Whole Life Thinking for Sustainable Building Design

  • Building construction projects often start with high aspirations for sustainable, low energy, carbon neutral, responsibly sourced, socially equitable, affordable solutions. The aim is to generate healthy, productive, safe, enjoyable, low energy, low carbon dwellings and properties. Truly sustainable buildings reduce operating costs, increase occupant productivity, enhance commercial values and create sustainable communities. Current building assessment systems like BREEAM, LEED, Green Star, HK Beam, CASBEE are points based scoring systems designed to assess the sustainability of such projects and are to be commended for their environmental credentials and ability to focus the design team towards lower impact solutions. They can also be quite mechanistic and criteria-focused, perhaps disabling the design team from releasing their full potential for innovation and creativity.  Driven only by these mechanisms buildings which are commissioned from initial high sustainability aspirations can fall a long way short of the criteria first envisioned. This presentation takes a closer look at building sustainability from a whole life perspective using Life Cycle Assessment tools, probing at asking the right questions, exploring the future for low and zero carbon buildings, Building Information Modelling, Soft Landings, Triple Bottom Line Planning, Stakeholder Analysis, and Social Life Cycle Assessment. It does not present all the solutions, but asks if there may be a better way?


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