Special Issue "Building Sustainability Assessment"

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ricardo Mateus

University of Minho, Centre of Territory, Environment and Construction (CTAC), Department of Civil Engineering, Guimarães, 4800-058, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +351 253 510 200
Interests: sustainability assessment; life-cycle assessment; sustainable construction; building physics and technology; building renovation
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Luís Bragança

University of Minho, Centre of Territory, Environment and Construction (CTAC), Department of Civil Engineering, Guimarães, 4800-058, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Fax: :+351 253 510 200
Interests: sustainable construction; sustainable urban development; circular economy; building physics and construction technology; building energy conservation and management; building renovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For decades, the building industry has been one of the most important sectors in creating jobs and economic value. Worldwide, this sector consumes a large amount of natural resources, and it is connected to several impacts at environmental, societal, and economic levels. Worldwide, buildings are responsible for consuming 25% of harvested wood, 17% of fresh water, and producing 45–65% of disposed waste in landfills [1]. Regarding energy, buildings in Europe account for about 40% of total energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [2].

Due to an increasing awareness of the effects of buildings’ life cycle on climate change and the growing international movement towards efficient/sustainable buildings, the current paradigm of building is changing rapidly [3]. As a consequence, the control of the environmental impacts of the building sector has become a major issue.

Although sustainable building is a multidimensional concept, attention to the issue often focuses solely on environmental indicators, ignoring the substantial importance of social, economic, and cultural indicators. A building can only be regarded as sustainable when all the different dimensions of sustainability are balanced. To date, there is no common definition of sustainable building [1,3,4,5], but the following principles are the most common in the different approaches, developed so far, to promote sustainable building [3,6–8]: optimization of site potential; preservation of regional and cultural identity; minimization of energy consumption; protection and conservation of water resources; use of environmentally friendly materials and products; healthy and convenient indoor climate, and optimized operational and maintenance practices. Therefore, building sustainability involves various relations between built, natural, and social systems.

To cope with this complexity and to support sustainability, systematic, holistic, and practical approaches to building design need to be developed and properly implemented. In this context, different building environmental or sustainability assessment methods have been developed. The purpose of these methods is to gather and report information for decision-making during different life-cycle stages of a building. They are particularly important in the early design stages of both new and renovated buildings, since the decisions made in that stage largely determines their environmental, societal, and economic performance over many decades, due to their long service life.

Sustainability and environmental assessments are usually based on indicators. These indicators provide information about the main influences of the industry as a whole and about the impacts of the construction and operation of buildings and other built assets. From the analysis of different building sustainability methods, it is possible to conclude that they do not share the same list of indicators [6,9–11]. The use of a different list of indicators makes the definition of the term “Sustainable Construction” subjective, and in addition to hindering the dissemination and practical use of the approaches developed so far, it causes difficulties in comparing results from different assessment methods. In order to overcome these constraints, both the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) have worked actively in the last decade to define standard requirements for the environmental and sustainability assessment of buildings.

Although there have already been important research developments, there is still a wide number of aspects that are challenging both academics and practitioners for the development of a new generation of building sustainability assessment methods. Several studies comparing different methods have been carried out, but one important open issue for discussion is how the existing approaches should evolve to cope with recent standardization works. Some methods are being applied in countries different from the one for which they were developed without prior adaptation to the local environmental, societal, and economic constraints. Therefore, it is worthwhile to discuss—through the presentation of case studies—whether it is important to adapt the list of indicators, the system of weights, and the methodologies to the local context. In this field, the discussion of different approaches to adapting global methods to a particular context is also very important. It is widely recognized in the field of sustainability assessments that life cycle assessment (LCA) is a conceptually preferable method for assessing the environmental effects of a material or product [4,12]. Nevertheless, the adoption of environmental LCA in buildings and other construction works is a complex and tedious task, since a construct incorporates hundreds or thousands of individual products; tens of companies are involved in the whole life-cycle; and the expected life-cycle of a building is exceptionally long (tens or hundreds of years), and therefore there are many uncertainties. Therefore, to solve this problem it is necessary to develop sound methods for assessment that provide sufficient accuracy at reasonable time and cost. The development of life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA) databases for the most common building elements and building integrated technologies [13] and the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based LCA in building design are two paths to explore [12]. Two important aspects that influence the final results of sustainability assessments are the benchmarks considered for each indicator and the system of weights used in the aggregation of different indicators [5,14]. Therefore, another important field of research is the discussion around the approaches to defining qualitative and quantitative benchmarks—for both standard and best sustainability practices—which consider the constant innovation and new technology applied in the building sector. Another challenge is the development of a consensual approach that considers the opinions of the different actors in the life-cycle of a building in the aggregation of the different environmental, societal, and economic indicators.

Based on the presented context, this Special Issue will be devoted to emergent research and development in the field of methods for assessing the sustainability or environmental performance of buildings.

The Guest Editors of this Special Issue,

Prof. Dr. Ricardo Mateus
Prof. Dr. Luís Bragança
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References

  1. Li, X. Chen, X. Wang, Y. Xu, and P. H. Chen, “A review of studies on green building assessment methods by comparative analysis,” Energy Build., vol. 146, pp. 152–159, 2017.
  2. Boermans, A. Hermelink, S. Schimschar, J. Grözinger, M. Offermann, K. E. Thomsen, J. Rose, and S. O. Aggerholm, “Principles for Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings - Paving the way to effective implementation of policy requirements,” 2011.
  3. Mateus and L. Bragança, “Sustainability assessment and rating of buildings: Developing the methodology SBToolPT–H,” Build. Environ., vol. 46, no. 10, pp. 1962–1971, Oct. 2011.
  4. Passer, H. Kreiner, and P. Maydl, “Assessment of the environmental performance of buildings: A critical evaluation of the influence of technical building equipment on residential buildings,” Int. J. Life Cycle Assess., vol. 17, no. 9, pp. 1116–1130, May 2012.
  5. D. F. Castro, R. Mateus, and L. Bragança, “Development of a healthcare building sustainability assessment method – Proposed structure and system of weights for the Portuguese context,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 148, 2017.
  6. Haapio and P. Viitaniemi, “A critical review of building environmental assessment tools,” Environ. Impact Assess. Rev., vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 469–482, 2008.
  7. Abd Rashid and S. Yusoff, “A review of life cycle assessment method for building industry,” Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev., vol. 45, pp. 244–248, May 2015.
  8. Bragança, R. Mateus, and H. Koukkari, “Building Sustainability Assessment,” Sustainability, vol. 2, no. 7, pp. 2010–2023, 2010.
  9. Andrade and L. Bragança, “Sustainability assessment of dwellings – a comparison of methodologies,” Civ. Eng. Environ. Syst., vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 125–146, 2016.
  10. E. Marjaba and S. E. Chidiac, “Sustainability and resiliency metrics for buildings – Critical review,” Build. Environ., vol. 101, pp. 116–125, 2016.
  11. de F. Castro, R. Mateus, and L. Bragança, “Building sustainability assessment: the case of hospital buildings,” 2012.
  12. Soust-Verdaguer, C. Llatas, and A. García-Martínez, “Critical review of bim-based LCA method to buildings,” Energy and Buildings, vol. 136. pp. 110–120, 2017.
  13. Bragança and R. Mateus, Life-cycle analysis of buildings: envirnonmental impact of building elements. Guimarães, Portugal: iiSBE Portugal, 2012.
  14. De Fátima Castro, R. Mateus, F. Serôdio, and L. Bragança, “Development of benchmarks for operating costs and resources consumption to be used in healthcare building sustainability assessment methods,” Sustain., 2015.

Keywords

  • building sustainability assessment
  • environmental indicators
  • societal indicators
  • economic indicators
  • sustainable urban development
  • policies on building sustainability
  • life-cycle analysis
  • BIM-based life-cycle analysis
  • circular building economy

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Using Network Analysis and BIM to Quantify the Impact of Design for Disassembly
Buildings 2018, 8(8), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080113
Received: 7 July 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 18 August 2018
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Abstract
Design for Disassembly (DfD) is a promising design strategy to improve resource efficiency in buildings. To facilitate its application in design and construction practice, specific assessment tools are currently being developed. By reviewing the literature on DfD, including criteria and assessment methods, and
[...] Read more.
Design for Disassembly (DfD) is a promising design strategy to improve resource efficiency in buildings. To facilitate its application in design and construction practice, specific assessment tools are currently being developed. By reviewing the literature on DfD, including criteria and assessment methods, and with an explorative research approach on simple examples, we have developed a new method called Disassembly Network Analysis (DNA) to quantify the impact of DfD and link it to specific design improvements. The impact of DfD is measured in material flows generated during the disassembly of a building element. The DNA method uses network analysis and Building Information Modeling to deliver information about flows of recovered and lost materials and disassembly time. This paper presents the DNA method and two illustrative examples. Although DNA is still at a preliminary stage of development, it already shows the potential to compare assemblies and supports better-informed decisions during the design process by detecting potential points of improvements regarding waste generation and time needed to disassemble an element. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Updating the Path to a Carbon-Neutral Built Environment—What Should a Single Builder Do
Buildings 2018, 8(8), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080112
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 7 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
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Abstract
This paper proposes an extension for feasibility assessment of residential energy (heat and electricity) supply solutions in an operational environment undergoing major changes. In order to improve the life cycle economy of the energy supply, the design has to accommodate technological, economic, and
[...] Read more.
This paper proposes an extension for feasibility assessment of residential energy (heat and electricity) supply solutions in an operational environment undergoing major changes. In order to improve the life cycle economy of the energy supply, the design has to accommodate technological, economic, and regulatory changes in operational environment over the long time. New elements must be included in feasibility assessments of energy supply to ensure consideration of future economic opportunities and risks. The extended feasibility assessment brings up the profitability of “future proofed” more sustainable solutions with lower risks related to utilization costs and with improved resale value preservation. The findings of systematic literature study were structured and clarified into a decision support matrix to guide the assessment process. The procedure was verified by identifying the optimal energy supply solution for a net-zero energy single-family house in Southern Finland. The verification demonstrated that the procedure provides new insights on the economy and the climate implications of the energy solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability Assessment of Urban Heritage Sites
Buildings 2018, 8(8), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080107
Received: 11 April 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 12 August 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this research was to create a framework of indicators that enabled us to measure the classic dimensions of sustainable development (SD): People, Planet, and Profit, in combination with the sustainability of the heritage values and the policy dimension. Methods developed
[...] Read more.
The purpose of this research was to create a framework of indicators that enabled us to measure the classic dimensions of sustainable development (SD): People, Planet, and Profit, in combination with the sustainability of the heritage values and the policy dimension. Methods developed as an approach to sustainable urban planning and that were based on system analysis models were modified, streamlined, and adapted into a concrete set of indicators for historical city sites. This framework, a multimodal system which maps out the holistic sustainability could serve as an incentive from the policy to the heritage world to implement sustainable objectives; and it could be used as an extra argument for the broader social relevance of heritage care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle A Database Tool for Systematic Analysis of Embodied Emissions in Buildings and Neighborhoods
Buildings 2018, 8(8), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080106
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 8 August 2018 / Published: 12 August 2018
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Abstract
There is a growing body of research on the embodied emissions of individual buildings, but the results and methods remain mostly inaccessible and incomparable due to insufficient reported information, and differences in system boundaries, methods, and data used. This inhibits further utilization of
[...] Read more.
There is a growing body of research on the embodied emissions of individual buildings, but the results and methods remain mostly inaccessible and incomparable due to insufficient reported information, and differences in system boundaries, methods, and data used. This inhibits further utilization of the results in statistical applications and makes interpretation and validation of results difficult. The database tool presented in this paper attempts to mitigate these challenges by systematizing and storing all relevant information for these studies in a compatible format. The tool enables comparison of results across system boundaries, improves the transparency and reproducibility of the assessments, and makes utilization of the results in statistical applications possible. Statistical applications include embodied emission benchmarking, identifying emission drivers, and quantifying relationships between variables. Other applications of the tool include the assessment of embodied emissions of buildings and neighborhoods. This paper presents the tool and exemplifies its use with preliminary results based on a dataset of 11 buildings. Work is ongoing to expand the dataset, which will provide more comprehensive results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Relevance of Embodied Energy and Carbon Emissions on Assessing Cost Effectiveness in Building Renovation—Contribution from the Analysis of Case Studies in Six European Countries
Buildings 2018, 8(8), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080103
Received: 12 July 2018 / Revised: 30 July 2018 / Accepted: 8 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
The construction sector is facing increasingly strict energy efficiency regulations. Existing buildings have specific technical, functional and economic constraints, which, in fulfilling regulations, could lead to costly and complex renovation procedures and also lead to missed opportunities for improving their energy performance. In
[...] Read more.
The construction sector is facing increasingly strict energy efficiency regulations. Existing buildings have specific technical, functional and economic constraints, which, in fulfilling regulations, could lead to costly and complex renovation procedures and also lead to missed opportunities for improving their energy performance. In this article, the methodology for comparing cost-optimality in building renovations, developed in the International Energy Agency (IEA)–Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Annex 56 project, is extended with a life cycle assessment by including embodied primary energy and carbon emissions in the calculations. The objective is to understand the relevance of embodied energy and carbon emissions in the evaluation of the cost effectiveness of building renovation solutions towards nearly zero energy buildings, as well as the effect of the embodied values in the achievable carbon emissions and primary energy reductions expected in an energy renovation. Results from six case studies, representative of different regions in Europe, suggest that embodied values of energy and carbon emissions have a decreasing effect—ranging from 2 to 32%—on the potential reductions of energy and emissions that can be achieved with renovation measures in buildings. In addition, the consideration of the embodied energy and carbon emissions does not affect the ranking of the renovation packages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Different Kinds of Concrete Containing Waste for Sustainable Construction
Received: 19 February 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
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Abstract
Concrete production causes significant environmental damage during its entire life cycle due to the large consumption of natural aggregate. The aim of this research was to use the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to conduct a comparative analysis of four different concrete mixtures,
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Concrete production causes significant environmental damage during its entire life cycle due to the large consumption of natural aggregate. The aim of this research was to use the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to conduct a comparative analysis of four different concrete mixtures, i.e., construction and demolition waste (CDW), incinerator ashes, marble sludge, and blast furnace slag. The LCA study was implemented in the Campania Region of Italy. The main contribution of the study was that it proposed the use of “green” recycled aggregates in concrete production in order to assess the reduction of potential adverse impacts, from both environmental and energy perspectives. SimaPro© software was used to conduct the analysis. The main results of the research showed that the recycled aggregates that were analyzed were preferable to traditional concrete. In particular, the recycled aggregate that had the least adverse impact on the environment was blast furnace waste. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Ökobau.dat 3.0–Quo Vadis?
Buildings 2018, 8(9), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8090129
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 4 September 2018 / Accepted: 15 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
PDF Full-text (871 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the standard method for the quantification of environmental impacts within the construction sector, relying on available generic LCA databases. New developments, such as the increased influence of the building construction for LCA and the forthcoming of building information
[...] Read more.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the standard method for the quantification of environmental impacts within the construction sector, relying on available generic LCA databases. New developments, such as the increased influence of the building construction for LCA and the forthcoming of building information modeling (BIM), implicate new requirements on multiscale levels of development and complexity for LCA construction databases. At the example of the German “Ökobau.dat”, one of the leading LCA construction databases, this publication discusses whether the database is able to meet these requirements. The analysis shows the strengths of the Ökobau.dat with regard to standardization conformity (EN 15804, ILCD), data provision in machine-readable XML format, and the provision of an application programming interface. Shortcomings include incorrect linking of building life cycle inventory data with environmental information, incorrect documentation of functional units, missing generic datasets, the modeling of energy use data or the lack of a uniform structuring, or material classification. The authors propose solutions such as the provision of appropriate functional units, the implementation of a top-down approach to investigate the completeness of data based on existing nomenclatures or the extension with an appropriate material classification. This would allow for future viability and adaptability of Ökobau.dat for digital LCA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessReview Strategies to Improve the Energy Performance of Buildings: A Review of Their Life Cycle Impact
Buildings 2018, 8(8), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080105
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 3 August 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 12 August 2018
PDF Full-text (1860 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Globally, the building sector is responsible for more than 40% of energy use and it contributes approximately 30% of the global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This high contribution stimulates research and policies to reduce the operational energy use and related GHG emissions of
[...] Read more.
Globally, the building sector is responsible for more than 40% of energy use and it contributes approximately 30% of the global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This high contribution stimulates research and policies to reduce the operational energy use and related GHG emissions of buildings. However, the environmental impacts of buildings can extend wide beyond the operational phase, and the portion of impacts related to the embodied energy of the building becomes relatively more important in low energy buildings. Therefore, the goal of the research is gaining insights into the environmental impacts of various building strategies for energy efficiency requirements compared to the life cycle environmental impacts of the whole building. The goal is to detect and investigate existing trade-offs in current approaches and solutions proposed by the research community. A literature review is driven by six fundamental and specific research questions (RQs), and performed based on two main tasks: (i) selection of literature studies, and (ii) critical analysis of the selected studies in line with the RQs. A final sample of 59 papers and 178 case studies has been collected, and key criteria are systematically analysed in a matrix. The study reveals that the high heterogeneity of the case studies makes it difficult to compare these in a straightforward way, but it allows to provide an overview of current methodological challenges and research gaps. Furthermore, the most complete studies provide valuable insights in the environmental benefits of the identified energy performance strategies over the building life cycle, but also shows the risk of burden shifting if only operational energy use is focused on, or when a limited number of environmental impact categories are assessed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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