Effectiveness of ‘Green’ Building Rating Tools: A Review of Performance

By Dominique Hes.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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

In the context of the built environment this paper presents an approach using a series of nine criteria for investigating the effectiveness of building rating tools. The ability to measure a building's performance using rating tools is one way of looking at the integration of sustainability objectives into the built form.

The term effectiveness, as defined in this paper, is not limited to demonstrating improved environmentally performance but also the long term effectiveness of the rating tools application and usability. Further, it covers the ability for the rating systems to provide the outcomes expected by those using the tools. It was found that though rating tools tend to look primarily at environmental sustainability, reports covered broader outcomes such as social sustainability, productivity improvements, comfort gains and costs savings. Effectiveness therefore also encompasses these other issues particularly as these are often used as arguments for the design and construction of ‘green’ buildings, and the use of rating tools as a support for the process.

The research method uses existing publicly available reports on the performance of buildings which have been rated over the last 10 years. This data is then used to discuss effectiveness based on the criteria identified by the research. It shows that the rated buildings do seem to have significant reductions in energy and water consumption; there is evidence that employees are more comfortable and there is increased productivity. Their effectiveness does not seem as high in other areas though, as the tools do seem to be both costly and bureaucratic in their implementation, and seem to be less geared to supporting the dynamic nature of building design and development, needing to be more proactive in support of innovation.

The paper closes with a brief discussion of the future developments occurring internationally, particularly how these are addressing some of the less effective parts of the tools. The paper closed by posing the question whether rating tools can lead to a sustainable built environment when the tools are predicated on increasing efficiency and efficiency is limited and only part of the solution.

Keywords: Building Rating Tools

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.143-152. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 620.846KB).

Dr Dominique Hes

Lecturer Sustainable Architecture, Melbourne University, Australia

Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, Dominique Hes received a science degree from Melbourne University and followed this with a graduate diploma in Cleaner Production and a doctorate at RMIT University, Melbourne. The thesis investigates her practice in supporting the integration of sustainability in building projects. Her research interests are identifying and filling the knowledge gaps in sustainability practice and application in the built environment. She has carried out research on Victorian residential projects such as the Commonwealth Games Village and Aurora; commercial projects such as Melbourne City Council’s Council House 2 and local government projects such as Reservoir Civic Centre. Her most successful publication is the ESD Design Guide for Australian Government Buildings, which is in its second edition.

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