Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Volume 3, Issue 3.
SASBE Volume 3 Issue 3 features two papers from Europe, two from the USA, and one from Australia. While researchers in European countries continue to lead manuscript contributions to this journal, it is pleasing to see an increasing level of interest from North America along with the research efforts and progress being made there. This issue also includes SASBE's first ever paper about sustainable development in China, which is one of the priority countries/regions Emerald has been targeting. Once again I encourage contributions from researchers in emerging economies and developing countries. Energy efficiency and occupant satisfaction are the main themes of this issue, with each theme reflected in two papers. The remaining paper discusses industry level problems of off-site construction and the potential remedy. Surveys and case studies are the dominating research methods used.
Wågø and Berker examine the role and influence of architecture on energy efficiency achieved through residential practices. Despite best intentions, they argue, special features for energy efficiency through innovative architectural design require new definitions of comfort and skills to achieve the promised results. The level of end-user control and adaptability, the level of system complexity, and the need for adequate information will require greater levels of attention. I notice the relatively small sample size in this interim report, and suggest the authors revisit issues and compare results when they have completed the intended study of all housing projects.
Nikou and Klotz continue the probe into energy efficiency by applying multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT) to decision making for sustainable energy use. In the setting of commercial buildings, they demonstrate the use of MAUT as a framework for quantifying energy decisions made during the design phase of a building construction project. They argue decision makers need a systematic way to include their concerns, preferences and specific requirements of the project along with the criteria for energy applications. The authors recognised the need for further case studies. As quality research findings stems from quality data, I would encourage them to expand the research to more projects and other types of buildings.
Moving onto user experiences, Driza and Park quantify occupant satisfaction levels in university campus buildings and try to determine if and how LEED certification of these buildings can help designers deliver desirable indoor comfort levels. They found that while LEED certification may be used as an aid for delivering successful interior environments, there are opportunities to enhance the reliability of this tool. In addition to utilizing rating tools such as LEED, they believe post-occupancy evaluations should be an integral part of the assessment. Can this result be generalised to other types of buildings and in other countries? Researchers in other parts of the world using assessment tools such as BREEAM and Green Star may ponder.
Gijsbers and Lichtenberg report the development of a novel method to assist building designers in finding suitable measures for flexible use to accommodate changing user demands, and comparing adaptability measures. Since the initial phase of building development is crucial for decision making, they believe a high degree of adaptability achieved through lifespan-oriented design is most efficient for the long term. It should be based on a performance approach, where technical solutions are compared and matched to performance requirements. But how can we define these requirements and better integrate the processes between design and operation, where performance measurement mostly takes place? I think the authors or other researchers can go a step further to examine these challenges.
Last but not least, Reed et al. study how off-site industrialised systems can help address sustainable challenges in China's burgeoning property development. They assess current on-site construction practices, with high reliance on relatively cheap labour and substantial excess material waste, to show how the alternative approach of off-site production can deliver a range of sustainability benefits. Issues affecting and measures to promote the up-take of off-site industrialisation are both discussed, leading to the belief that knowledge gaps need to be closed urgently, and all stakeholders in the housing industry engaged. I believe off-site production has been popular for some time in many countries for a variety of building types. If it is proven to be applicable for medium to high-rise residential projects, and the main problem lies with policy making and stakeholder engagement, as suggested in this paper, I would be interested in seeing future research efforts directed towards comparative studies and technology transfer cases by drawing lessons learned elsewhere.