The themes of technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizing

SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT METHODS APPLIED TO THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

The built environment and urban systems are a complex interaction between human activity (economy), human well-being (social), and the natural systems (air, land, water) with each other and with the civil infrastructures and the interface at which they converge.

The built environment is a system that consists of all types of buildings such as houses, shops, together with engineering works such as roads, treatment plants, storm-water management sys­tems, bridges, power generation facilities, and other civil infrastructures that support and en­able human activity and urbanization. Water and wastewater treatment facilities and storm-water management systems are design to protect human lives, other civil infrastructures, and the environ­ment by removing and or reducing contaminants.

Power generating facilities enable human activ­ity, industrial processes, and transportation to be possible and also sustain society. Transportation systems including roads, bridges are the “veins” or “conduits” that provide accessibility to goods and services from the natural and built environment and maintain and/or improve human well-being. They also enable dynamic interaction of human activity (e. g., economic activity), human wellbe­ing, and the natural environment with each other and other infrastructure that makes up the built environment. These civil infrastructures are part of the considered human system.

Engineering projects that build these infrastruc­tures are always hinged on a single reductionist assessment method, e. g. economic approach to evaluating the project across all life cycle stages (planning, design, to construction, to operation and maintenance and demolition/retrofitting). The piece of the puzzle that is often not con­nected in practice is that the built environment also encompasses socio-cultural activities and human interaction with the physical infrastructure and with the natural environment. Hence social and environmental assessment methods are also critical. Human activity influences behavior of the built environment components in unexpected ways. When these interactions are not considered the analysis remains incomplete. In order to as­sess the impacts of various projects, a holistic, systematic approach that considers the triple bot­tom line is essential for long-term and possible short-term planning.

Table 1. Reductionist and systematic approaches to addressing sustainability (adaptedfrom Muga, 2009)

Reductionist Approach to Identifying Problem

Systematic Approach to Identifying Problem

Reductionist Approach to Assessing Sustainability

Economic assessment, such as cost-benefit analysis and life cycle cost analysis. Tradi­tional methods of assessment, where cost was the only factor taken into consider­ation.

Systematic Approach to Assessing Sustainability

Economic (life cycle cost analysis), Environmental (life cycle assessment), and Societal (societal indicators). Integrated methods of assessment that attempt to address the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environment, and society.

Economic (life cycle cost analysis), Envi­ronmental (life cycle assessment), Societal (risk assessment), triple bottom line. This is where we would like to be. However uncertainty of data and lack of data make getting to this stage challenging.

We can evaluate the impacts of process, prod­ucts, and activities in the built environment using a single-method approach, Table 1. Or alternatively, we can reduce the problem into smaller problems and evaluate them separately, then appropriately reconnect them within a systems context - a ‘sum of all the parts’ approach. Once we’ve reduced the problem to smaller problems we can then ap­ply a systematic analysis to each of the specific problems or component. For example in the built environment, we can study buildings and we can
study pavements/roads separately then reconnect them to a systems context.

According to General Systems Theory, reduc­tionist approaches are best applied in the study of sub-systems whereas the systems approach looks at whole systems (Checkland, 1993). There­fore the reductionist approach is used to attempt to solve problems within a system while the complex systems approach is used to thereafter to frame and define the issues (Checkland, 1993; Greenwood, 2006; Muga, 2009). The various reductionist approaches to addressing sustain­ability can be seen in Table 1. As an example, a company may focus on the economic aspect by reducing costs in order to achieve short-term gain often times at the detriment of environmental and social dimensions (i. e. a reductionist or sub­system approach). Strategies that are top-down and/or bottom-up approach have the potential to move a company or entity towards sustainability or away from it.

Applying reductionist approach to the built environment, the system can be divided into smaller parts that inherently are connected and support its overall function. Some of the critical components or parts of the built environment include buildings/structural support, transporta­tion systems, services, gas and water lines, water reservoirs, information systems, etc. Once each ‘part’ is identified, a systematic approach to as­sessment, one that incorporates the triple bottom line (societal, economic, and environmental as­sessment) can then be applied to each part. Each of these ‘parts’ may be put together to gauge the overall sustainability of the system. With such a complex system as the built environment, a reduc­tionist approach to identifying a problem along with the application of a systematic approach to assessment is often the best option. Such an op­tion is also best suited when long-term strategies are concerned.

Extraction of

Manufacturing of

Virgin/Raw

Materials

Processing of virgin materials

materials to

product

Manufacturing

Stage

У

r

Product reaches its end of life and disposed by consumer

Consumers or customers utilize the products

Products are distributed to consumer

Extraction

Stage

End-of-life

Stage

Processing

Stage

Use Stage

Distribution

Stage

Figure 3. Life cycle stages involved in the manufacture of a product. Integrated assessment methods such as LCA and LCCA may be used at the planning and design stage to evaluate the impacts of alternative materials, processes, and end of life uses of a product before a project begins. These methods may also be used to evaluate the operation and maintenance stages when it is in progress.

A systematic methods approach such as an inte­gratedframework of life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle cost analysis (LCCA), and indicators are necessary to evaluate these component-specific impacts from a sustainability perspective. Life cycle assessment (LCA), Economic-Input Output Model (EIO-LCA), and Simapro are tools that can be used to evaluate the environmental impacts of a given product, process, activity/service at various life stages (raw material extraction, manufactur­ing, distribution, use, and disposal, Figure 3). With LCA/EIO-LCA/Simapro we can determine the environmental outputs for, for example raw materials that are used to build a commercial property. We can also use these tools to evaluate the outputs from various energy sources used dur­ing the operation of the facility. LCA/EIO-LCA/ Simapro enables us to identify what stage of a product’s or process’ life significant environment
emissions occur and where improvements can be made. They are useful tools in aiding decision­making.

While the integrated assessment methods for sustainability enable us to compare alternatives processes, and technologies with the least negative impacts, they also enable us to identify, pro­cesses, technologies, and pathways where innova­tion can take place further reducing undesirable outcomes or increasing desirable outcomes. The life cycle stages, Figure 3, of various competing alternatives can be compared using LCA, LCCA or other assessment methods, to determine the alternative with the least environmental, eco­nomic and societal impacts. Innovation can also take place when performing an LCA or LCCA over the different life cycle stages. For example in Figure 3, in the extraction stage, an innovation might be what kind of equipments do we use and how do we carry out the extraction so that have minimal impacts. In the processing and manufac­turing stages, an innovation might be re-designing a process so that less energy is consumed, or capturing heat for in-house energy use, or utiliz­ing waste material that might otherwise be land­filled. In the use stage it might be, an innovation might be re-designing and manufacturing the products so that they have long-lives. In the end - of-life stage, an innovation might be to re-use of the product in another process, or recycle the product in order to make a completely different product, hence avoiding land-fill.

When it comes innovating and designing sustainably, it pays to think light. Products made with less material have less negative impact all the way from production to disposal, often mak­ing them cheaper to produce. It is clear how a light-weight truck can save energy as it takes less fuel to operate. But for any product that is made lighter it affects the entire LCA since it reduces costs from materials required to shipping of raw materials and final products. Thus this whole system thinking or systems approach to innovat­ing sustainably has been captured by the Rock Mountain Institute in the following principles to be considered for sustainable integrative design, innovation and engineering:

Define the shared and aggressive goals

Collaborate across disciplines

Design nonlinearly

Reward desired outcomes

Define the end-use

Optimize over time and space

Establish baseline parametric values

Establish the minimum energy or resource

theoretically required, then identify and

minimize constraints to achieving that

minimum in practice

Start with a clean sheet

Use measures data and explicit analysis,

not assumptions and rules

Start downstream

Seek radical simplicity

Tunnel through the cost barrier

Wring multiple benefits from single

expenditures

Meet minimized peak demand; optimize over integrated demand Include feedback in the design

The themes of technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizing

About the Contributors

Farley S. Nobre (PhD, MSc, BSc) is Professor at the School of Management of Federal University of Parana, Brazil. His research interests include organizations, knowledge management systems, innova­tion and sustainability. …

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Farley Simon Nobre Federal University of Parana, Brazil ABSTRACT This chapter proposes innovative features of future industrial organizations in order to provide them with the capabilities to manage high levels …

Tools That Drive Innovation: The Role of Information Systems in Innovative Organizations

Jason G. Caudill Carson-Newman College, USA ABSTRACT The purpose of this chapter is to examine computer technology as a tool to support innovation and innovative processes. The primary problem that …

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