1. Introduction :
In the European Union, a clear legal basis in its Constitution, continuing political commitment at the level of Council of Ministers, legally binding compliance with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (COP 3) , the urgent assignment of the Commission to implement policies on sustainable development, more balanced economic progress, social justice and inclusion, etc., and strong public support for such policies, are slowly generating sufficient pressure to force a radical change of pace and direction on what has been, until now, an inefficient, environmentally destructive, and very wasteful major industrial sector, i.e. construction.
A proper, rational response for the industry must be to produce an articulated vision of a future 'built environment' which deals effectively with this pressure, and which also clarifies the nature of the task in front of us, the actions and timescales required, and the paths to be taken ........
The big picture on this planet, and the long-term goal over
the next century in Europe,
although construction related sustainability performance indicators
Especially at this time, therefore, there is no greater need than to encourage creativity and innovation in all aspects of construction, and to produce a focused, empirical research agenda. The approach to developing 'real', cost effective solutions, in the form of practical guidelines, must be widely multi-disciplinary. An active dialogue between practitioners, researchers and end-users, based on direct and meaningful consultation, partnership, and consensus, must become the standard.
This paper demonstrates that Sustainable Design is the most cogent driving force for innovation and research in European construction, as we stand at the beginning of the 21st Century. The logic of this evolving design philosophy is all-encompassing, coherent ..... and relentless. A route map for the realization of a sustainable 'built environment' is drawn, and the principal elements in a necessary Interim Construction & Technical Control Research Agenda (2010) are itemized.
2. First Pit Stops on the Journey Towards the European Long-Term Goal
1998 [ a ], it was estimated that 20 % of the
world's population in the highest-income countries consumed 58
% of total energy, while the poorest fifth consumed less than
4 % - and that the burning of fossil fuels had almost quadrupled
since 1950. We see before us in Europe a fragmented 'built
environment', with a social fabric which is threadbare and torn
in many areas - Appendix
A ; and it is clear, at the time of writing, that
the European Union will not successfully meet the first major
target of the new millennium, 'Kyoto'.
Arriving at a Consensus on 'Sustainable Human and Social Development'
Europe must therefore decide, now and not later, whether its own future development, and its relationships with other global regions, will take the course of ........
The 1998 European
Charter on Sustainable Design & Construction [ b
] raises the issues which must be addressed, and the
manner in which this decision should be made.
A Futures Scenario & Strategy for Europe
E.U. already has an existing, highly evolved legal base which
underpins an extensive array of policies and actions relating
to sustainable human and social development. Together with the
legally binding commitments agreed in the 1997
Kyoto Protocol [ c ], Europe is well positioned,
and morally bound, to produce a comprehensive 'sustainability'
strategy for the next century, with a core value being social
justice and inclusion. The Amsterdam Treaty [ d ]
makes the formulation of this strategy a necessity. Existing
futures scenarios should be revised to take account of the next
phases of E.U. enlargement. See Appendix
Action Programme on Sustainable Design & Construction for the 21st Century
Critically, emphasis must be placed on creative design, competent implementation, reliable targeting of performance - and a fundamental re-organization of our European institutional frameworks.
Essential components in the Action Programme are ........
3. Sustainable Human & Social Development
'Sustainable Development' was defined in 1987 [ e ], as ........
development which meets the needs of the present without
Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development [ f ] states ........
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.
a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and
4. 'Watching' Existing Legislation, Standards & Documentation
In the forward evolution of the European Union, the Amsterdam Treaty represents significant progress - the 'principle' of sustainable development is now incorporated in its primary legislation, i.e. Constitution. Although not defined, or even expressed in the clearest terms, this is an important basis from which to begin. The next Treaty must strengthen and elaborate the concept.
The 1994 Energy Charter Treaty [ g ] provides some useful definitions ........
Energy Cycle :
' The entire energy chain, including activities related to prospecting for, exploration, production, conversion, storage, transport, distribution and consumption of the various forms of energy, and the treatment and disposal of wastes, as well as the decommissioning, cessation or closure of these activities, minimising harmful environmental impacts. '
Environmental Impact : ( requires further improvement )
' Any effect caused by a given activity on the environment, including human health and safety, flora, fauna, soil, air, water, climate, landscape and historical monuments or other physical structures or the interactions among these factors ; it also includes effects on cultural heritage or socio-economic conditions resulting from alterations to those factors. '
EN ISO 14040 [ h ] defines Life Cycle Assessment as follows ........
Compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential
The Implementation Plan for the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Work Programme on 'Indicators of Sustainable Development' is now in its 3rd Phase : January 1998 until January 2001. An initial Working List [ j ] of Indicators has already been produced which is intended for global application. These indicators cover four aspects of Sustainable Development, i.e. Social , Economic , Environmental , and Institutional , and are presented in a Driving Force - State - Response framework ; trial application is taking place in four global regions : Africa, Asia & Middle East, Europe, Americas & Caribbean .
A reasonable target for construction related performance, now, must be to meet the criterion of 'economic viability and technical feasibility', based on accurate life cycle assessment and costing - using proven state-of-the-art technology and methods of work, both of which are readily sourced in today's European marketplace. We must, however, agree on a future common definition of 'Sustainability Impact', and calculation methods must be improved, so that we will be able to produce a reliable 'Life Cycle Analysis' or a 'Life Cycle Appraisal' of a product, or service.
5. Route Map to a Sustainable 'Built Environment' in Europe
1 - Model of a Complex, Dynamic System
The realistic end condition, or 'reality' , is a sustainable built environment - the response, in built form, to the concept of sustainable human and social development. It may take another 7-10 years before we fully understand this concept.
Literature dealing with 'reality' is reviewed. Relevant hypotheses are extracted, and as many variables as possible are identified. Inputs also include the futures scenario(s), and initial construction related sustainability performance indicators. Use of statistics is limited to those which can be shown to be impartial, reliable, objective, scientifically independent, cost-effective and statistically confidential [ see the Amsterdam Treaty [ d ] - New Article 213a in the TEC ] .
An 'artificial reality' is designed which is complex enough to permit testing of the hypotheses formulated in Stage I . Observations must be capable of description in quantitative terms.
'Artificial reality' is broken down into simple experimental situations at small and medium scale, e.g. advanced energy surveying of buildings or groups of buildings using infra-red thermography, detailed analysis of air quality in buildings and at external locations, real time monitoring of thermal comfort (EN ISO 7730) conditions in buildings, etc., which generate test results under controlled conditions, i.e. a laboratory in the real environment.
Special attention is paid to measurement / calculation uncertainty, and test method precision. Computer models must be transparent to practitioners, and validated by an independent, competent individual and/or organization.
Questionnaire surveys are carried out with real users of buildings, civil engineering works and infrastructural networks, e.g. transport. To be effective, it is essential that a survey is carried out, on a person-to-person basis, by an independent, competent, non-threatening individual, using open and closed format questions. These surveys are not only very valuable sources of information, but they formalize the process of meaningful consultation between practitioners and end users.
A simple theory, or microtheory, is developed to explain the test results, e.g. 'person-centredness' of the built environment. When this microtheory is tested and found valid, it is expanded to contain test results in more complex situations. This process is repeated until a macrotheory is formulated which explains the 'artificial reality' .
'Artificial reality' is modified in the direction of 'reality' and Stage IV is repeated yielding a fresh macrotheory. The process is repeated again and again.
When a macrotheory is sufficiently developed, it can be used to extrapolate an explanation of 'reality' .
It is essential that such a 'theory of reality' be accessible to all concerned with the implementation of sustainable design, construction / de-construction and maintenance in the built environment and, therefore, a boundary to the use of terminology is delineated.
Terminology must focus on, and be always directly related to, the realistic end condition.
Without a concerted programme of innovation, research, development, demonstration and precise observation of results, the system described in 5 above will remain static, and the desired end condition, i.e. a sustainable 'built environment', cannot be attained. Passive 'watching' of technology is of little benefit ; to be useful, technology must serve a vision. Sustainable Design is tailor-made as the most cogent and relentless driver for this task in construction of the future.
6.2 Interim Construction & Technical Control Research Agenda (2010)
Notwithstanding the recent disappointing Communication from the E.U. Commission, 'Towards a European Research Area' [ k ] , principal elements in a focused and necessary interim research agenda should be the development and demonstration of ........
A. A Fragmented 'Built Environment' in Europe ( drawing by kind permission of E. Sire, Architect, Sweden )
B. A Futures Scenario for Western Europe - 'New Earth 21' Strategy
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