From theory to practice in measuring and benchmarking design/build sustainable architecture: Local examples, global perspective Article

Spiegelhalter, T. (2011). From theory to practice in measuring and benchmarking design/build sustainable architecture: Local examples, global perspective . 5(2), 13-32. 10.18848/1833-1874/CGP/v05i02/38043

cited authors

  • Spiegelhalter, T


  • In recent times, our attention has turned increasingly to the subject of global warming, climate change and dependency on fossil fuels. The fields of architecture and urbanism play a role in this critical focus with their reliance on these limited resources. The profession's slow education, transformation efforts, poor sustainable practices, and its inability to reach the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change goal of the average CO2 reduction of almost 80 % to approximately 1.3 metric tons per person per capita in 2050 makes us question the effectiveness of their curricula and initiatives. Resource benchmarking for a greener tomorrow on a comparable global level remains inefficient. The situation calls for a rapid and fundamental reorientation in our thinking. Especially on the part of learning institutions, colleges, universities, planners and institutions involved in the process of construction and operation of building and city planning. If committed advocates of sustainable construction cannot reach these goals, how will society adjust its relationship to the built environment in order to prevent apocalyptic climate change? How does academia and the profession, which includes individual practitioners, firms, and professional organizations, employ global benchmarking in countries with different socio-cultural backgrounds to identify, measure, and publicize best practices? To meet these goals, new initiatives to create and disseminate the resources and tools are needed to integrate carbon neutral design and post-occupancy measuring into professional architecture programs and practices. The new objectives call for a vital modification of existing courses of instruction and training. Energy supply systems, funding distribution models, standards, as well as statutory regulations and laws will also need to be adapted to be in agreement with the new objectives. The author will examine how existing or designed buildings and cities in educational institutes and the professional world should be measured with resource foot printing on a common metric scale. This can only be realistically applied and globally benchmarked when we consider interrelated life cycles of systems, materials, different household consumption patterns, land-use planning and a wider geophysical perspective. Any legislative efforts must be based on actual, annually measured building energy performance and carbon intensity rather than on modeled assumptions or samples from quasi exceptional national demonstration buildings. A new holistic approach is recommended. This includes comparing against systematic global best practices, rather than only national peer groups of buildings and cities. © Common Ground, Thomas Spiegelhalter, All Rights Reserved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 13

end page

  • 32


  • 5


  • 2