Charting Pre-Design Sustainability Indicators

‘Charting Pre-Design Sustainability Indicators’ recognises that construction projects may impose a detrimental impact on the environment, both socially and economically.

While the wider Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is deeply concerned with improving social, economic and environmental sustainability outcomes, existing management systems are almost entirely focused on the post-design stages of projects. Since they are typically implemented in the post-design and post-development phases, they have little impact on major issues, such as carbon emissions, waste generation, biodiversity loss and equitable land use. Paradoxically, it is precisely at the initiation stage that sustainability alignment must be assessed. However, the process of assessing sustainability objectives within the initiation stage of projects remains substantially un-researched, and robust methodologies for such assessments remain conspicuously absent.

The research involves three consecutive phases. In the first phase, a literature review will determine how the scope and nature of sustainability criteria, as applied across a range of disciplines. Discipline teams will be formed, and each will carry out a focused review. This analysis will be refined in the second phase through semi-structured interviews undertaken with experts in each discipline. The third phase merges all the indicators, gives weights to each indicator and creates a Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Model (MCDM) that incorporates all the identified indicators through use of expert group techniques. The Decision-Making Trial and Evaluation Laboratory (DEMATEL) is capable of converting relationships between several indicators into a structural model that handles the inner dependences within these indicators. Hence, this study deploys DEMATEL method to assist the research team in evaluating and synthesizing all the indicators into one mathematical decision-making tool.

The mathematical model provides a holistic interdisciplinary IDF approach to assessing the sustainability of the pre-design stage of construction projects. All the four-quadrant perspectives, qualitative perceptions and quantitative facts from individuals and professional groups can be fed into the mathematical model to produce a unique sustainability score. This score may be benchmarked against scores generated by alternate pre-design approaches for evaluative comparison.

Project Team

Deakin University School of Architecture and Built Environment:

Professor David Jones, Associate Professor Mark Luther, Dr. M. Reza Hosseini, Dr. Asheem Shrestha, Dr. Mirjana Lozanovska, Dr. Igor Martek and Mr. Saeed Banihashemi.