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Comparative analysis of Building Sustainability Assessment Methods for Neighbourhoods

By Damien Trigaux, Karen Allacker and Frank De Troyer


Considering the interactions between buildings and their surroundings, the higher scale of the built environment has become an important focus in sustainable decision taking. Due to the high complexity of this scale level, Building Sustainability Assessment Methods (BSAM) have been developed to assess the sustainability of neighbourhoods. Among these methods, a distinction can be made between qualitative and quantitative tools. The most widespread qualitative BSAM tools, such as BREEAM Communities and LEED Neighborhood, are rating systems based on a multi-criteria analysis. The methodology associates scores to a number of criteria (credits) covering a wide range of sustainability issues like energy, materials, water and comfort. An overall rating is obtained by adding up the weighted individual scores. Quantitative BSAM tools, such as GreenCalc+ and the Environmental Load Profile method, use a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. The LCA method assesses the relevant environmental impacts generated during the whole neighbourhood life span. Although these tools are preferred above the qualitative tools because of their scientific base, the scale of the neighbourhood is not commonly evaluated and their focus is still limited to the environmental performance, neglecting economic, social and qualitative aspects. This paper presents a comparative analysis of qualitative and quantitative BSAM-tools for neighbourhoods and highlights their strengths and weaknesses. A selected number of representative tools is analysed based on an evaluative framework focussing on methodological aspects such as the investigated dimensions, system boundaries, indicators and the weighting scheme used. Recommendations for methodological improvement are formulated and the position of quantitative and qualitative sustainability assessment methods in architectural design is rethought, focussing on the higher scale levels.status: publishe

Topics: Building sustainability assessment, Life Cycle Assessment, Qualitative assessment, Quantitative assessment, Rating systems
Publisher: Leuven
Year: 2015
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Provided by: Lirias
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