green building design; sustainable building; environmental assessment tool; LEED; code for sustainable homes; ecoeffect, miljöbedömningsmetoder; miljöanpassat byggande; ramverk
National Category
Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-13885 (URN)10.3390/buildings3010039 (DOI)2-s2.0-84992234689 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-02-26 Created: 2013-02-26 Last updated: 2016-11-07Bibliographically approved
2. Design consequences of differences in building assessment tools: a case study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design consequences of differences in building assessment tools: a case study
2011 (English)In: Building Research & Information, ISSN 0961-3218, E-ISSN 1466-4321, Vol. 39, no 1, 16-33 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental assessment tools for buildings are emerging rapidly in many countries. Do different assessment tools influence the design process and also guide ‘green’ building projects in different directions? Three assessment tools, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (LEED-NC), Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) and EcoEffect, were tested in a case study project in Sweden: a new multi-storey residential building called Grönskär. The content and results of the three assessment tools were compared in general, while issues in the three core common categories of Energy, Indoor Environment and Materials & Waste were compared in more detail. The assessment results for the case study building varied with the three tools, and the design strategies and tactics to improve the overall rating of the building project differed for each tool. This confirms that the tools can influence sustainable building in different directions and illustrates insufficient consensus between assessment tools in terms of issues, criteria and weighting. The divergent results highlight the need for an appropriate structure of assessment tools that are both environmentally relevant and practically useful.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2011
Keyword
assessment methods, assessment tool, building assessment, building design, Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), EcoEffect, environmental assessment, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), sustainable building
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-10195 (URN)10.1080/09613218.2010.513210 (DOI)000286821500002 ()2-s2.0-78650728649 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2011-09-21 Created: 2011-09-21 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved
3. Basic building life cycle calculations to decrease contribution to climate change: Case study on an office building in Sweden  
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Basic building life cycle calculations to decrease contribution to climate change: Case study on an office building in Sweden  
2011 (English)In: Building and Environment, ISSN 0360-1323, E-ISSN 1873-684X, Vol. 46, no 10, 1863-1871 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examined whether simplified life cycle-based calculations of climate change contributions can provide better decision support for building design. Contributions to climate change from a newly built office building in Gävle, Sweden, were studied from a life cycle perspective as a basis for improvements. A basic climate and energy calculation tool for buildings developed in the European project ENSLIC was used. The study also examined the relative impacts from building material production and building operation, as well as the relative importance of the impact contributions from these two life cycle stages at various conditions.

The ENSLIC tool calculates operational energy use and contributions to climate change of a number of optional improvement measures. Twelve relevant improvement measures were tested. The most important measures proved to be changing to CO2 free electricity, changing construction slabs from concrete to wood, using windows with better U-values, insulating the building better and installing low-energy lighting and white goods. Introduction of these measures was estimated to reduce the total contribution to climate change by nearly 50% compared with the original building and the operational energy use by nearly 20% (from 100 to 81 kWh/m2 yr). Almost every building is unique and situated in a specific context. Making simple analyses of different construction options showed to be useful and gave some unexpected results which were difficult to foresee from a general design experience. This process acts as an introduction to life cycle thinking and highlights the consequence of different material choices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2011
Keyword
Building design; Climate change; CO2 emissions; Life cycle tool; Energy use; Materials impact
National Category
Building Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-10196 (URN)10.1016/j.buildenv.2011.02.003 (DOI)000292223900001 ()2-s2.0-79956355058 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2011-09-21 Created: 2011-09-21 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved
4. Certification systems for sustainable neighbourhoods: what do they really certify?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Certification systems for sustainable neighbourhoods: what do they really certify?
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.

Keyword
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:nbn:se:hig:diva-20770 (URN)10.1016/j.eiar.2015.10.003 (DOI)000368044600020 ()2-s2.0-84946600419 (Scopus ID)
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
5. Professionals' knowledge and use of environmental assessment in an architectural competition
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Professionals' knowledge and use of environmental assessment in an architectural competition
2017 (English)In: Building Research & Information, ISSN 0961-3218, E-ISSN 1466-4321, Vol. 45, no 4, 426-442 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In early design phases, architects, landscape architects and urban planners are key actors whose decisions determine the environmental impact of planning and building projects. Environmental and sustainability assessment tools for buildings and neighbourhoods have been developed to promote sustainable building, but their usage has not been thoroughly evaluated. This study investigated self-reported knowledge and usage of such tools among competitors and jury group from 10 European countries involved in the international architectural competition '€˜A New City Centre for Kiruna'€™ in Sweden. The questionnaire revealed that 13% used environmental assessment tools or management systems in the competition, although 47% had used them previously. Tool users reported greater knowledge of how to handle environmental impacts than non-users. However, the self-rated experience of handling various environmental impacts, in the competition and in general, was low for both groups. Nevertheless, the self-rated importance of environmental impacts was high among all participants. Based on this study, it is concluded that environmental assessment tools, issues and goals can be better integrated into the processes of early design in planning and building projects, and in architectural competitions. Furthermore, to limit environmental impacts in building and planning projects, professionals need to be educated about environmental strategies and solutions.

Keyword
architects, architectural competition, assessment tool, environmental assessment, knowledge, neighbourhood, sustainable design, urban design
National Category
Civil Engineering Architecture
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-21332 (URN)10.1080/09613218.2015.1118264 (DOI)000399461700006 ()2-s2.0-84961214754 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2016-03-21 Created: 2016-03-21 Last updated: 2017-06-15Bibliographically approved

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