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cole - ISBN 1-886431-09-4 Copyright 1999-2003 IeJC All...

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ISBN 1-886431-09-4. © Copyright 1999-2003 IeJC All Rights Reserved. Special Issue article in: The Future of Sustainable Construction – 2003. Published: 14 th May, 2003. B UILDING E NVIRONMENTAL A SSESSMENT M ETHODS: A Measure of Success By Raymond J. Cole 1 ABSTRACT: Voluntary environmental assessment and labeling programs are currently viewed as having the potential to create market demand for green buildings and, over the past decade, have provided a key focus for building environmental research and practice. This paper provides a critical review of the current and emerging character of building environmental assessment methods, emphasizing issues that are anticipated to be of increasing importance over the next decade. These are shifting from “green” assessment to “sustainability” assessment, reconciling simplicity and complexity and, dealing with the differences between necessary and acceptable increments of change. The paper concludes by speculating on the long-term effectiveness of assessment methods in their ability to nurture an environmental ethic within the building industry. KEYWORDS: Assessment Methods; Green Buildings; Labeling Programs; Sustainability Assessment; Voluntary Building Assessment Programs. INTRODUCTION Environmental degradation has always been a consequence of human activity. Whereas such effects have historically been local in scale, visible to the community and reversible, current environmental concerns are global in scale and generational in consequence and remediation. This changing nature of environmental problems requires qualitatively different approaches to address them. Legislation, if possible to enforce, has historically been viewed as the most appropriate means of combating acute, localised environmental transgressions particularly if sufficient information is available to formulate workable regulations, set targets and measure their effectiveness. ( Aggeri, 1999 ) Standard-based systems, however, often lead to a focus on how to meet that standard, rather than on how to optimally deal with the underlying problem by replacing one’s “intrinsic motivation” to behave in an environmentally friendly manner with an “extrinsic motivation” driven by environmental standards ( Tenbrunsel et al., 1997 ). The resulting “follow the rules” mentality, Tenbrunsel et al ., argue, may lead to a more “permanent motivational change whereby individual responsibility for societal problems is dramatically diminished.” Although regulation will remain important, more innovative measures and a greater level of co-operation and voluntary agreements between industry and regulating bodies are increasingly required to address emerging environmental problems that are more dispersed and global in nature. ( Aggeri, 1999 ) Understanding the effectiveness of various mechanisms to encourage a broad-based engagement and sustained commitment by the building industry to improving the environmental performance of buildings, is a primary concern of this paper.
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