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Interpreting sustainability and resilience in the built environment

Elisabeth C. Marlow (School of Architecture, Buildings and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Ksenia Chmutina (School of Architecture, Buildings and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Andrew Dainty (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 21 February 2022

Issue publication date: 2 May 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Conceptual interpretations of sustainability and resilience are widening with discursive use and altering the relationship and understanding of both concepts. By using three city case studies in the USA, this paper aims to consider which conceptual interpretations are operational and what is being measured in the context of city policy, municipal planning and built environment practice. With increasing pressures of urbanisation, it is imperative to consider which conceptual interpretations of resilience and sustainability are being measured in frameworks for the built environment if Risk-Informed Sustainable Development across multiple sectors is to be delivered.

Design/methodology/approach

Three case studies with semi-structured interviews have been thematically analysed to explore how sustainability and resilience have been operationalised at policy, planning and practice levels.

Findings

City policies, municipal planning and practitioners are working with different interpretations. Collectively Risk Informed Sustainable Development is not formally recognised. Policies recognise GHG reductions and natural hazard events; planning guidance stipulates Environmental Impact Assessments based on legal requirements; and practitioners consider passive-survivability and systematic thinking. Across the sectors, the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Assessment Method provides a common foundation but is used with varying requirements.

Practical implications

Decision-makers should incorporate risk-informed sustainable development, update codes of practice and legal requirements leading to exemplary practice becoming normalised.

Social implications

Passive-survivability should be affordable and adopt risk-informed sustainable development principles.

Originality/value

Three US city case studies with data collected from interviews have been analysed simultaneously at policy, planning and practice levels. Interrelated implications have been outlined on how to improve decision-making of sustainability and resilience across sectors.

Keywords

Citation

Marlow, E.C., Chmutina, K. and Dainty, A. (2023), "Interpreting sustainability and resilience in the built environment", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 332-348. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-07-2021-0076

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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