What is sustainable construction?
last updated 01/00
Fujita Research is a company with a simple mission - to create harmony between people, the environment and technology through sustainable development in construction. We already market several innovative products and, together with industry partners, are working to develop real solutions to the problems of the 21st centruy construction industry.
Fujita Research was founded in 1989 in California and now has branch offices in Bangkok, Tokyo and Brighton, England. We are the primary R&D division of Japan's 7th largest construction company, the Fujita Corporation.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure these reports are accurate, we cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions. You should verify any information contained herein with independent third parties before making any commercial decisions.
In many of the articles on this web site, the concept of sustainable construction is used. However, the definition of what exactly the term means is less than clear. In order to provide a workable explanation of the concept, this article will look at the view of sustainable construction developed by the W82 commission of the International Council for Research And Innovation In Building And Construction (CIB).
In 1995, at the Amsterdam meeting of the CIB, the W82 commission began work on a project to investigate the issues of sustainable development as they related to the construction industry across the globe. The project involved experts from a number of countries and was conducted in a number of stages. The first was to ask what each country or region understands by the term sustainable development. In the second phase questions were asked about the sort of buildings we would be living in by 2010, how they would be designed and constructed, and what sort of communities and cities they would form a part of. Phase three involved the development of national reports on sustainable development and construction all constructed to an agreed technique to enable comparison and future work in Phase 4 development of codes of best practise. The final phase Phase 5 was publication of the project's findings and recommendations at national and international level.
The full results of the commission's findings have been published as CIB Report, Publication 225: Sustainable Development and the Future of Construction A comparison of visions from various countries (1998). Below is summarized the main results of the international synthesis of findings.
Built environment and ecological systems
- Understanding impact of built environment on ecosystems
- Impact of human activities on ecological systems
- Producing research-based information to contribute to the ethical discussion
- Investigating problems and solutions for sprawl of city agglomerations.
- Continuing with a policy of energy saving
- Targeting technologies which will allow buildings to use 50% less energy
- Adopting an integrated process to energy consumption
- Using innovative design, systems and products to reach energy efficiency goals: integration of renewable energy systems in new construction and retrofitting existing stock
- Developing energy efficient designs for low cost housing
- Assessing energy use in materials used (and in the construction process itself) when considering energy efficiency.
Health and comfort
- Understanding impact of built environment on health
- Improving air quality
- Decreasing health risks
- Investigating social sustainability of self-build
- Improving clean-up procedure of contaminated land
- Improving waste management
- Reducing environmental impact of construction waste through minimization and recycling
- Forecasting fresh water shortages
- Development and use of water-saving technologies
- Development of systems for collecting rain water
- Developing construction materials savings
- Supporting use of indigenous materials
- Recycling, reuse and substitution of recyclable materials
- Developing efficient use of raw materials
- Development of new, innovative materials
- Understanding of natural sand transport phenomena
- Improvement of contaminated land clean-up procedures
- On-line product information systems
- Improved durability of coatings
- Increasing the life-expectancy of indigenous materials and technologies
- Upgrading performance of existing building stock
- Developing non-destructive diagnostic tools for condition assessment
- Developing models for service life prediction.
- Development of new technologies for renovating and retrofitting.
- Publication of best practices in sustainable building
- Developing assessment methods
- Introducing performance-related environmental standards
- Introducing a reliable labelling scheme
- Increasing the emphasis, at R&D stage, of life-cycle analysis and multi-criteria evaluation of materials, services and constructions
- Developing tools for the assessment and certification of life-cycle performance of buildings
- Inventory of all life-cycle costs and suitable indices for measuring performance
- Development of tools to allow linking of environmental and economic costs
- Development of usable environmental accounting tools
- Modulating a 'building-to-last' concept
- Development of models for predicting service life
- Comprehensive databases
- Tools to estimate preference for temporary or long-lasting buildings
- The development (and dissemination) of techniques for reviewing environmental impacts
- Compiling a set of performance indicators to cover: the construction process, completed buildings and civil engineering projects, the operation of existing works, deconstruction and disposal, and tolerance levels for radioactive building materials
- The need for short (as well as long) term construction activities
- The improvement of the building process
- Pushing life-cycle thinking as the guiding principle for the construction process
- Renewal engineering methods
- Management and business practices
- Design technology: new standards, open buildings, advance jointing and assembly techniques
- Construction: open building, process reengineering
- Materials and systems: new function integrated building components, durability, reparability, and retrofit-ability of the products
- Investigate social sustainability issues surrounding self-build