Design of an Infrastructure Sustainability Assessment Method for application in DGBC Area
J.F. van de Pol
5 February 2010
(University of Twente)
Martijn in ‘t Veld
(Dutch Green Building Council)
As the transition towards more sustainable construction practices gains increasing popularity in the sector, it becomes a necessity to assess sustainability of the built environment based on measurable criteria. Recently the Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC) initiated the development of DGBC Area, a new method for appraisal of sustainability in area development projects. Such a comprehensive method needs to consider buildings, infrastructure and public space of the area, and the interactions between these elements. However, since current research has focused on assessment of buildings, there is a lack in experience on sustainability appraisal of technical infrastructure facilities. The objective of this research is to design and evaluate a method for assessment of infrastructure sustainability, specifically for application in the new DGBC Area certificate.
Regarding formal procedures for development of assessment methods, this research covers the first three steps, being scope definition, system analysis and indicator identification. In light of the ambitions of the DGBC, central aspects in this research are the identification of appropriate measures for infrastructure sustainability in scientific literature and existing practical instruments and the development and implementation of strategies to stimulate innovation in the environmental assessment method. The research strategy can be characterized as design-oriented desk research. Design requirements are formulated based on a literature study and an analysis of DGBC Area, which resulted in an initial design. To complete and validate the initial design, it is evaluated in interviews with experts on different fields of sustainability. The results of this evaluation are processed in a concept design, which is subsequently reviewed with practitioners from a specific area development project. Using the proposed designs for technical infrastructure systems in this project as an example, the concept design appeared to reflect most of the relevant sustainable practices.
Ultimately the evaluations resulted in the in this study proposed design of an Infrastructure Sustainability Assessment Method (ISAM). The central purpose of ISAM is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the environmental characteristics of infrastructure. The method is intended to be used in the planning stage of development projects, to assess estimated environmental performance of design proposals in realization and operation stages. ISAM includes a total of thirty indicators on diverse environmental aspects, which are clustered in seventeen themes, within eight categories. Each of the categories includes at least one critical indicator, representing the essence of the corresponding environmental aspect. These are for example the extent to which infrastructure facilities contribute to the energy performance of an area and the amount of waste water that is treated and drained locally. Three different strategies to increase innovation potential have been implemented in ISAM. These strategies comprise the performance based formulation of indicators, the set up of a separate category for assessment of innovation and the use of incentives to stimulate innovation on critical indicators. Further research is recommended to validate ISAM an to expand the scope of the method.