The Brundtland report defines sustainability as follows:
Ability to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
From the moment a building or a civil work project is conceived (in either new construction or rehabilitation) sustainability must be taken into consideration, both in environmental, economic and social aspects. When speaking about buildings, evaluation and qualification systems (e.g. LEED) seek to quantify their behaviour and impacts, enabling them to be compared to other buildings.
The analysis method is based on life cycle analysis and on the use of indicators to measure the impacts.
The Life Cycle Analysis (L.C.A.) studies all the stages of the object of study, from the collection of resources, product manufacturing, construction and use of the building… to the end of its service life. This way, each impact is assigned to the phase in which it occurs. LCA allow us to get an overview of the impacts, and its practical limitation right now is the absence or inconsistent quality of the data available to evaluate them.
The indicator method is based on a set of measurable parameters related to sustainability criteria and, along with the LCA allow us to analyse the state of the system over time.
Environmental aspects of sustainability:
- Environmental impacts:
- Abiotic depletion potential (subdivided in elements and fossil fuels)
- Water and land acidification
- Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer
- Formation of tropospheric ozone
- Global warming potential
- Use of resources:
- Use of non-renewable energy as a primary energy source
- Use of renewable energy as a primary energy source
- Use of secondary materials
- Use of secondary fuels
- Use of freshwater resources
- Additional environmental information:
- Components for reuse
- Materials to be recycled
- Materials for energy recovery
- Non-hazardous waste disposal
- Hazardous waste disposal(non radioactive)
- Radioactive waste disposal
- Exported energy
Social aspects of sustainability:
- Special needs of people with disabilities.
- Access to the building services.
- Ability to adapt to the individual needs
- Ability to adapt to the change of needs
- Ability to adapt to the technical changes
- Ability to adapt to the change of uses
- Health and comfort
- Acoustic properties
- Indoor air quality
- Visual comfort properties
- Water quality
- Electromagnetic properties
- Special properties
- Thermal properties
- Neighbourhood issues
- Emissions to air, water and soil
- Glare and shadows
- Shock and vibrations
- Local wind impact
- Maintenance operations (consequences for users and neighbourhood)
- Resilience to climate change (Rain, wind, snow, floods, solar radiation, temperatures…)
- Resilience to accidental actions (earthquakes, explosions, fire, traffic impacts…)
- Personal safety and security against intruders and vandalism
- Safety against the disrupting the basic supplies
- Supply of materials and services
- Responsible supply and traceability of products and services
- involvement of stakeholders
- Give all parties involved the opportunity to participate in decision-making
Economic aspects of sustainability:
- Financial Value
A sustainable certification system like LEED gives users information about the sustainable qualities of the building. The aim is to give value to an object, in this case a building, commercially exploited or not, seeing the possibilities to present their sustainable features and making it attractive to end users.
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