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Professionals’ knowledge and use of environmental assessment in an architectural competition
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Environmental Strategies Research (fms). University of Gävle, Sweden.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Environmental Strategies Research (fms).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2949-422X
2016 (English)In: Building Research & Information, ISSN 0961-3218, E-ISSN 1466-4321, 1-17 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2016. 1-17 p.
Keyword [en]
architects, architectural competition, assessment tool, environmental assessment, knowledge, neighbourhood, sustainable design, urban design
National Category
Architectural Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-187274DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2015.1118264ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84961214754OAI: diva2:929610

QP 201605

Available from: 2016-05-19 Created: 2016-05-19 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically 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.
architects, architecture, buildings, environment, environmental assessment tools, environmental sustainability, neighbourhoods
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-192939 (URN)978-91-7729-123-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-10-21, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)

QC 20160926

Available from: 2016-09-26 Created: 2016-09-23 Last updated: 2016-09-26Bibliographically approved

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Wallhagen, MaritaMalmqvist, Tove
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