A Definition and Assessment of Sustainable Communities: Trends and Challenges of Urban Scale Environmental Assessment Tools

By Juan Blanco.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In recent years, the sustainability concept has found a fertile soil in fields related to the built environment. As a matter of fact, diverse disciplines like regional planning and architectural design have developed a wide range of methodologies for the implementation of sustainable design strategies. One of the most interesting trends in this field has been the recent focus in measuring the environmental performance of buildings, the so-called building rating systems. However with up to 70% of the world’s population concentrated in urban areas by 2050, building assessment methods, which were often associated with measuring the energy performance of a single building, offered a good basis for elaborating a new scheme for urban scale assessment. The current design practices, where practitioners and other stakeholders try to “intuitively” extend building assessment methods to urban neighborhoods by paying more attention to building’s surroundings, forget that one main issue of increased complexity in assessment methods is the extension of their scope to the urban context. Some attempts are made to bring on the market rating systems, which scope is the neighborhood or even the city as a whole, e.g. “BREEAM Communities” in the UK and the “LEED for Neighborhood Development” in the US. Building from that experience, the Green Star Communities (GSC) rating tool is being developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) to promote best practice sustainable community projects. The following paper will track the stages of definition and implementation of such tool.

Keywords: Sustainable Communities, Building Rating Systems, LEED, BREEAM, Green Star

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.223-232. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 238.019KB).

Juan Blanco

PhD Candidate, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Chile

I am an architectural researcher, author, and academic. I previously taught at P. Catholic University of Chile and since October 2010 have been a PhD candidate at the Melbourne School of Design. My fields of interest include architectural design, urban design, and urban planning. My studies focus in the massification of green guidelines and how they sometimes act more like a barrier than encouragement for creative responses that really achieve environmental goals. My research seeks to understand how design discipline can take the lead in the delivery of a more sustainable built environment, taking Melbourne-based practices as case studies. I contribute with the Green Building Council of Australia as a member of its Technical Working Committee for its Communities Pilot Tool, an innovative initiative in Australia that tries to implement green design criteria into large-scale developments. I regularly share ideas on the implementation of sustainability strategies as member of the Member Network for Science and Innovation for Sustainable Development and, most recently, as Associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. I teach several subjects in the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning of the University of Melbourne. During 2010, I was named Teaching Fellow in the Melbourne School of Design.