Special Issue "Building Sustainability Assessment"
A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)
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
Prof. Dr. Luís Bragança
Civil Engineering Department, School of Engineering, University of Minho, 4800-058 Guimaraes, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Fax: :+351 253 510 200
Interests: Sustainable Construction Development (sustainability assessment tools, life-cycle analysis, sustainable building technologies and sustainable rehabilitation of buildings); Building Physics; Building Acoustics and the Rational Use of Energy in Buildings
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 . Regarding energy, buildings in Europe account for about 40% of total energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .
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 . 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  and the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based LCA in building design are two paths to explore . 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Haapio and P. Viitaniemi, “A critical review of building environmental assessment tools,” Environ. Impact Assess. Rev., vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 469–482, 2008.
- 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.
- Bragança, R. Mateus, and H. Koukkari, “Building Sustainability Assessment,” Sustainability, vol. 2, no. 7, pp. 2010–2023, 2010.
- Andrade and L. Bragança, “Sustainability assessment of dwellings – a comparison of methodologies,” Civ. Eng. Environ. Syst., vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 125–146, 2016.
- E. Marjaba and S. E. Chidiac, “Sustainability and resiliency metrics for buildings – Critical review,” Build. Environ., vol. 101, pp. 116–125, 2016.
- de F. Castro, R. Mateus, and L. Bragança, “Building sustainability assessment: the case of hospital buildings,” 2012.
- 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.
- Bragança and R. Mateus, Life-cycle analysis of buildings: envirnonmental impact of building elements. Guimarães, Portugal: iiSBE Portugal, 2012.
- 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.
- 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