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Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future

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Abstract

This research document – Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future – presents findings from a study of several approaches capable of contributing towards a fully sustainable built environment in New Zealand. It examines the value and opportunities for central government organisations of adopting one or all of them to achieve this goal. This research document: -defines the concepts under consideration -identifies the value and opportunities of taking an integrated approach to a sustainable built environment -compares business-as-usual in New Zealand with the design approaches under consideration -identifies the environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits for each approach -provides case studies to demonstrate the concepts -considers implementation of the approaches over various timeframes.
Rethinking our built environments:
Towards a sustainable future
A research document
Rethinking our built environments:
Towards a sustainable future
A research document
Prepared by
Sarah Jenkin, URS New Zealand Limited and
Maibritt Pedersen Zari, Victoria University
Acknowledgements
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future was subject to review by key
contributors in the fields of regenerative and restorative design. The authors wish to thank the
following contributors: Bill Reed, AIA, LEED, Regenesis Group, New Mexico, President of the
Integrative Design Collaborative; Nils Larsson, FRAIC, Executive Director of the International
Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE); Craig Pocock, Director of Pocock Design:
Environment, and contract lecturer in landscape architecture, Lincoln University; and Alex
Couchman, Principal, Warren and Mahony Architects.
Published in October 2009 by the
Ministry for the Environment
Manatū Mō Te Taiao
PO Box 10 362, Wellington, New Zealand
ISBN: 978-0-478-33145-5 (electronic)
Publication number: ME 916
This document is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website:
www.mfe.govt.nz
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future iii
Contents
Executive Summary v
1 Introduction 1
Background to the study 1
Using this document 2
2 Setting the Scene 3
The built environment 3
Sustainable development in the global context 3
Sustainable development in New Zealand 4
3 Explaining the Concepts 5
3.1 Literature review 5
3.2 Definitions 5
3.2.1 Comparing the concepts 8
4 The Value of a Sustainable Built Environment 12
4.1 Taking an integrated approach to a sustainable built environment 12
4.2 Perceiving the built environment as a system 14
4.3 Identifying environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits 16
4.3.1 Potential benefits of a conventional approach 18
4.3.2 Potential benefits of an eco-efficient approach 18
4.3.3 Potential benefits of a cradle-to-cradle approach 20
4.3.4 Potential benefits of a restorative approach 21
4.3.5 Potential benefits of a regenerative approach 22
4.4 The timeframe to implement sustainable built environments 24
4.4.1 Short term – five years (2013) 26
4.4.2 Medium term – 40 years (2048) 27
4.4.3 Long term – 80 years (2088) 27
4.5 Challenges to implementation 28
5 Case Studies 30
5.1 Regenerative development 30
The Willow School, Gladstone, New Jersey, USA 30
5.2 Restorative development 31
Living Water Garden, Chengdu, China 31
5.3 Cradle-to-cradle 33
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Cleveland, USA 33
5.4 Eco-efficiency 35
Conservation House, Wellington, New Zealand 35
6 Opportunities for Further Research 37
7 Conclusions 38
iv Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
References 39
Appendices
Appendix A: Recognising Regenerative Development 42
Appendix B: Cradle-to-cradle Development 43
Appendix C: Eco-efficient Approach 44
Tables
Table 4.1: The built environment as a system – comparing the different concepts 15
Table 4.2: Environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits 17
Table 4.3: Timeline for implementation 25
Figures
Figure 3.1: Trajectory of environmentally responsible design 9
Figure 3.2: Connections between concepts of sustainability and regeneration 11
Figure 4.1: Achieving positive environmental outcomes 25
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future v
Executive Summary
ES 1 Setting the scene
The negative environmental impacts of New Zealand’s built environment are immense.
Globally, 40 per cent of all energy and material resources are used to build and operate
buildings, 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from building construction and
operation, and 40 per cent of total waste results from construction and demolition activities
(UNEP, 2007). Added to this are additional impacts on land, water and air quality, as well as
human health.
Current sustainability practices as applied to the built environment, which aim to do ‘less harm’,
are insufficient to achieve a sustainable environment. This document presents cutting-edge
thinking about how New Zealand’s built environments can be developed to create a built
environment with environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits.
The definition of a sustainable built environment is changing rapidly. While aiming for neutral
or reduced environmental impacts in terms of energy, carbon, waste or water are worthwhile
targets, it is becoming clear that the built environment must go beyond this. It must have net
positive environmental benefits for the living world.
This implies that the built environment needs to produce more than it consumes, as well as
remedy pollution and damage. It is a departure from the idea that the best the built environment
can be is ‘neutral’ in relation to the living world.
Concepts such as regenerative, restorative, cradle-to-cradle (eco-effectiveness) and eco-efficient
development are likely to contribute to achieving a sustainable built environment. According to
leading professionals in the field, the goal of such concepts is ecological and community
restoration or regeneration, where success is measured by improvements in health and well-
being for humans, other living beings, and ecosystems as a whole (Reed, 2006; Kellert, 2004;
McDonough, 2002). This requires an expanded notion of what the built environment is and
how it should perform, as well as a better understanding of the relationships between it and
living environments.
Proponents of the concept of regenerative development suggest that the required shift to
regenerative development cannot be a gradual process of improvements – rather, it will require
a fundamental rethinking of architectural and urban design.
ES 2 Background to this study
In 2007, the Ministry for the Environment (‘the Ministry’) undertook a strategic review of the
sustainable building work stream that led to a number of changes. The review did not address
the work stream’s short-term aims, which were to ensure central government organisations
accelerate the adoption of ‘best practice’ sustainable building practices to improve the
sustainability of their buildings.
vi Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
The sustainable building work stream worked with industry to develop tools, guidelines and
guidance to assist central government organisations. The Ministry has also helped the New
Zealand Green Building Council to ensure Green Star rating tools were available to central
government organisations and New Zealand businesses more generally.
The review suggested taking a more holistic, integrated approach to long-term sustainable
building.
The Ministry for the Environment commissioned this research document – Rethinking our built
environments: Towards a sustainable future – as a way to identify the benefits of this approach
for central government organisations, and New Zealand as a whole.
ES 3 Purpose of this document
The purpose of this document is to stimulate discussion and debate. It does not seek to
determine a particular path, but presents concepts that challenge us to significantly shift our
thinking about the built environment. This will allow central government organisations to
explore how the concepts discussed in this document could strengthen and progress their policy
areas as they relate to the built environment.
The document is directed primarily toward people with a general understanding of sustainability
principles. Its key elements are:
definition of the concepts of regenerative, restorative, cradle-to-cradle and eco-efficient
development
identification of the value and opportunities of taking an integrated approach to a
sustainable built environment
comparison of business-as-usual in New Zealand’s built environment, with the concepts
under consideration
identification of the environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits for each
approach
consideration of possibilities for implementing each approach over time.
ES 4 Key findings
New Zealand’s existing built environment will largely still be in place in 50 years’ time. The
development of a sustainable built environment will therefore largely rely on retrofitting
existing infrastructure and buildings (Storey et al, 2004).
Business-as-usual in New Zealand has included conventional approaches to building design,
and green or high performance building design, termed here eco-efficiency.
Awareness has been growing, particularly over the last five years, of the importance of a
sustainable built environment. This is reflected in a number of ways, including the development
of the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol, the establishment of the New Zealand Green
Building Council, and built environment sustainability research consortiums, such as Beacon
Pathway.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future vii
Each of the four main development approaches explored in this study has benefits, some of
them similar. It is expected benefits will intensify when moving along the sustainability
continuum from eco-efficiency (least sustainable) through to regenerative development (most
sustainable).
Eco-efficient development, while an improvement on conventional approaches, ultimately still
results in negative environmental impact (Reed, 2007). Given the scale of environmental issues
like climate change, and the short window for action some experts predict, this may not be an
adequate response to the problem beyond the short term.
Regenerative, restorative and cradle-to-cradle development aim for net positive
environmental outcomes. This is a new way of thinking that sees development as a way to
improve the health of ecosystems. The key differences between the three concepts lie in the
perceived role of humans. Restorative and cradle-to-cradle strategies seek to improve
ecosystem health through active human management, while regenerative strategies seek to
repair the capacity of ecosystems to function at optimum levels without ongoing human
intervention.
Some of the key potential benefits the three approaches could deliver are:
creating and strengthening relationships and communities by focusing on the process of
engagement as well as the outcomes
creating stronger, healthier, more equitable communities
greater understanding of local traditions and indigenous knowledge, which can preserve
and create cultural identity. This is particularly significant in New Zealand given the
importance of tangata whenua traditions and knowledge of place
an emphasis on the long-term consequences of material and energy source selection.
The regenerative approach potentially delivers the greatest positive outcomes for human
communities and culture, as well as ecosystems and the built environment. It would also
contribute towards offsetting the ongoing negative environmental impacts of the existing
building stock and reduce the percentage of energy-dependent new buildings.
ES 4.1 Perceiving the built environment as an integrated
system
Connections between components of the built environment, such as individual buildings,
transport systems, urban landscapes and other infrastructure are important. When these are
viewed as elements of a system that also includes humans and ecosystems as key participants,
the ability to achieve change is considerably greater than if they are considered as individual
elements with limited or no relationship to each other.
The cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative approaches allow an integrated approach to
development that extends beyond the design profession, to include project stakeholders,
professional institutions and governing bodies. By doing so, such approaches become a means
of bridging the gap between current ways of working and the desired outcomes of a sustainable
built environment (Yang et al, 2005).
viii Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
ES 4.2 Change over time
This research document explores short, medium and long-term timeframes for implementing the
approaches discussed, as well as possible benefits derived over these timeframes.
In the short term (five years), eco-efficiency is already rapidly transforming business–as-usual
in the built environment.
In the medium term (40 years), cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative developments may
provide a more suitable built environment for humans in a changing context.
In the long and extra-long term (80- to several hundred years), a regenerative approach to the
built environment will more likely ensure a continuous suitable environment for humans and
other species.
ES 4.3 Challenges and opportunities
The different approaches pose a number of challenges, primarily associated with the current
lack of an integrated approach to development.
Because cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development are aligned with a whole-
systems approach to the built environment, they also pose potential challenges in terms of
current methods for dividing land and the consequent legal boundaries for larger scale projects.
There are, however, opportunities for central government organisations and others to show
leadership and take New Zealand forward to a sustainable built environment, by helping
develop momentum for adopting these approaches.
To realise those opportunities, short-term adoption of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and
regenerative approaches is needed to produce New Zealand examples and allow capitalisation of
the long-term benefits. This could take several forms: individual projects could eventually
transform the built environment in a building-by-building, or development-by-development
way; or concepts could be applied to neighbourhoods, larger developments, sections of cities,
suburbs or whole new towns to more effectively demonstrate the benefits of a systems-based
approach to design.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 1
1 Introduction
This research document – Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future –
presents findings from a study of several approaches capable of contributing towards a fully
sustainable built environment in New Zealand. It examines the value and opportunities for
central government organisations of adopting one or all of them to achieve this goal. This
research document:
defines the concepts under consideration
identifies the value and opportunities of taking an integrated approach to a sustainable
built environment
compares business-as-usual in New Zealand with the design approaches under
consideration
identifies the environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits for each approach
provides case studies to demonstrate the concepts
considers implementation of the approaches over various timeframes.
The format used to structure the study is based on Fisher and Torbert’s collaborative inquiry
approach (Fisher and Torbert, 1995), which provided a framework for organising the diverse
range of relevant information gathered, particularly the considerable amount of international
research and literature.
Background to the study
In the second half of 2007, the Ministry for the Environment (‘the Ministry’) undertook a
strategic review of the sustainable building work stream
As part of the review, a number of central government organisations were asked what they
would like to see happen with the work stream in the future. The organisations responded with
questions: “how far should agencies aim for?”; “what is the end point?”; and “how could the
work stream more fully incorporate economic and social sustainability?”
The strategic review led the Ministry to commission this research document to help identify the
potential benefits and implications of using strategies such as regenerative development,
restorative design, cradle-to-cradle and eco-efficiency to achieve a fully sustainable built
environment. This document also looks at the value of taking an integrated approach to
developing sustainable built environment.
The strategic review also prompted the adoption of a regenerative approach to development as
the long-term aspirational goal of the sustainable building work stream.
2 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Using this document
The intention of this document is to stimulate discussion and debate about emerging concepts of
the built environment, rather than to determine a particular single path towards achieving a
sustainable built environment.
The research document is directed primarily towards an audience with a general understanding
of sustainability principles.
This study is not a cost-benefit analysis. The value and opportunities associated with the
concepts are largely qualitative because there are limited real life examples in New Zealand of
the approaches described. Much of the discussion is therefore at a theoretical level. Despite
this, it is the opinion of the authors that it is possible to determine potential value and
opportunities for New Zealand that would arise with the adoption of concepts for a fully
sustainable built environment.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 3
2 Setting the Scene
In this section:
a description of what constitutes a built environment
an explanation of sustainable development
a description of the current status of sustainable development in New Zealand.
The built environment
The built environment generally refers to the “[human] made surroundings that provide the
setting for human activity, ranging from the large-scale civic surroundings to the personal
places” (Moffatt et al, 2008). In the New Zealand context, the built environment includes both
urban and rural elements. The scale of the built environment varies, from small rural service
centres such as Oxford, Canterbury, to larger cities such as Wellington and Auckland.
The built environment delivers economic, social and cultural benefits and generally provides a
suitable environment for humans to reside and work in. The built environment also, however,
has wide ranging negative environmental impacts, including impacts associated with air quality,
water and energy consumption, transport accessibility, materials use and management of waste.
Government organisations in New Zealand have a significant role to play in the built
environment, in particular because of the number of buildings owned or managed by
government agencies, such as schools, hospitals, office accommodation and so on. Central and
local government are also major developers of the built environment, being responsible for
approximately 30 per cent of all construction in New Zealand.
It is important to recognise that the built environment does not solely comprise buildings,
infrastructure and transport. It includes the human community, cultural experiences and
interactions of people. The interaction between these components influences how the built
environment develops over time and contributes to developing a ‘sense of place’, meaning the
character or essence of a place, comprising all of its features, whether natural or constructed.
Sustainable development in the global context
The commonly accepted definitions of sustainable development focus on the use of resources by
the current generation in a manner that does not negatively affect the ability of future
generations to meet their needs. Curwell and Cooper (1998) identify three other common ways
to describe sustainable development: ‘environment’ refers to the preservation of local and global
ecosystems to sustain all life; ‘public participation’ acknowledges the need for all people to
participate in positive change; and ‘equity’ refers to a fair sharing of global resources for both
human and non-human life. In essence, therefore, a sustainable built environment could be
described as one which takes into account the needs of future generations, ecological health,
public participation and equity.
4 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Several authors (Reed, 2006; Kellert, 2004; McDonough, 2002) suggest that current
sustainability practice as applied to the built environment is insufficient to achieve a sustainable
environment. The intended outcome of ‘green’ or ‘high performance’ design is to do ‘less
harm’; a relative improvement to what exists now. Sustainable development or ‘achieving a
steady state’ is neutral or ‘100 per cent less bad’ (McDonough, 2002).
According to these authors, the goal of a sustainable built environment is restoration or
regeneration. This implies a living or whole-systems approach to development which looks at
the human and non-human ecology of the built environment. In taking a whole-systems
approach, a more expansive notion of the built environment is required, one where dynamic
relationships exist between a greater number of built and un-built elements and where a
balanced, sustainable relationship between these elements is explored (Moffat et al, 2008).
A systems approach to development is not new (Reed, 2007a). Patrick Geddes (1854–1932),
the father of regional planning, emphasised connections between the city and the countryside.
Geddes developed a theory of ‘biopolis’, a two-pronged approach to viewing the city as an
organic entity (Heinonen et al, 2006). Moffatt et al (2008) refer to 1930s German landscape
architect, Leberecht Migge, who formulated and implemented principles of urban metabolism in
developing social housing for workers – a balanced socio-ecological metabolism for organics.
More recently, the oil shocks of the 1970s contributed towards a groundswell of thinking about
sustainability, ecology and landscape, which built on the thinking of people such as McHarg
(Design with Nature) and Leopold (A Sand County Almanac) and their understanding of
connections between nature and humans. Decreasing oil prices and increased economic security
during the 1980s curtailed the development of a critical mass to take these concepts forward.
The concepts explored in this research document have percolated under the surface of
conventional approaches to the built environment for decades. However, the increased focus on
the whole-systems approach within the current global context is new. The majority of the
world’s population now live in urban environments. Urban development is rapid, and its
environmental effects are immense and long lasting. Preventing development is unrealistic.
There is, however, a need for a more sustainable built environment, which recognises this more
expansive notion of the built environment and which looks to the concepts of restorative and
regenerative development.
Sustainable development in New Zealand
In New Zealand there is a growing awareness, particularly over the last five years, of the
importance of a sustainable built environment. This is reflected in a number of ways, including
the development of the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol, the establishment of the New
Zealand Green Building Council and Green Star rating scheme, and establishment of research
consortiums, such as Beacon Pathway.
Despite these initiatives, it is important to consider whether current actions are sufficient to
bridge the gap between the existing built environment in New Zealand and the sustainable built
environment we will need in future. It is likely that a significant shift in thinking will be
required, along with a strategic response that identifies the actions necessary over the short,
medium, long and extra-long terms.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 5
3 Explaining the Concepts
This section provides the background and explanation for the concepts that form the basis of
this research document.
In this section:
findings of the literature review (3.1)
descriptions of the various concepts for developing a sustainable built environment (3.2)
how the concepts relate to or differ from each other (3.2.1).
3.1 Literature review
The beginning point for the literature review was the bibliography Introduction to the Thinking
behind Regenerative Design/Development (Regenesis Group, 2006). In addition, a number of
journal articles, conference proceedings, books and internet-based reference material detailing
the four design concepts were analysed. Time was spent reviewing those documents considered
to be most relevant, with selection guided by the authors’ work in the field of regenerative
design, bio-mimicry and sustainable architecture more generally.
The literature review enabled:
definitions of key sustainability/regeneration concepts: regenerative, restorative, cradle-
to-cradle and eco-efficient development – how they connect with each other, and how
they differ
a definition of what an ‘integrated approach’ means
a description of what business-as-usual means in the current New Zealand context, and
how it fits with the key sustainability concepts
identification of the key proponents of the concepts, and the main reference material
available
identification of case studies to illustrate the concepts.
3.2 Definitions
Regenerative development
Regenerative development acknowledges humans, as well as their developments, social
structures and cultural concerns, as an inherent and indivisible part of ecosystems. It sees
human development as a means to create optimum health in ecosystems. Understanding the
unique and diverse human and non-human elements of each place is a crucial part of
regenerative development (Cole et al, 2006; Reed, 2007b).
6 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
In using a regenerative approach, development is the outcome and design is the means of
achieving it.
Regenerative development is a departure from the idea that the best buildings can be is ‘neutral’
in relation to the living world. It implies that built environments can be designed to produce
more energy and resource than they consume, and to transform and filter waste into health-
giving resources (Storey and Pedersen Zari, 2007). Reed (2007b) describes this approach to
design as ‘building capacity not things’.
Regenerative development aims to restore or create the capacity of ecosystems and
biogeochemical cycles (carbon, hydrological, nitrogen, etc) to function optimally without
constant human intervention. The process creates new potential, as humans are able to evolve
with the ecosystems they are part of.
A systems-based approach is crucial to regenerative design and development. Buildings are not
considered as individual objects, but instead are designed as parts of larger systems allowing
complex and mutually beneficial interactions between the built environment, the living world
and human inhabitants. This ensures that a constantly dynamic and responsive built
environment evolves over time. This is a key difference between regenerative design and eco-
efficiency.
Reed (2007b) suggests that regenerative development encompasses the other concepts described
below. For example, a regenerative design approach would already be restorative, cradle-to-
cradle and eco-efficient (in terms of being sustainable or zero negative environmental impact).
[Appendix A includes guidance on how to recognise regenerative development.]
Restorative development
Restorative design and development acknowledges that human activities have caused significant
negative impacts on the natural environment. It seeks to return polluted, degraded or damaged
sites back to a state of acceptable health through human intervention. Reed (2007b) defines it as
humans ‘doing things to nature’. Cole et al (2006) point out that ‘while a restored condition
can evolve positively after the intervention, the success of the process is usually dependent on
further human management’. Examples of restorative developments are brownfield remediation
and wetlands restoration projects.
Cradle-to-cradle development
Cradle-to-cradle (eco-effectiveness) design and development, or eco-effectiveness can be
described as the next step on from eco-efficiency because it moves beyond simply reducing
environmental impact (‘less bad’) to the creation of products, buildings or systems with
beneficial environmental or social outcomes (McDonough and Braungart, 2002). It takes a
systems approach to designing buildings or industrial systems that perform highly without any
negative environmental or social consequences.
Cradle-to-cradle design has also been described as a business strategy that generates ecological
and social, as well as economic prosperity. The cradle-to-cradle concept views population
growth as a benefit not a burden, because of the opportunity for cradle-to-cradle consumption.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 7
A cradle-to-cradle approach to design aims to restore the health of water, soil and the
atmosphere. It eliminates the idea of waste by proposing that waste can equal food. Products
and building components should be 100 per cent biodegradable or 100 per cent recyclable to
avoid cross-contamination of the waste and resource streams. This moves from a paradigm of
cradle-to-grave, which is a linear use of resource resulting in waste, to one with a cyclic use of
resource eliminated waste. The cradle-to-cradle future of industry is seen to be a ‘world of
abundance’ rather than one of limits.
[Appendix B includes The Hannover Principles, a series of nine principles developed by
William McDonough for EXPO 2000 in Hannover, Germany, to describe cradle-to-cradle
development.]
Eco-efficiency approach
The term eco-efficiency was coined by the World Business Council for Sustainable
Development (WBCSD) in its 1992 publication Changing Course. It is based on the concept of
creating more goods and services while using fewer resources and producing less waste and
pollution.
Eco-efficiency is achieved through the delivery of ‘competitively priced goods and services that
satisfy human needs and bring quality of life while progressively reducing environmental
impacts of goods and resource intensity throughout the entire life cycle to a level at least in line
with the Earth’s estimated carrying capacity’ (DeSimone et al, 2000).
The starting point for eco-efficiency is minimising waste, pollution and natural resource
depletion. The eco-efficient approach is a carrying capacity approach – it is focused on
reducing the footprint of activities and, in particular, delivery of goods and services, while still
satisfying human needs. Ultimately eco-efficiency looks to neutralise the effects of
development by achieving a steady state between the resources used and the resources
remaining. It does not seek to achieve positive environmental outcomes.
[Appendix C includes an eco-efficiency checklist by Birkeland (2002) that outlines a number of
categories for the reduced environmental impacts associated with an eco-efficient development.]
Integrated approach
A number of techniques, frameworks and processes can be combined to create an integrated
approach to planning, design and development to achieve the most effective use of resources.
The essence of the integrated approach is to co-ordinate planning and management activities to
reconcile conflicting priorities and maximise the synergy between complementary aspects of the
built environment such as, buildings, transport, urban design, and infrastructure.
An integrated approach may result in regenerative, restorative, eco-efficient or conventional
development outcomes, depending upon the motivation and knowledge of the design team.
Public participation can link with an integrated approach to improve project outcomes even
further, in particular by bringing in site-specific knowledge and increasing local ownership.
Including views from outside the design team can significantly improve understanding of the
issues associated with a particular development.
8 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
When moving towards a more regenerative approach to development, public participation is
critical, as this helps inform the understanding of place before decisions are made about what
the design intervention should be.
Business-as-usual
For the purpose of this research document, business-as-usual in the New Zealand built
environment includes conventional building design and green or high performance building
design. Most existing buildings and new buildings take into account few, if any, environmental
issues in their design or use. However, a growing number of new buildings are now designed to
be more sustainable, driven in part by increased market demand, and this is rapidly changing
business-as-usual in New Zealand.
The Green Star building rating tools, developed by the New Zealand Green Building Council,
are also contributing to the change. Green Star takes into account a variety of different
assessment criteria for building performance.1 These reflect current trends in sustainable
building, which tend to focus on individual building performance, primarily around: reducing
energy and water use; reducing pollution or damaging emissions; improving indoor air quality;
increasing the use of renewable or sustainable materials; taking transport issues into account;
and considering sustainable land use.
Drivers for the increasing demand for sustainable building include: lower operating costs;
increased occupant satisfaction and health; increased adaptability of the building; an increased
understanding of the necessity of addressing environmental issues; and a general global trend
towards sustainable building (Fullbrook et al, 2006).
3.2.1 Comparing the concepts
Regenerative, restorative and cradle-to-cradle developments aim for positive environmental
impact. The key differences between these concepts lie in the perceived role of humans.
Regenerative design and development acknowledges humans as an integral part of ecosystems
and aims for a mutually beneficial relationship. It seeks to repair the capacity of ecosystems to
function at optimum levels without ongoing human intervention. The restorative and cradle-to-
cradle approaches seek to improve ecosystem health through active human management.
All three concepts touch on the importance of understanding ecology and mimicking it where
appropriate to design a built environment that has positive environmental impact. The concepts
of meaningfully mimicking and understanding ecosystems and biology are developed in the
research areas of biomimicry and ecological design, but are not covered further in this research
document.
Eco-efficiency differs fundamentally from the above three concepts because it works within the
existing business-as-usual paradigms for designing and producing products and buildings. The
ultimate goal of eco-efficiency is neutral environmental impact at best, rather than an actively
positive one.
1 www.greenstar.co.nz
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 9
Figure 3.1 replicates Reed’s trajectory of environmentally responsible design (adopted from
Reed, 2007b), which shows how society might move through the concepts towards a
regenerative environment. As Reed (2007b) points out,these are not necessarily steps but
more like an evolutionary spiral because the process continually evolves in a gradual unfolding
or emergence as the field changes’.
Figure 3.1: Trajectory of environmentally responsible design
Green/high performance design
Relative improvement (environmental
rating tools etc)
Less energy required
Regenerating system
Technologies/
techniques
Degenerating system
More energy requi red
Fragmented system
Regenerative design
Humans intentionally participate as
nature – actively co-evolving the whole
system
Sustainable design
Neutral – “100% less bad” (McDonough)
Conventional practice
“One step better than breaking the law”
(Croxton)
Restorative design
Humans doing things to nature – assisting
the evolution of sub-systems
Living system
Understanding
Whole system
Figure 3.2 (on page 11) provides a summary and comparison of the development and design
concepts, and how they relate to each other. They move along a continuum from left to right,
with conventional, business-as-usual approaches on the left, and the concept requiring the most
change in thinking, regenerative development, at the far right. The diagram is not intended to
be strictly linear.
The top of Figure 3.2 shows the relationship and overlaps between various concepts. Indeed, it
shows almost all the concepts can contribute in some way to improving New Zealand’s built
environment.
The centre section of the diagram provides a summarised definition of each concept. The
bottom section identifies key reference material for those requiring greater detail.
Figure 3.2 uses the terminology in Figure 3.1 to explain the connection between Reed’s
concepts (restoration, reconciliatory and regeneration), and the terms eco-efficiency and cradle-
to-cradle as described by McDonough and Braungart (2002). References to the terms ‘bio-
inspired’ design and ‘ecological’ design are commonly associated with leading-edge
sustainability design and, while not further analysed in this document, have been included in the
diagram for clarity.
10 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Conventional and eco-efficiency concepts in the left-hand columns are separated from the
approaches that seek to maximise mutually-beneficial interactions between the human and non-
human elements of the built environment. The gap between the two represents the shift in
thinking that is required to achieve a fully sustainable built environment.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 11
Figure 3.2: Connections between concepts of sustainability and regeneration
Bio-inspired
design
Cradle-to-
cradle
Restorative
design
Ecological
design
Reconciliatory
design
Regenerative
development
Conventional
Business-
as-usual
Green Sustainable
Eco-efficiency
Integrated approach
Conventional
Little or no
consideration is
given to the
environmental
impact of the
design.
Designs generally
aim to meet
minimum legal
requirements for
the lowest first cost
price.
A rapidly expanding
segment of
business-as-usual
is termed green
and moving
towards becoming
more sustainable.
Eco-efficiency
Green design:
Does not challenge
current production
methods or
consumption patterns
that have negative
environmental impact
(termed ‘bad’ design).
Minimises energy
use, pollution and
waste (termed ‘less
bad’ design).
Sustainable design:
Achieves neutral
environmental impact
and maximum
efficiency.
Restorative design
Questions how
humans can restore
ecosystems
through
development.
Acknowledges
environmental
damage done by
human activities
and seeks to
redress this through
further
development.
Is a process of
humans managing
and manipulating
ecosystems.
Cradle-to-cradle
Questions and redesigns
the goals and methods of
design to produce
products, buildings or
systems without negative
environmental or social
outcomes (termed ‘good’
design).
Restores health of
water/soil/air.
Eliminates waste by using
100% biodegradable or
100% recyclable
materials. Waste then
becomes resource. This
is termed ‘waste equals
food’.
May extend to economic,
business and social
structures also.
Bio-inspired design
Design that has an
understanding of the
relationships between
biology/ecology and
humans to improve
human technology
(biomimicry) or to
improve human
psychological well-
being (biophilia).
May result in
regenerative,
restorative, eco-efficient
or conventional
outcomes depending
on the understanding of
the design team. It has
the potential to
contribute to
regenerative design
goals.
Ecological design
Design that creates
processes that are
compatible with
nature and may be
mutually beneficial
for improved human
and non-human
health.
Design strategies
may be modelled on
ecosystems.
Reconciliatory
design
Acknowledges
humans as an
integral part of
nature and that
the two operate
in one system.
Regenerative development
Questions how humans can
participate in ecosystems
through development to create
optimum health.
Sees humans, human
developments, social structures
and cultural concerns as an
inherent part of ecosystems.
Seeks to create or restore
capacity of ecosystems and
bio-geological cycles to function
without human management.
Understanding the diversity and
uniqueness of each place
(socially, culturally and
environmentally) is crucial to
the design.
Sees the design process as
ongoing and indefinite.
(McDonough and
Braungart, 2002,
Reed, 2007b)
(McDonough and
Braungart, 2002)
(Couchman, 2007;
Reed, 2007)
(McDonough and
Braungart, 2002)
(Benyus, 1997; Pedersen
Zari, 2008; Pedersen Zari
and Storey, 2007)
(Graham, 2003; Kibert,
Sendzimir, and Guy,
2002; Van der Ryn and
Pena, 2002)
(Reed, 2007) (Cole, Charest, and Schroeder
2006; Reed, 2007)
Integrated approach
Coordination of planning and management activities associated with land use and land resources (including buildings, transport, urban design and infrastructure) to achieve additional value.
May result in regenerative, restorative, eco-efficient or conventional outcomes.
United Nations Division for Sustainable Development (2004)
12 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
4 The Value of a Sustainable Built
Environment
In this section:
To commit to the change in thinking needed, we need to be confident the concepts
discussed in this document provide tangible and valuable outcomes. This section
therefore explores different aspects of the value and opportunities that would be gained
by:
taking an integrated approach to development (4.1)
perceiving the built environment as a closed and inter-dependent system (4.2)
identifying the environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits of each approach
(4.3).
Value is defined as merit. This is the reason why a particular path should be taken, or the
initial benefit it would provide. Opportunities refer to the consequences we could expect
from taking that path – what’s in it for us if we do.
Value and opportunities are identified in several ways in order to give us a richer picture
of the benefits associated with each concept. This allows a more detailed consideration of
what could be gained by taking a more, rather that less, complex systems approach to the
built environment.
This section also includes:
an assessment of implementing the different approaches over the short, medium and long
terms (4.4)
an assessment of the challenges and opportunities for implementation (4.5).
4.1 Taking an integrated approach to a
sustainable built environment
Taking an integrated approach to development is primarily about the process employed. It is
useful to consider the merits of such a co-ordinated approach before considering the relative
merits of each concept.
Integration can occur within, and between, participants in the development process and between
different policy or implementation agencies, irrespective of the design concept used. It focuses
on coordinating planning and management activities associated with land use and land resources
to achieve additional economic, social and environmental value (United Nations, 1991). This
can apply to several levels: the site; the neighbourhood; the town or city; or the region.
Integrated approaches to development are not new. In New Zealand, the benefits of this
approach are recognised in the Value Case for Urban Design (McIndoe et al, 2005), and in the
Urban Design Protocol. In particular, the principle of collaboration reflects the value of
integrated decision-making.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 13
In the authors’ opinion, a sustainable built environment is not possible without adopting an
integrated approach. In fact, the definition of a whole-systems approach to a sustainable built
environment assumes an integrated approach will be used to bring the various components
together and develop the necessary ‘sense of place’.
Participants’ familiarity with business-as-usual may sway them toward adopting conventional
outcomes rather than risk working with unfamiliar concepts such as cradle-to-cradle, restorative
and regenerative development. Little data exists to quantify the value and opportunities
associated with taking an integrated approach, but the evidence available is summarised in the
bullet points below. The information comes from the literature review, input from the external
peer reviewers and the authors’ professional knowledge.
Improved participation through improved processes: An integrated approach to
development includes participatory approaches to engage communities and stakeholders
in the establishment of place-based and locally relevant development that can incorporate
indigenous knowledge. The degree of participation can affect the outcome, result in a
greater level of community ownership for the project and its outcomes, and help develop
a ‘common voice’ for the built environment (Hall, 2008).
The building blocks exist: New Zealand already has a limited policy framework in place
to support adopting an integrated approach. It is consistent with the Resource
Management Act 1991 and amendments, as well as other legislation such as the Local
Government Act 2002 and the Land Transport Management Act 2003. This framework
may need considerable strengthening however.
Wider benefits for the built environment: Adopting an integrated approach can deliver
wider benefits than conventional development, including improved access to
transportation, community facilities and employment opportunities. Benefits include
improvements to public facilities, new connections, new urban spaces, comprehensive
environmental improvements and other community-building activities, in tandem with
new built form and major infrastructure (Fuller, 2008). This is consistent with urban
development approaches such as Smart Growth2 and Transit-oriented Development,3
which are already being explored and implemented in New Zealand.
Provides a bridge from where we are to where we need to be: Because it is holistic, an
integrated approach naturally aligns with regenerative and restorative development and
design. It may potentially act as a bridge for moving from eco-efficiency to a more
ecologically positive outcome, particularly if it extends beyond the design professions to
include project stakeholders, professional institutions and governing authorities (Yang
et al, 2005).
Wider benefits beyond the build environment: Because an integrated approach focuses
on social, economic and spatial integration of the built environment, it can deliver wider
positive outcomes, in the areas of health or economics for example. It can also be
expanded to address other issues, including responses to climate change and increasing
community resilience.
2 Smart Growth is anti-sprawl development that advocates compact, walkable cities, with a variety of
transport, mixed use and housing.
3 Transit-oriented Development or Transit-oriented Design is focused on the creation of compact, walkable
communities centred around high quality train systems.
14 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Identifies the best solutions: An integrated approach can help identify the most
productive solutions in terms of cost, functionality and sustainability (United Nations
Division for Sustainable Development, 2004). It allows trade-offs to be explored, such as
between building design and infrastructure requirements, or between urban form and
resource efficiency (Moffatt, 2006). Such a process allows a development team to
understand: where elements of the development should be located; how they should be
designed; how resources and energy should be consumed; how the land has and will
develop over time; and where services should be supplied (CABE, 2007). Opportunities
arising from relationships between elements of the built environment may result in the
value and capacity of a whole development or system becoming greater that the sum of its
parts.
Fosters cost effectiveness: An integrated approach allows leverage points to be identified
at which the most change can be achieved for the least effort (Natural Logic Inc, 2003).
It can also identify opportunities to take advantage of public/private relationships,
depending on the extent to which an integrated approach is adopted.
4.2 Perceiving the built environment as a
system
The value and opportunities derived from a sustainable built environment depend in part on how
its many and varied components are addressed. They could be considered individually for
example, or as parts of an inter-dependent system that includes the buildings, transport,
infrastructure, places, spaces and networks that make up towns and cities.
Table 4.1 identifies how the approaches discussed in this document address components of the
built environment.
Working from left to right, Table 4.1 is a continuum from single-issue responses, through to a
strategic, comprehensive response. This is the essence of a whole-systems approach. A
conventional approach emphasises a building’s performance as the central element, while a
whole-systems approach goes beyond single buildings to emphasise the connections between all
the built environment’s components, such as the interactions between buildings and transport,
and/or infrastructure and buildings.
The relative lack of real life examples of built environments which use cradle-to-cradle,
restorative and regenerative approaches means that the connections identified in Table 4.1
remain largely theoretical. However, the authors believe that a built environment developed
using conventional or eco-efficiency approaches (business-as-usual) would be less connected
than a built environment developed using a whole-systems approach.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 15
Table 4.1: The built environment as a system – comparing the different concepts
Conventional Eco-efficiency Cradle-to-cradle Restorative design Regenerative design
Single issue response – compliance focused.
Human-oriented only design (Kellert, 2004).
Resource-intensive.
Limited, but increasing, focus on energy efficiency
and individual building performance.
Use of building rating tools to measure
performance, such as Green Star.
Single issue response.
Focused on individual building
performance.
Focused on reducing negative
environment impact.
Reduction of activity footprint.
Reduction of energy intensity of
goods and services.
Enhanced material recyclability.
Maximised use of sustainable
resources (Birkeland, 2002).
Focused on positive environmental
outcomes.
Focused on the process rather than
specifically looking at buildings,
humans or ecosystems.
Waste is seen as potential resource.
Emphasis on living systems and the
creation of producing and cycling
systems (McDonough, 2005).
Products should either have no waste
or be 100% recyclable.
Focused on positive
environmental outcomes.
Understands buildings as
existing within a wider
environmental context.
Focused on positive environmental outcomes.
Employs a flexible approach to building (Natural Logic Inc, 2003).
Uses advanced building techniques that emphasise the simplest
solutions (Natural Logic Inc, 2003).
Buildings are considered as elements of the landscape, rather than
as individual objects.
Buildings are responsive to the local environment (Lyle, 1993).
May incorporate strategies for positive psychological outcomes,
such as: the use of vernacular design (to add to a ‘sense of place’
and to provide climatically appropriate design); and the use of
biophilic design (the use of forms from nature) (Kellert, 2004).
Building
At higher development density, public transportation systems become more feasible. This is due to increased diversity within shorter distances and encourages greater non-vehicular transport such as walking and cycling
(Register, 1990).
The width between buildings is critical to how well streets work and their aesthetic qualities – it is a matter of appropriate scale.
Buildings clad in new generations of energy-making materials could alter their form to track the sun, enable greater shading or sunlight penetration while also producing energy.
Primarily single issue response. Some co-location
of infrastructure in road corridors.
Maximised use of sustainable
resources in development of single
issue response.
Integrated approach to infrastructure,
possibly incorporating ecological
principles.
Integrated approach to
infrastructure, incorporating an
understanding of ecological
principles.
Infrastructure is multi-functional and has multiple positive benefits,
for example waste-water infrastructure may be able to transform
and filter waste into health-giving resources (Pedersen Zari,
2008a).
Infrastructure
If buildings or neighbourhoods provide their own energy and water, and export energy or other resources to other areas, then pressure on infrastructure diminishes.
Transport network provides high degree of access,
mobility and anonymity (Fischer, 1993). It is focused
on getting from A to B in the fastest time possible.
Does not generally allow for other users of the road
network – walkers, cyclists and to lesser extent
buses. Limited focus on locating development near
transport hubs.
Enhanced material recyclability.
Maximise sustainable use of
resources.
Materials selection considers
embodied energy.
Use of recycled materials.
Provides connectivity between
communities, and land uses, such as
urban forests, neighbourhoods and
riparian corridors (McDonough,
2002).
Looks at wider implications of
the transport network, such as
impacts on consumption of
resources, air quality, ozone
depletion and on isolating
communities (Berkebile,
1993).
Multiple positive uses for the transport network.
Focus shifts from only moving from A to B, to providing for
interaction between transport network, the rest of the built
environment, and the wider community or eco-system.
Need for travel diminishes.
Transport
Streets have a ‘place function’. This means that they contribute positively to how users of the built environment experience their surroundings, and how easily navigable those surrounding are.
The movement framework can affect how much people walk or cycle, the level of public transport use, the sustainability of the community and its environment and quality of life (Department of Transport et al, 2007).
Good design is fundamental to achieving high-quality, attractive places that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Places often fail because of poor relationships between dwellings and streets (Department
of Transport et al, 2007).
Walkable neighbourhoods are typically characterised by having a range of facilities available to residents that can be accessed comfortably on foot. Making the local environment convenient and attractive to walk in can help
enhance the vibrancy of a community and reduce reliance on motor transport (Department of Transport, 2007).
The design of transport infrastructure must incorporate drainage, utilities and street lighting. Using streets as more than transport corridors for motor vehicles enhances their usability and connections to the built environment.
Urban design Some incorporation of urban design into
development.
Adoption of New Zealand Urban Design Protocol
as driver of quality urban design.
Aims for neutral environmental impact
through minimising resource use and
focus on materials selection.
Helps reduce runoff from vehicle to
water and emissions to air and
atmosphere through quality design.
Encourages the conservation of
non-renewable resources.
Architectural and community designs
create beneficial ecological footprints.
This may translate into more habitat,
wetlands and clean water, for
example, rather than an emphasis on
fewer negative emissions as a design
goal (McDonough, 2002).
Works with nature to restore
ecosystems (Kellert, 2004).
Buildings and neighbourhoods
respond to environment like
living systems (Berkebile,
1993).
Focused on place-based design to create development with a best
fit for a specific context (Reed, 2007b).
Engages with people to identify and develop the sense of place.
Restores or creates capacity of ecosystems and bio-geochemical
cycles to function optimally without human intervention (Reed,
2007b).
Responds to and maintains local character.
Less connected More connected
16 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
4.3 Identifying environmental, economic, social
and cultural benefits
This section looks at the specific environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits offered
by particular approaches.
While environmental or economic benefits are relatively easy to identify and categorise,
identifying and quantifying social and cultural benefits is more difficult. In this research
document, ‘social’ benefits are defined as those related to quality of life, welfare and positive
relationships between humans in a community. Cultural benefits are those that relate to a
distinct way of living, based around shared values or knowledge of a specific society. While
there are inevitably overlaps between these two categories, the authors believe there is merit in
considering the two categories separately, particularly in the New Zealand context.
The coloured boxes on the left of Table 4.2 show which benefits apply to each of the
approaches, and highlights where they overlap in sharing benefits. It is anticipated that the
benefits will be greater moving from eco-efficiency (orange) to regenerative (dark green).
The blue boxes on the right of the table represent the different types of benefits: environmental,
social, economic and cultural.
Many of the 16 benefits are based on theoretical evidence arising from the literature review. As
there are limited real world examples, especially for the cradle-to-cradle, restorative and
regenerative concepts, the authors have adopted an approach similar to that taken in The Value
Case for Urban Design (McIndoe et al, 2005) – *** indicates conclusive evidence, ** indicates
strong evidence, and * indicates suggestive evidence.
Because the field of literature about regenerative, restorative and cradle-to-cradle concepts is
relatively small, literature from related areas of research has been used in gathering evidence.
Readers should note that every positive outcome represented by a particular benefit will not
necessarily arise in every instance that an approach is applied. As well, some of the benefits are
aspirational because they have not yet been measured in a built context.
Table 4.2 clearly demonstrates that the regenerative development approach offers the most
benefits.
The benefits specific to each approach are explored in more depth in sections 4.3.1–4.3.5 and
the case studies in section 5. Additional explanations and evidence are available from the
references listed at the end of this document and cited in the discussion that follows. Readers
should also refer to other Ministry for the Environment reports including: The Value of Urban
Design (McIndoe et al, 2005) and The Value Case for Sustainable Building in New Zealand
(Fullbrook et al, 2006).
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 17
Table 4.2: Environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits
Conventional Eco-
efficiency
Cradle-
to-cradle
Restoration Regeneration Benefits of conventional, eco-efficient, cradle-to-cradle, restorative and
regenerative approaches
Environmental Economic Social Cultural
1. Works within current mode of thinking. *
2. Reduced environmental impact. *** *** *** **
3. Increased human physical health. *** *** *** **
4. Increased psychological well-being. * *** *** **
5. Reduced economic costs (over life cycle). ** ***
6. Increased economic value of project. ** *
7. Increased innovation in projects. * *
8. Positive environmental impact. *** *** *** **
9. Building/development becomes a potential source of income. * *
10. Changing relationship to nature. ‘Deeper and more enduring’. * ** *
11. Manageable and meaningful approach to global issues through a
place-based approach.
* * *
12. More integrated and therefore accurate knowledge of place. * * * *
13. Mutually beneficial relationships are created between people and place. *** *** **
14. Increased robustness, flexibility and adaptability in the face of
climate change.
* * * *
15. Creates stronger, more equitable communities. * * * *
16. Increased creation and celebration of rituals of place. * * **
18 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
4.3.1 Potential benefits of a conventional approach
This study found a conventional approach had just one potential benefit:
1 Works within current mode of thinking
The only benefit of a conventional approach may be that it is less challenging because it works
within the current mode of thinking in terms of design, and within existing economic and legal
frameworks (McDonough and Braungart, 2002). This may mean that projects can be completed
in shorter time periods, having potential economic benefits because there is no initial delay as
people learn about new ways of working (Reed, 2006).
4.3.2 Potential benefits of an eco-efficient approach
Birkeland (2002) provides a checklist of reduced environmental impacts offered by eco-
efficiency.
This study found an eco-efficient approach shares seven of the potential benefits in Table 4.2.
It shares the only benefit of the conventional approach; that time delays may not occur because
eco-efficiency also works within the current mode of thinking and can therefore be implemented
quickly.
Eco-efficiency offers the following additional benefits:
2 Reduced environmental impact
Reduced environmental impact is a significant benefit and perhaps the main motivation behind
eco-efficiency. Reduced (rather than no) environment impact is useful because it delays
environmental degradation while new methodologies and technologies are devised to remediate
or reverse past environmental damage (Couchman, 2007). A functioning and healthy natural
environment is vital for providing the ‘ecosystem goods and services’ that enable humans to
survive and thrive. This will be further discussed in subsequent sections.
3 Increased human physical health
‘Human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development…the primary
health needs of the world’s population are integral to the achievement of the goals of
sustainable development’ (UNCED, 1992).
There are substantial and well-documented links between a more sustainable built environment
and human health (WHO, 1992). Reductions in air, water and soil pollution lead to an
improved quality of indoor and outdoor urban environment for humans.
Thomas et al (2002) links increasing health care costs with non-sustainable built development.
There are also substantial economic impacts of ill-health leading to drops in human productivity
at work (Leaman and Bordass, 2001). This will be described in the following sections.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 19
4 Increased psychological well-being
Higher levels of psychological well-being, including occupant happiness, satisfaction, and
morale, have been documented with an approach to development that reduces environmental
degradation. While more difficult to measure, they lead to significant environmental, social,
cultural and economic benefits (Thomas et al, 2002).
Economic benefits include: increased productivity (up to 10 per cent according to New Zealand
case studies); less absenteeism from work; and greater customer satisfaction. This is related to
improved lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling (Leaman and Bordass, 2001; Storey and
Pedersen Zari, 2006).
Benefits of increased psychological well-being that are both economic and social in nature
include: better staff retention; increased employment security; and the attraction of a more
highly skilled workforce into a community (Fullbrook et al, 2006).
Socially and culturally, development that enhances people’s psychological well-being may
contribute to positive change in relation to work ethics and values, community spirit and
interpersonal relationships, as well as identification with environmental responsibility (Storey
and Pedersen Zari, 2006). Increased psychological health also has direct links with increased
physical health, particularly in terms of immunity (Ryan and Deci, 2001).
5 Reduced economic costs (over life cycle)
A compelling economic case for sustainable building in New Zealand is made by Fullbrook et al
(2006). Reduced financial costs with such an approach include:
lower operating costs for energy, water and waste of up to 50 per cent
lower liability and risk leading to lower insurance rates
higher loan value and lower equity requirements.
They cite research that additional first costs may only be in the region of 2–6 per cent if eco-
efficiency measures are integrated into the design from the beginning of the project.
Environmentally, lower operating costs translate into less water being used, and potentially
fewer greenhouse gas emissions from reduced energy use.
6 Increased economic value of project
The psychological benefits of an eco-efficient approach to design suggest that resource efficient
architecture may be more appealing to a wide constituency of building users than conventional
buildings, leading to a marketing advantage (Storey and Pedersen Zari, 2006). Fullbrook et al
(2006) also discuss financial incentives of eco-efficient development. Benefits include:
increased rental rates
higher tenant retention rates
higher building value upon sale and appraisal
overall greater return on investment
building remains more viable in market down turns.
20 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
7 Increased innovation in projects
A focus on development or design that seeks to reduce environmental impact is more difficult
than a conventional approach to design. This may increase the creativity of design teams, and
the innovation of solutions to meet these increased challenges (Haggard et al, 2006).
4.3.3 Potential benefits of a cradle-to-cradle approach
Appendix C includes The Hannover Principles, developed by William McDonough for the
World’s Fair, Hannover, Germany, in 2000. These relate to the concept of cradle-to-cradle
design. Its benefits include those outlined in section 4.3.2, with the addition of the following:
8 Positive environmental impact
De Groot et al (2002) examine the importance of the goods and services which ecosystems
provide and present an overview of recent research demonstrating the value of healthy
ecosystems to humans. Costanza et al (1997) state that:
‘The services of ecological systems ... are critical to the functioning of the Earth’s life-
support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and
therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. We have estimated the
current economic value of ... ecosystem services ... to be an average of US$33 trillion per
year … this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is
around US$18 trillion per year.’
Daily et al (2000) suggest that such ecological accounting has been used to determine that, in
most cases, it is more economically advantageous to conserve or restore aspects of ecosystems
than to replace them with human-made systems.
Development approaches that aim for positive environmental impact and that understand and
support existing ecosystems may increase the productivity of land. Remediating polluted
brownfield sites and waterways for example, enables plants and animals (including humans) to
grow and thrive more readily. This means yields of produce or other useful resources may
increase and result in economic benefits. Social and cultural benefits also accrue due to
increased employment and higher levels of health.
9 Building/development becomes a potential source of income
As discussed, whole-of-life financial costs of an eco-efficient development are generally lower
than those of a conventional development. It is expected that operating costs with a cradle-to-
cradle, restorative or regenerative approach would be lower still. If a development is to produce
more energy and resources than it consumes, as suggested by McDonough and Braungart
(2002), there is potential that these extra resources (potentially energy, water, food) can be on-
sold. This could have economic benefits as well as social benefits arising from greater
prosperity and employment.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 21
10 Changing relationship to nature – deeper and more enduring
Wilson (1984) argues that there is an innate psychological need for humans to be in a positive
relationship with other life forms, and that there is substantial evidence to make such a claim.
Living forms and their geometric characteristics must be preserved because of the ‘neurological
nourishment’ they provide. This is echoed by Heerwagen and Orians, who state that ‘a
biologically impoverished planet will not only reduce humanity’s economic options, it will
diminish our emotional lives as well’ (Kellert and Wilson, 1993). A more enduring relationship
with nature, may positively affect human behaviour, which is described as the most significant
underlying cause of environmental degradation (Walsh, 1992).
4.3.4 Potential benefits of a restorative approach
The benefits of restorative design include those outlined in sections 4.3.2 and 4.3.3, with the
addition of the following:
11 Manageable and meaningful approach to global issues through a
place-based approach
Reed (2007b) argues that place-based approaches to increasing the sustainability of the built
environment are not inconsistent with global-scale approaches, and that place-based
engagement can frame and integrate planetary issues so that they become more accessible and
meaningful for people. This has environmental benefits as people may begin to positively
address global human-caused environment degradation at a local level. With a place-based
approach, people are able to engage with the issues without feeling overwhelmed, and to
achieve tangible, potentially visible results that directly benefit their local ecosystems and
communities.
12 More integrated and therefore accurate knowledge of place
Understanding how complex local ecosystems work, and possibly how they worked before
development or human intervention, leads to a better understanding of how new development
can integrate into, engage with, and possibly regenerate an existing ecosystem (Reed, 2007a).
Understanding existing ecosystems and the relationships within them involves not only knowing
how elements of a system behave and what might influence this behaviour in general, but also
requires in-depth local knowledge of a specific place.
The benefit of an increased and more accurate understanding of a specific place enables more
effective development decisions to be made. This could have economic benefits in avoiding
development that will not work well for environmental, social or cultural reasons in a given
place. By understanding local microclimates and environments, unique or beneficial elements
of a place may potentially be taken advantage of in development.
22 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
13 Mutually beneficial relationships are created between people and
place
Acknowledging and celebrating an increased respect for, and care of, the living world reinforces
both environmental and psychological well-being. Kellert (2005) states for example that:
‘... communities with higher environmental quality [have] more positive environmental
values and a higher quality of life, whereas those with lower environmental quality [tend]
to reveal less environmental interest and [have] a lower quality of life’.
4.3.5 Potential benefits of a regenerative approach
Reed (2006) discusses the importance of creating and maintaining relationships:
‘... there is really no such thing as a “regenerative project” and nor can there be. An
object by itself cannot be regenerative, it’s about the relationships between the objects and
how they are continually evolving that makes them regenerative.’
Regeneration therefore is a process of engagement rather than a set of outcomes. This process
of engagement has significant environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits related to
community building and participation in addition to those already outlined in the sections 4.3.2–
4.3.4.
[Appendix B includes a list of Aspects of Regenerative Development.]
14 Increased robustness, flexibility and adaptability in the face of
climate change
By taking a systems-based approach to design and emphasising the creation of relationships,
more feedback mechanisms or lines of communication are set up between people, and between
people and the other parts of the system, both living and non-living. The benefits of this are that
the project becomes more flexible and adaptable in the future.
Environmentally, this means more efficient and effective use of resources and prevention of
waste. This may also support conservation of non-renewable resources. Economic benefits
include extending the useful economic life of the project by delaying the loss of ‘vitality and
functionality’ (McIndoe et al, 2005).
It has been proven that changes to the environment, including climate change, are occurring at
present and will continue to do so with increasing frequency (IPCC, 2001). These changes will
impact on the built environment in a number of economically and socially negative ways.
Strategies for increasing the adaptability of the built environment will therefore have significant
benefits (described in more detail by O’Connell and Hargreaves, 2004). Increased adaptability
will also mean the built environment supports and contributes to changing social expectations
and needs, and enables a project to resist functional obsolescence. This allows for greater
conservation of the embodied energy and resource held within the built environment.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 23
15 Creates stronger, more equitable communities
Several researchers describe regenerative development as able to create stronger more equitable
communities through its participatory, integrated and locally-based approach (Couchman, 2007,
Reed, 2007). Haggard (2006) describes such a process as enabling a:
‘... reawakening [of] the connection people experience between themselves and the places
they inhabit’.
A participatory approach focuses on creating and maintaining relationships in a community
through the engagement of lay people in the development process. Social benefits of a more
participatory approach include:
an improved correlation between user needs or aspirations and design outcomes
an enhanced sense of community
an enhanced sense of well-being
enhanced democratic processes
an increased sense of ownership and belonging to the project.
Economically, a participatory approach that includes users in the design process has the benefit
of using resources more effectively, and of cost savings achieved by user support for positive
change. Loomis (2000) also discusses the necessity of a functional and strong civil society for
successful economic development.
Integrated decision-making is an aspect of regenerative design as described by Reed (2007b).
Benefits of this include a co-ordination of physical design and policy across different areas to
enhance or create additional benefits. Socially, advantages are more available and accessible
due to increased opportunities for engagement and sharing of information through more
effective design outcomes (McIndoe et al, 2005).
A strong emphasis on local traditions and indigenous knowledge of place means that cultural
identity is preserved and/or created:
‘When this relationship among culture, environment, and architecture is pronounced, these
places become alive for us, a part of our collective consciousness and identity’ (Kellert,
2005).
This is particularly significant in New Zealand given existing tangata whenua traditions and
knowledge related to specific places. The importance of an approach to development that
includes indigenous knowledge is outlined by Loomis (2000), who states that there is a growing
realisation that indigenous knowledge can contribute to the success of a development project.
This could strengthen tauiwi (non-Māori) New Zealanders’ connection to and celebration of
place through an understanding of the knowledge of tangata whenua and potentially through
cross-cultural collaboration. Voyle and Simmons (1999) also point out potential positive health
outcomes for tangata whenua when community development is participatory and empowering.
Political efficacy, improved quality of community life, and improved social justice are also
listed as benefits of collaborative community development strategies, and are consistent with a
regenerative approach to development.
24 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
McIndoe et al (2005) describe several environmental, economic and social benefits of creating
or maintaining local character in urban design. They suggest there are links between the
conservation of non-renewable resources and increased local character. They also discuss an
enhanced sense of identity among residents and their greater participation in maintenance and
care for where they live. Economic benefits include: a premium for house and land values; a
competitive edge created by ‘a point of difference’; assistance in promoting and branding
regions; and the attraction of skilled workers and new enterprises to the region. Unique and
distinctly New Zealand urban environments may also have benefits for the tourism industry.
16 Increased creation and celebration of ritual of place
A consequence of a regenerative approach is a greater understanding, appreciation for, and
celebration of local rituals of place (Reed, 2007). Design elements that facilitate and celebrate
personal and cultural ritual further enhance the particularity and personality of the space and
help to make it unique (Storey and Pedersen Zari, 2006). A unique sense of place may increase
connection to, and pride in a place, leading to increased care and respect for that place. This
means the built environment will be better maintained and therefore will last longer. A spatial
environment that allows for cultural expression also has obvious social and cultural benefits.
4.4 The timeframe to implement sustainable
built environments
This section assesses the short, medium and long-term opportunities offered by adopting each of
the different approaches. For the purposes of this research document, short term is defined as
five years, medium term is 40 years, and long term is 80 years. An 80-year time period relates
to the average life of a building and a reasonable expectation of a human life in New Zealand
(O’Connell and Hargreaves, 2004).
Several authors also emphasise the need to look beyond a human generation for an ‘extra long
term’ timeframe of several hundreds of years (Wheeler, 2004). This is consistent with
indigenous perceptions, particularly around establishing a ‘sense of place’, which can take
considerable time to develop. In discussing the creation of a world of health and prosperity for
‘... the children of all species, not just our own, for all time’, McDonough and Braungart (2002)
point out that ‘... this is going to take us all, and it is going to take forever, but then that’s the
point’.
Other researchers suggest timeframes be extended into the past as well, to understand what has
already happened and how it impacts on the present and future decision-making (Reed 2006).
Table 4.3 provides a timeline for implementing the four main concepts discussed in this report,
in particular looking at the benefits that may accrue from adopting a particular approach. It
shows that an eco-efficient approach is likely to become redundant in the short- to medium-
term, and that the most viable long-term option is the regenerative approach. This is further
discussed in 4.4.2–4.4.4.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 25
Table 4.3: Timeline for implementation
Short term
(5 years)
Medium term
(40 years)
Long term
(80 years)
Extra long term
(?)
Eco-efficiency May continue to
contribute to the rapid
transformation of
‘business-as-usual’
resulting in decreased
environmental
degradation.
May phase out as legal
requirements change,
environmental issues
become more urgent
and expectation of
building performance
changes.
Cradle-to-cradle May contribute to a
change in thinking and
more realised projects.
May be incorporated
into a regenerative
approach.
Restorative
design
May contribute to a
change in thinking and
more realised projects.
May be incorporated
into a regenerative
approach.
Regenerative
development
May contribute to
changes in thinking
about the ecological
goals of development.
‘Cherry picking’ of the
easier parts of
regenerative design
may continue to
appear in projects.
Realised
demonstration projects
may increase in
number and scale and
are analysed.
Regenerative theory
may become solidified.
The built environment
may be more
successfully integrated
with ecosystems with
greater ecological,
economic, social and
cultural health
outcomes.
A dynamic, fully
sustainable built
environment may
emerge with greater
ecological, economic,
social and cultural
health.
Ecosystems and bio-
diversity indicators
may become healthier.
Built environment
becomes more robust
as climate continues to
change.
Figure 4.1 builds on the information in Table 4.3 by using a timeline to show how the shift will
occur from a conventional approach to a regenerative or fully sustainable built environment.
Rather than a simple transition, a paradigm shift is needed.
Figure 4.1: Achieving positive environmental outcomes
Conventional
NEGATIVE
ENVIRONMENTAL
OUTCOME
Eco-efficiency,
green, sustainable
ZERO STATE
Cradle-to-cradle, restorative
and regenerative
development
POSITIVE OUTCOME
Paradigm shift
Business as usual
in New Zealand
5 years 40 years 80 years 100+ years
Conventional
NEGATIVE
ENVIRONMENTAL
OUTCOME
Eco-efficiency,
green, sustainable
ZERO STATE
Cradle-to-cradle, restorative
and regenerative
development
POSITIVE OUTCOME
Paradigm shift
Business as usual
in New Zealand
5 years 40 years 80 years 100+ years
26 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
4.4.1 Short term – five years (2013)
Eco-efficiency
In the short term, eco-efficiency is already rapidly transforming business-as-usual in the context
of New Zealand’s built environment. This is demonstrated by the rising number of green
buildings and Green Star-certified buildings in New Zealand, and the work of the New Zealand
Green Building Council.
The concept of improving efficiencies and reducing pollution is well understood and already
appears in legislation such as the New Zealand Building Code. Eco-efficiency is clearly
valuable in the short term to reduce the negative environmental impact of the built environment
while other medium- and long-term strategies are developed and tested.
There is increasing urgency to reduce and reverse negative human environmental impacts as
these become better understood, especially with regard to climate change. The built
environment as principal habitat of humans must respond to this. Eco-efficient design, while an
improvement on conventional design, uses incremental steps to produce a built environment
with zero impacts, and therefore ultimately still results in negative environmental outcomes
(Reed, 2007).
Cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development
The concepts of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development share a common
goal of positive environmental outcomes through human development, rather than a
continuation of negative or zero environmental impact. Haggard (2002) suggests that a
regenerative approach is synergistic with current green building practice and can amplify its
effectiveness by seeing green technologies and methodologies as part of an interactive whole
system.
In the short term, each of these design approaches may be useful in creating a change in
thinking that will lead to more positive outcomes in the medium and long term. The growing
number of realised projects that demonstrate these development approaches provide
opportunities for case studies and examples to help demonstrate their benefits and possibilities.
Realised projects also provide opportunities to experiment with and refine the design concepts,
methodologies and processes.
Because most existing case studies are not specific to New Zealand, the creation of
demonstration projects in New Zealand will be useful. Such projects can take several forms.
The concepts may be applied to new or existing individual buildings, neighbourhoods or
developments in the hope that these will eventually join up. Alternatively, the concepts could
be applied to larger developments or sections of cities, suburbs or new towns to more easily
demonstrate the benefits of a systems-based approach to design that is advocated by cradle-to-
cradle, restorative and regenerative design.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 27
4.4.2 Medium term – 40 years (2048)
Eco-efficiency
In the medium term, eco-efficiency may become less viable. Comprehensive arguments for
phasing it out and replacing it with the other approaches described in this report are given by
several authors, including McDonough and Braungart (2002).
Increased legislation and changing social expectations could require the use of energy sources
and materials for constructing, renovating and maintaining the built environment that are
without negative environmental impact. This may mean that designers will move away from an
eco-efficient paradigm.
In the medium term, it is likely the impacts of climate change and diminished resources, such as
oil, water and metals, could impact on the built environment and the economic context in which
it exists. A potentially rapid change in human settlement patterns could occur due to the
impacts of climate change, and also due to continuing urbanisation, population increase, and
changes in food and fuel availability. This may demand a different approach to the built
environment that goes beyond simply increasing efficiencies, and towards positive
environmental outcomes instead.
Cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development
In the medium term, cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative built environments are likely
to provide more suitable built environments for humans in a changing global context. Their
value will be positive environmental outcomes, benefits to human physical and psychological
health, and a more robust built environment that will have significant economic advantages,
particularly as the impacts of climate change may increase in intensity during this time period.
It is likely that during this period the concepts, methodologies and processes to ensure that built
environments increase the capacity of ecosystems (and therefore humans) to thrive, become
more clearly defined and will be exemplified in a growing number of realised built examples.
Urgency in addressing environmental degradation may determine that cradle-to-cradle and
restorative concepts become necessary strategies. Because a regenerative approach incorporates
the benefits of cradle-to-cradle and restorative design, they may be absorbed into this approach
over the medium to long term.
4.4.3 Long term – 80 years (2088)
Regenerative development
In the long and extra long term, a regenerative approach to the built environment, which
integrates with and is symbiotic with ecosystems, will more likely ensure a continuous suitable
environment for humans and other species. Over an extra long term, such an approach to
development is likely to strengthen ecosystems and reverse or repair some environmental
damage from current and past human patterns of living.
28 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Biological systems are evolving and dynamic, rather than steady state or ‘finished’ (Sahtouris,
2008). A fully sustainable built environment will need to incorporate and address this
dynamism. A dynamic environment is potentially more resilient, as it is more adaptive to
change. This is relevant in the long term as the climate continues to change.
As demonstrated in Table 4.2, a significant benefit of a regenerative approach to development
is its positive outcomes for human society and culture. These are less present in the restorative
and cradle-to-cradle approaches. The built environment is not responsible for all factors that
contribute to healthy communities, but a regenerative approach does potentially positively affect
aspects of this, such as cultural identity, personal satisfaction and psychological health.
Because a regenerative approach includes more than just a small design team in the design
processes and decision-making, this may contribute to the recognition of the indivisibility of
environmental, economic, social and cultural health.
4.5 Challenges to implementation
Aspects of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative architecture are already beginning to
emerge in the global built environment, but translation into comprehensive and widespread
examples of architecture or built environments has not been rapid. However, the growing
numbers of realised projects do provide opportunities for case studies that help demonstrate the
benefits and potentials.
One of the most significant challenges in New Zealand is simply the life cycle of existing
buildings and infrastructure. Both are long-term assets. The typical design life for
infrastructure in New Zealand is 100 years. For buildings it is 80 years. If progress towards a
fully sustainable built environment follows an eco-efficient approach only, significant
opportunities to influence the built environment may be missed for many decades to come. A
key consideration is how to build on progress to date to make the required shift to restorative or
regenerative development – particularly to address the barriers and subsequent challenges.
Research undertaken by the COST Action Programme,4 reported in Jones et al (2007),
identified six barriers to developing a more sustainable approach to the built environment. All
six barriers are considered relevant to the New Zealand context:
Sustainability requires a holistic approach across sectors and across environmental,
economic and social factors. This is different from the ‘silo’ approach of working within
well-defined disciplines, which is the traditional way of constructing and maintaining the
built environment.
Many projects are fast tracked and sustainability does not feature strongly, if at all, in
many of the day-to-day decision-making procedures. Even if a sustainable approach is
adopted in the early concept stages of a project design, it is often ill defined and lost when
it comes to the real time and cost pressures of the project programme.
4 COST – European Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research – is one of the longest
running European instruments supporting co-operation among scientists and researchers across Europe.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 29
There is a poor link between high- and low-level decision-makers and although
designers/technicians are often aware of sustainability issues, such issues are not often
included at high level and this prohibits their implementation and inclusion in practice. In
other words, design for sustainability is often appreciated by designers and there are an
increasing number of buildings that demonstrate sustainable design, but it is rarely a
priority for high-level decision-makers.
There are tools available to assist with incorporating sustainability into design, but they
are often theoretically based and do not take sufficient account of the needs of practice.
Also, there is a lack of knowledge and skills relating to what tools to use and how to use
them, and what indicators and benchmarks to relate to specific projects.
Most projects are driven by capital costs. There is a lack of information relating to
whole-life cost-benefits. Consequently, sustainability always appears as an additional
capital cost, whereas on a whole-life cost basis it can result in large cost savings.
There is a lack of knowledge transfer from one project to another, both in terms of the
positive benefits and the lessons learnt from any less successful measures. There is a
tendency to ‘greenwash’ projects and not make public any failures that occur. This has
sometimes resulted in a cynical attitude to sustainability, with rumours of failure
discouraging others. There is little hard evidence of success because designers and
developers are afraid of exposing failure.
30 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
5 Case Studies
This section includes:
case studies that illustrate real life application of the concepts of regenerative, restorative,
cradle-to-cradle and eco-efficient development.
references to further sources of information for each of the approaches.
Limited real world examples of fully sustainable development means much of the discussion in
this document is derived by considering potential benefits. This section presents real examples
to help show how those theoretical benefits translate into actual value, notwithstanding that
qualitative benefits are difficult to measure. While the four case studies do not provide an in-
depth analysis, they do provide a starting point for exploring the practical benefits of the various
approaches.
Each case study is formatted slightly differently, as consistent information is not available for
each. Some of the projects are in different stages of development.
5.1 Regenerative development
The Willow School, Gladstone, New Jersey, USA
Photo:
www.ecologicaldevelopment.com/willowschool.html
Designer: Phase I: Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, LLC;
Phase II: Hone+Associates; Landscape: Back to Nature.
Consultant: Regenesis Group
Willow School is a private primary school with a
focus on holistic education, for 200 pupils, aged
five to 13. The school has a strong focus on
sustainability and a living-systems approach to
education. The school site covers approximately
13 hectares.
During the school’s development, the founders
sought to include teaching environmental
stewardship as one of its three fundamental teaching
objectives, and to make its site a living classroom.
The school is designed around ecological system regeneration, including a constructed wetland
for wastewater paving, use of permeable paving, living roofs, bio swales for storm-water runoff,
wetland treatment of storm water, and collection of rainwater for irrigation and toilets. In
addition to the physical design, the educational programme helps the school and wider
community learn how they could work with the original land use – an extensive forest – to
increase its life-supporting capacity.
Materials used in the construction of the buildings used recycled or renewable materials, do not
emit toxins, and were locally sourced where possible.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 31
Outcomes
Willow School typifies a regenerative development, focusing on:
development of a sense of place
a living systems approach to development, which incorporates the development into the
existing ecosystems and works to restore them
positive environmental outcomes.
Commentary
The Willow School encourages the belief that everything is part of a complex living system – a
key component of a regenerative approach to development. The school buildings and wider site
design integrate with the curriculum to provide extended educational opportunities for students,
thereby incorporating the regenerative approach into the education system. Regenesis Group
actively worked with the site developers to help them understand and develop a sense of place,
which was then reflected in the ultimate development plan. Incorporation of high specification
green buildings (two LEED Gold and Platinum buildings) into the physical design of the school,
along with use of constructed stormwater management systems and other water management
techniques, makes a significant contribution towards regeneration of the site.
Further information and case studies
Brattleboro Food Co-op (www.brattleborofoodcoop.com and
www.regenesisgroup.com/userfiles/SampleProjects08.pdf)
Playa Viva, Mexico. Playa Viva is a residential regenerative development on Mexico’s
Pacific Coast (www.playaviva.com)
Loreto Bay, Mexico. A residential and vacation home development on the Baja
Peninsular in Mexico (www.loretobay.com)
5.2 Restorative development
Living Water Garden, Chengdu, China
Designer: Keepers of the Waters
Builder: The Chengdu Fu and Nan Rivers Comprehensive Revitalisation Project
The Living Water Garden was built by the Chengdu Fu and Nan Rivers Comprehensive
Revitalisation Project. It is a five-year plan to rebuild infrastructure to support Chengdu’s
growing population for the next 200 years.
32 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Photo: Chris Chen, Pocock design: environment
Each day, the Living Water Garden system
treats around 200 cubic metres of polluted
river water to a state where it is clean enough
to drink. The system diverts the polluted river
water through settling ponds, flow forms for
aeration, wetland plants, aquatic life ponds
and a fountain, before returning it to the river.
Water in the fountain is clean enough for
swimming.
Although the amount of water treated is
insufficient to affect overall river water
quality, it has been successful in teaching and
inspiring Chengdu’s inhabitants. The Garden is helping facilitate and build long-lasting
community relationships which are positively affecting acceptance of other environmental
projects.
The Garden includes the use of native plants, which at the time of development was unusual in
China. There is also a strong educational component, particularly about the value of water.
Outcomes
The Living Water Gardens typifies a restorative design project, focusing on:
working with nature to restore ecosystems
positive environmental outcomes
an integrated approach to planning infrastructure which incorporates an understanding of
ecological principles.
Commentary
The Living Water Garden exhibits characteristics of both restorative and regenerative design
approaches, showing that these approaches are not mutually exclusive. The project recognises
that it may be difficult to measure the success of all aspects of a design in the short timeframe of
a human lifetime and exemplifies designing for extra long timeframes.
Development of the Living Water Garden however, involved relocating thousands of people to a
new residential location to enable the Garden’s construction. This is an inherent conflict
between the values of the development to the wider community versus the rights of previous
occupants.
Further case studies
Living Waters Garden (www.keepersofthewaters.org/lwg.cfm)
CH2 building, Melbourne, Australia, designed by Mick Pearce. Council House 2 (CH2) is
an administrative building for the City of Melbourne, and displays some aspects of
restorative design (www.melbourne.vic.gov.au)
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 33
Waitangi Park, Wellington, New Zealand, designed by Wraight Athfield Landscape and
Architecture (www.wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz)
5.3 Cradle-to-cradle
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies,
Cleveland, USA
Photo: Barney Taxal, http://new.oberlin.edu/
Designer: McDonough and Partners
Owner: Oberlin College, Cleveland
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for
Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, is
located between Cleveland and Toledo in the
USA. The building is an ongoing green build
experiment, with more than 150 environmental
sensors installed throughout the building and
landscape to monitor performance. The data
monitoring and display system provides a
unique opportunity to visualise in real time the
flows of energy and cycling of matter that are
necessary to support the built environment.
McDonough and Partners designed the building to function like a tree. The building is powered
by the sun, embedded in local nutrient flows and beneficially produces more energy than it
consumes. Solar power is collected via rooftop cells. Wastewater is purified by a constructed
ecosystem that breaks down and digests organic matter and releases clean material. Design of
the building was a collaborative approach with students, designers, external consultants and
future occupiers.
From 1993 through 1998, designing the Lewis Center included these steps:
a group of students and David Orr, a lecturer at the College, researched alternative
technologies and design strategies and prepared an initial proposal for the building
student and faculty input was sought to define building goals and design it to meet their
needs
thirteen public design input sessions were held to solicit community ideas
students designed projects to further look into what specific systems and products the new
building should incorporate
the building is operational. Visitors to the Center’s website can view output from the
campus resource monitoring system. Students at the college can monitor their water and
energy use in real time to enable conservation of resources.
34 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Outcomes
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center is a very young system. The orchard, wetland and ecological
wastewater treatment systems continue to develop structure and function. Mechanical systems
are still being installed, adjusted and modified. The College considers that these changes imply
a steady increase in the performance of the Center, with greater improvement to come as the
system matures.
Commentary
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center exhibits the key characteristics of the nine Hannover Principles
devised by McDonough, which exemplify the concept of cradle-to-cradle development. The
building recognises the rights of humans and nature to co-exist, and their interdependence. The
building designers and occupiers accept responsibility for the consequences of design and the
ecological footprint the development leaves on the environment. The long-term value of the
Center is demonstrated through its incorporation into the educational structure of the college.
The Center is not only a demonstration of cradle-to-cradle for the wider community but a
fundamental learning tool for students.
Oberlin College is researching the short and long-term evolution of the system. Readers should
also refer to a number of post-occupancy studies done on the building.5 At this stage the Center
is not performing as well as originally thought, highlighting the evolutionary nature of the
system and the potential challenges associated with adopting new approaches. It is, however,
delivering valuable lessons and learning opportunities.
Further information and case studies
Adam Joseph Lewis Center (www.oberlin.edu/ajlc)
Nike’s European headquarters, Hilversum, The Netherlands
(www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/nike/default.asp?projID=nike)
5 US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Torcellini and Pless (November, 2004) Technical Paper
NREL/TP-550-33180 -Energy Performance Evaluation of an Educational Facility: The Adam Joseph Lewis
Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
(http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy05osti/33180.pdf).
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 35
5.4 Eco-efficiency
Conservation House, Wellington, New Zealand
Photo: Department of Conservation
Architect: Architecture+
Building owner: The Wellington Company
Building occupier: Department of Conservation
In searching for new headquarters, the Department of
Conservation requested an environmentally friendly building to
provide a safe, healthy and comfortable work environment for
its staff.
The chosen building was a refurbishment of an old cinema
complex in the centre of Wellington, New Zealand, adjacent to
key pedestrian routes within the city. A bus stop outside the
building provides access to much of the central city. The
building opened on 26 February 2007.
Project requirements:
optimise site potential
minimise energy consumption
protect and conserve water
use environmentally preferable products
enhance indoor environmental quality
optimise operational and maintenance practices.
Outcomes
Conservation House uses a number of passive, mechanical and staff behaviour strategies to
meet the project requirements. Eco-efficient attributes include:
capture of waste heat produced by the building’s heat pumps heats hot water
Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) provides for automatic daylight dimming
of perimeter lights
lighting choices minimise energy consumption and environmental impact of disposal at
end of life
collected rainwater is used in bathrooms, kitchens and for garden irrigation
low-flow fittings and fixtures with motion detectors located in bathrooms to reduce water
and energy consumption
transport alternatives provided through location next to bus stop and a bicycle park within
the building
a chilled-beam system uses water and air to control the internal environment. Cold water
circulates through a cooling coil, the surrounding cooled air descends to the office space
and is replaced by rising warmer air, creating an airflow cycle
36 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
the floor on the stairwell is produced from recycled car tyres. Soundproof panels in
meeting rooms are made from recycled milk bottle tops
the building design results in 60 per cent less water use and 40 per cent less energy
roof-top garden and social space helps build a sense of community
experimental urban, small-scale, vertical axis wind turbines for energy generation
innovative office level, waste management and minimisation practices.
Commentary
Conservation House provides an excellent illustration of eco-efficient design and the benefits of
a partnership approach to development. Of particular relevance is the reuse of an existing
building, rather than new construction. The refurbishment is very focused on the building and
its occupiers, which is consistent with eco-efficient design, and is essentially a single-issue
response. The approach taken in the refurbishment is directed towards a neutral impact, but
ultimately still degrades the environment.
Further information and case studies
Conservation House (www.doc.govt.nz/publications/about-doc/news/conservation-
house/)
Meridian Energy Building, Wellington, New Zealand, designed by Warren and Mahoney.
This is new office accommodation at Kumutoto Site 7 on Wellington’s waterfront
(www.meridianenergy.co.nz)
Curitiba, Brazil. A city built upon principles of integrated urban planning. In particular, the
transport system works on eco-efficient principles
(http://www3.iclei.org/localstrategies/summary/curitiba.html)
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 37
6 Opportunities for Further
Research
As a document intended to generate discussion, this report provides an overview of different
approaches to achieving a fully sustainable built environment. However, further research is
required to identify ways to overcome challenges and to further quantify the benefits associated
with a regenerative approach, in particular for central government organisations. Identified
further research questions include:
What are the negative environmental impacts of New Zealand’s built environment? What
would be the consequences of continuing with business-as-usual?
What opportunities specifically related to New Zealand communities and businesses
would arise from adopting cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development
approaches, and how can these be quantified? What are the opportunities and outcomes
associated with these development approaches over the extra long term?
How are qualitative opportunities and benefits associated with cradle-to-cradle,
restorative or regenerative development quantified in a way that is meaningful for central
government and other key organisations, sufficient to justify adoption of these
approaches? Are measuring qualitative benefits necessary or possible?
What are the New Zealand-specific barriers to adopting development models beyond eco-
efficiency in improving the built environment? What changes are required in the
business-as-usual approach to achieve regenerative development, for example? How do
land ownership and established legal land boundaries contribute to, or hinder,
regenerative approaches? Could the existing legislative and regulatory environment
accommodate a regenerative approach to the built environment? If not, what changes are
required to achieve the transition to regenerative development? How can New Zealand
implement projects that demonstrate such an approach?
How do these development approaches relate to tangata whenua perspectives, needs and
self determination?
How does adoption of these new development approaches link to other sustainability
initiatives currently active in New Zealand, in the public and private sector? Where are
the most effective places to intervene in the current system to affect positive change?
How can developments positively evolve over time through feedback?
What are the implications of taking an integrated approach to the built environment at a
national, regional and local level. How do participatory approaches to development relate
to these new development approaches?
How can New Zealand learn and benefit from international experiments and experience
in this area?
Would it be appropriate to establish a set of sustainable built environment principles for
New Zealand for the next 20–30 years? If so, what would these principles look like and
how would they be supported?
38 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
7 Conclusions
The existing built environment will largely still be in place in 50 years’ time given the current
rate of building in New Zealand. The continued development of a fully sustainable built
environment will therefore largely involve a retrofit of the existing built environment.
This research document explores different approaches to changing the built environment that
could contribute towards true sustainability. There are considerable benefits associated with
each, although the scale of the benefits change depending on the approach considered and the
timeframe in which it is applied.
This document evaluates each approach in a number of ways, including case study examples,
identifying benefits, and examining implementation over a range of time periods – from the
short term (five years), through to the extra long term (80+ years).
A number of key messages emerge from the research document:
addressing buildings, transport and infrastructure individually does not capitalise on a
whole-systems approach advocated by proponents of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and
regenerative development
cradle-to-cradle, and to a greater extent the restorative and regenerative concepts, are very
different to current or conventional processes for creating and maintaining the built
environment. A considerably wider definition of the built environment is needed to
facilitate implementation of these approaches
of the four concepts investigated, eco-efficiency offers the least direct social and cultural
benefits. The greatest potential economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits are
achieved through a regenerative approach. However, regenerative development also
requires the greatest shift in current thinking
an integrated approach offers considerable value for all the development approaches
discussed.
While there are currently limited real world examples of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and
regenerative developments, those projects that do exist provide valuable insight into their
implementation, and the shortcomings that need to be addressed.
The authors conclude that there are considerable opportunities for central government
organisations and others to take New Zealand forward to a more sustainable built environment,
to lead by example, and to help develop momentum for adoption of these approaches.
Short-term adoption of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development is required, to
produce New Zealand examples and demonstration projects, and to allow people to capitalise on
the long-term benefits. This could take several forms. These approaches may be applied to
individual projects with the intention that these eventually transform the urban context on a
building-by-building, or development-by-development basis. Alternatively, concepts could be
applied to neighbourhoods, larger developments, sections of cities, suburbs or potentially new
towns to more effectively demonstrate the benefits of a systems-based approach to design, as
advocated by proponents of cradle-to-cradle, restorative and regenerative development.
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 39
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42 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Appendix A: Recognising
Regenerative Development
Regenerative development recognises that humans, human developments, social structures and
cultural concerns are an inherent part of ecosystems.
It investigates how humans can participate in ecosystems through development, to create
optimum health for both human communities (physically, psychologically, socially, culturally
and economically) and other living organisms and systems.
How to recognise regenerative development
1. The development is a positive contributor6 to the living systems (biotic and human) in
which it occurs.
2. The development is an instrument for achieving true sustainability through creating
living systems with the capacity to carry on continuous evolution.
3. The development is a source of deeper meaning and significance, and new potential
for all who engage in it.
How to create/design/begin regenerative development
1. Understand the whole system or master pattern of place beyond site boundaries.
Translate these patterns into design guidelines.
2. Understand and base design on local reality (both ecological and cultural) rather than
theory alone.
3. Understand and align the human aspirations of a project. Understand that the diversity
and uniqueness of each place (socially, culturally and environmentally) is crucial to the
design. Use this to define the project and to create a sense of place.
4. Leverage and understand relationships and systems.
5. Use multidisciplinary knowledge and design teams.
6. Design to allow complexity and ongoing feedback and dialogue processes that allow the
development to evolve over long time periods.
7. Use integrated and participatory design and construction processes.
8. Conserve, restore, and regenerate ecosystems. Seek to create or restore the capacity of
ecosystems and bio-geological cycles to function without human management.
Adapted from Reed (2007) and Pedersen Zari (2008a).
6 For example, the development may clean water, clean air, build soil, create energy, turn waste into resource
...
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 43
Appendix B: Cradle-to-cradle
Development
The Hannover Principles, developed by William McDonough for World EXPO 2000, held in
Hannover, Germany (McDonough, 1992).
1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist.
2. Recognise interdependence.
3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter.
4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design.
5. Create safe objects of long-term value.
6. Eliminate the concept of waste.
7. Rely on natural energy flows.
8. Understand the limitations of design.
9. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge.
44 Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future
Appendix C: Eco-efficient Approach
Reduce material intensity of goods and service
Can the product or service be redesigned to make less use of material inputs?
Are there less material-intensive raw materials?
Can existing raw materials be produced or processed in less materially intense ways?
Would higher quality materials create less waste in later stages?
Can water consumption be reduced?
Can water, wastewater treatment, or waste disposal costs be allocated in budgets to encourage greater control?
Can yields be increased by better maintenance, control or other means?
Can waste be utilised?
Can products be made of smaller size, or a difference shape, to minimise material and packaging requirements?
Can the product or service be combined with others to reduce overall material intensity?
Can packaging be eliminated or reduced?
Can the product be reused, remanufactured, or recycled?
Reduce energy intensity of goods and service
Can raw materials be produced or dried with less renewable energy?
Would substitute materials or components reduce overall energy intensity?
Can energy costs be directly allocated to budgets to encourage better control?
Can energy be exchanged between processes?
Can waste heat be utilised?
Can processes be integrated to create energy savings?
Can processes or building energy consumption be better monitored and controlled?
Enhanced material recyclability
Can wastes from raw material production be reused or recycled?
Can process wastes be remanufactured, reused, or recycled?
Would separation of solid and liquid waste streams make recycling easier or reduce treatment costs?
Can product specifications be amended to enable greater use of recycled materials and components?
Can products be made of fewer or marked and easily recycled materials?
Can products be designed to facilitate customer use or revalorisation?
Can products be designed for easy disassembly?
Can product packaging be made more recyclable?
Can old products and components be remanufactured or reused?
Are there any opportunities to participate in waste exchange schemes?
Can energy be recovered from end-of-line products?
Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future 45
Maximise sustainable use of renewable resources
Can renewable or abundant materials be substituted for scarce, non-renewable, ones?
Can more use be made of resources that are certified as being sustainability produced?
Can more use be made of renewable energy in production and processing?
Are new buildings and refurbishments maximising use of passive heating and cooling?
Could better maintenance of boilers and other equipment improve energy efficiency?
Can processes of building be insulated more effectively?
Can more energy-efficient lighting be installed?
Is there scope for better energy housekeeping?
Can the energy efficiency of products in use be improved?
Can the product or services be combined with others to reduce overall energy intensity?
Can waste and end-of-life products be reused, remanufactured, recycled or incinerated?
Can products be made biodegradable or harmless so that less energy is required for disposal?
Can transport be reduced or greater use made of energy-efficient transport such as rail?
Are there incentives for employees to cycle, walk, use public transportation, or car-pool?
Reduce toxic dispersion
Can toxic dispersion be reduced or eliminated by using alternative raw materials or producing them differently?
Are products designed to ensure safe distribution, use, and disposal?
Can harmful substances be eliminated from production processes?
Can harmful substances generated in use be reduced or eliminated?
Can any remaining harmful substances be recycled or incinerated?
Are remaining harmful substances properly handled during production and disposal?
Are equipment and vehicles properly maintained so that emissions are kept to a minimum?
Extend product durability
Can products or components be made more modular to allow easy upgrading?
Can materials or processes be altered in order to improve longevity?
Can whatever aspects of the product that limit durability be redesigned?
Can maintenance of the product be improved?
Can customers be informed or educated about ways of extending product durability?
Increase the service intensity of goods and service
What services are customers really getting from your product? Can this be provided more effectively or in completely
different ways?
What services will customers need in the future? Can you design new or existing products to meet them?
Is your product providing other services as well as the most obvious one? Can these be accentuated or enhanced?
Can the product or service be integrated or synchronised with others to provide multi-functionally?
Can customer’s disposal problems be eliminated by providing a take-back service?
Can the properties of the product be accentuated or developed for greater customer value?
Can products be designed to facilitate customer reuse or revalorisation?
Can products be redesigned to make distribution and logistics easier?
Can the product be made easier for customers to dispose of?
Can production be localised to both enhance service and reduce transport needs?
Can products be transported or distributed by alternative means to enhance customer value and reduce environmental
impacts?
Source: Adapted from Birkeland (2002).
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Thesis
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The high energy consumed for air conditioning in buildings become a serious concern in the scientific research due to its negative consequences on the earth's ecological life. In nature, animals regulate their body temperature in extreme environments without using fuel or prejudice to their environmental system. Therefore, this study aims to emulate one of the biological cooling strategies to design passive cooling unit for buildings in the hot arid regions. It adopted a biomimetic exploratory method to determine three of the efficient biological cooling strategies in nature based on the morphological attributes. They are cooling through animals’ respiratory passages, thermal radiators and air flow cooling in termite mound. A comparative study was conducted on four case studies under each of the three cooling strategies to come up with the working principles that can be used as a guide to design biomimetic cooling system. One of these strategies, the camel nasal respiratory cooling, was simulated to design a cooling unit installed in wind tower for buildings in the hot arid regions. To validate the applicability of the camel nasal-inspired cooling design, a set of experimental tests have been conducted in one of the desert cities that is Seiyun in Yemen by using wind tower. The study main parameter was the design cooling efficiency for (i) three materials which were clay, clay with jute fiber and clay with wood wool pads, (ii) the design height, and (iii) climatic environmental variables. The results showed that the best cooling efficiency among the three materials was the design of clay with jute fiber 85.2 %, followed by clay with wood wool pads 76.6 %, and the clay design 66.3 %. The former two designs have effectively dropped the temperature in hot arid climate up to 18.9 °C for jute design and 16.5°C for wood wool design. This indicates that the bio-inspired design can replace the mechanical air conditioning system. Additionally, the cooling efficiency of the design increases by the increment of its height and the ambient temperature. However, it decreases with the increment of the inlet air wet-bulb temperature, air humidity, and air velocity. It is concluded that emulating biological thermo-regulatory strategies is useful to design energy-efficient buildings. This study contributed to proposing a new passive cooling design for buildings in the hot arid regions.
Thesis
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The Earth has witnessed a climate change and the global warming phenomenon, which leads to high temperature and increased natural disasters. This leads to many economic, environmental and social problems, affecting people, community resources and development activities. The facade of the building is responsible for energy and information exchange with the environment. It separates the internal environment and the external environment surrounding the building. The facades provide protection from external factors, climatic factors, natural light control, and improved energy performance in buildings. Nature-based approaches can provide sustainable solutions to meet the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation in order to conserve the ecosystems necessary for life. Nature is the source of inspiration for providing biological solutions for adaptation. Biology is no longer a research trend for biologists, but a new inspiration for technological thinking. Systems in nature provide a large database of strategies and mechanisms that can be achieved in the design of buildings inspired by nature. As a result of similarities between the building and living organisms, adaptation methods in nature can be applied to buildings’ facades that they can adapt to surrounding environmental changes. The facades play a major role in daylight control, which is a major energy source, and the facades are the only source of strength of the ecosystem. In addition to its importance in determining the personality of the building and users. Not only does it replace industrial light during the day, it also helps to reduce energy use in lighting, as it affects both heating and cooling loads, thus it is an indicator of efficient energy design. In addition, daylight provides comfort. These factors reflect the efficient daylight performance of the building.
Technical Report
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• Green space is needed in central city areas to provide health and wellbeing benefits for current and future residents, commuters and visitors, and increased amenity, liveability and economic benefits. Green spaces also provide ecosystem and resilience benefits that will help mitigate and adapt the city to climate change and other environmental shocks. • We report here on a detailed study of the provision of public green space in central Wellington City in relation to current and projected future population levels. • The study focused on the three Census Area Units (CAU) of central Wellington City. These CAUs contain a total of 41.19 ha of public green space. More than half of the central city’s public green space is located not in City parks and gardens but in road reserves or in other non-council areas, and some is of relatively low quality and poorly accessible. • The amount of green space per capita in each CAU is highest at 41m2 in Thorndon-Tinakori Road CAU, 23m2 in Lambton CAU, and lowest at 6m2 in Willis St-Cambridge Terrace CAU. There is a very significant lack of greenspace within 300m of the population-weighted centre of the Willis St– Cambridge Terrace CAU. • Green space amount per capita in central Wellington City declines substantially - by half on average - when projected population growth to 2043 for the three CAUs is considered. • Increasing the total amount, accessibility and quality of green space in the central city will need to be achieved in order to accommodate future population growth and fulfil a vision of “central city green spaces that enhance community and ecosystem health”. • A central city green space policy that achieves the maximum possible protection and optimal use of current green space, augmented by purchase of additional land in population growth areas, is most likely to meet the needs of residents and visitors, now and in the future.
Article
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An increasing amount of information is being collected on the ecological and socio-economic value of goods and services provided by natural and semi-natural ecosystems. However, much of this information appears scattered throughout a disciplinary academic literature, unpublished government agency reports, and across the World Wide Web. In addition, data on ecosystem goods and services often appears at incompatible scales of analysis and is classified differently by different authors. In order to make comparative ecological economic analysis possible, a standardized framework for the comprehensive assessment of ecosystem functions, goods and services is needed. In response to this challenge, this paper presents a conceptual framework and typology for describing, classifying and valuing ecosystem functions, goods and services in a clear and consistent manner. In the following analysis, a classification is given for the fullest possible range of 23 ecosystem functions that provide a much larger number of goods and services. In the second part of the paper, a checklist and matrix is provided, linking these ecosystem functions to the main ecological, socio–cultural and economic valuation methods.
Article
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This paper critically reviews current construction industry practice in environmental assessment, identifying gaps and shortcomings in current approaches when viewed from the wider perspective of sustainable development. Lack of common understanding is a significant problem. A number of blueprints for a more sustainable lifestyle which have merged from the business and manufacturing sectors such as 'natural step' and the 'service economy' are explored in order to identify changes that will be expected in the practice and procedures of the construction industry. This presents a considerable challenge, as the questions presented by the need to assess and create more sustainable buildings and cities require wider horizons, much greater resource efficiency and effective participation in decision making. Cet exposé examine de façon critique les usages courants de l'industrie du bâtiment en matière d'estimation écologique, en identifiant les lacunes et imperfections des approches actuelles, vues selon la perspective plus vaste de viabilité d'aménagement. L'absence d'un discernement commun constitue un sérieux problème. Un certain nombre de photocalques illustrant un style de vie plus viable et provenant des secteurs commercial et industriel, sur des sujets tels que ‘Démarche Naturell’ et ‘Economie de Service’, sont explorés, afin d'identifier les variations susceptibles d'apparaître dans la pratique et dans les procédés de l'industrie du bâtiment. Cela constitue un défi considérable, car les questions suscitées par la nécessité d'estimer et de créer des bâtiments et villes plus viables requièrent de plus vastes horizons, une efficacité des ressources beaucoup plus grande et une participation effective à la prise de décisions.
Conference Paper
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Any paradigm for next generation of green buildings must include user well-being and satisfaction as primary tenets. This is not easy to achieve, but unless we do incorporate these parameters, built outcomes are unlikely to be sustainable, even if they are resource efficient. This paper defines well-being as a holistic physical, psychological and metaphysical phenomenon, describes the benefits of well-being design and discusses the elements that are considered to be most influential in enhancing user’s holistic physiological and psychological well-being. It presents an overview of scientific research currently being undertaken in this area. Such research while in its infancy tends to validate the current intuitive design stance taken by many successful architects relative to designing for well-being and suggests that we could beneficially incorporate many of these well-being connected ideas into paradigm for next generation green buildings. It is concluded that if integrated with sustainable technologies, well-being enhancement factors can work synergistically, in our building designs, to enhance user happiness and satisfaction, improve user productivity, health, morale and vitality and are likely to make resource efficient architecture much more appealing to a wide constituency of building users than is currently the case. A more tentative assertion is that architecture that enhances people’s feeling of well-being could be an agent for positive change in relation to work ethics and values, community spirit and interpersonal relationships. If we can create places where people want to be, that delight, stimulate, rejuvenate, are in harmony with the environment and resource efficient, then we will have succeeded in creating a truly sustainable architecture.