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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Volume 1, Issue 3.
Available energy and the way we use it can seriously affect the built environment. In this issue, three papers examine energy efficiency from different perspectives: design strategies, new materials for façades and innovative building refurbishment, respectively. Two additional papers explore the sustainability assessment of urban systems and user incentives for sustainable housing products.
In their paper, Clevenger and Haymaker illustrate how high performance and energy-efficient design can be achieved through advanced design strategies and computer-based analytical tools. They test the relationship of six strategies to distinct challenges using the measure of the “value of information”. Representative strategies implemented in energy efficient designs are used to motivate the exploration and assessment of strategies. This work highlights the importance for designers to adopt a systematic approach to compare the effectiveness of a strategy across diverse challenges.
The number of aging buildings is growing worldwide. In Australia, for example, the average age of office buildings in major metropolitan cities has exceeded 30 years. Retrofitting projects provide good business. They must also deliver sustainability targets. This is the background to the next two papers. Gohardani and Björk review a number of innovation approaches to deliver sustainable building refurbishment projects in European countries. They focus on decision tools and refurbishment methods leading to improved energy efficiency. Despite the widening range of sustainability criteria for refurbishment, current tools and methods seem to only address a limited number of criteria. Alternative approaches are needed, and should focus on multinational studies to capture major disparities between nations, high-performance thermal insulation solutions and zero carbon refurbishment. In “Energy simulations of a transparent-insulated office façade retrofit in London, UK”, Wong, Eames and Perera investigate transparent insulation (TI) materials used in office buildings. Through simulation and modelling, they compare the energy performance of conventional vs TI-based materials for wall elements and windows. In office zones, there is a ten to 12 hours delay in heat transmission from the external façade. TI applications have the potential to avoid traditional problems of excessive heating demands in winter and overheating in summer.
More and more people are warming to the idea of living in sustainable homes. But how willing are we to pay for them? The paper of Yau examines home buyer attitudes towards eco-labelled housing in Hong Kong. The results echo the low initial cost mentality still prevalent among the public and the difficulties we face in developing and implementing sustainable building products. Less than half of the respondents are willing to pay more for eco-labelled apartments. Household income tends to affect directly the willingness to pay, which signifies the wealth effect in green consumerism. Government policy changes, incentives and individual green housing attributes – such as green roof and solar energy harvesting, should be the areas of focus.
Dizdaroglu, Yigitcanlar and Dawes revisit the importance of sustainability assessment schemes in their paper. They believe micro-level assessment is often neglected among current systems. They propose a new index-based model to assess sustainable urban eco-systems on parcel scales. A set of micro-level environmental sustainability indices are used in the evaluation and monitoring of the interaction between human activities and urban ecosystems. The resilience of ecosystems is assessed towards impacts of current development plans. To improve the functionality and adaptability of the model, I believe more regional cases need to be studied and complete data sets obtained for the model.
Finally a book review by Storey looks at Sustainable Urban Environments – An Ecosystem Approach, a book edited by van Bueren et al. The book provides an excellent source of reference by seamlessly integrating a wide range of topics on ecosystems and urban ecology.
This issue completes Volume 1 and a successful first year of the SASBE journal. All three issues have been produced as scheduled. Following the rigorous double blind peer review process, a total of 15 papers were published, promoting cutting edge research around the globe. Non-article content included event news, conference reports and book reviews. Early statistics from Emerald are very encouraging. The number of paper downloads and manuscript submissions have well exceeded our expectations. This is attributed to high relevance of the subjects covered in the journal but more importantly to the overwhelming support of our readers and contributors.
Volume 2 and beyond will continue to offer a rich variety of topics. Papers being processed feature methods and practices of life-cycle assessment, the interactions between buildings and occupants, and regional perspectives and experiences of sustainable development. Special issues will cover the specific challenges in developing economies from South America to the Middle East along with the knowledge perspectives of sustainable urban development.