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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Architects & sustainability in the context of conventional project delivery: the degree and appropriateness of environmentally responsive design Wright, Christopher Charles


There is evidence that industrialized societies are consuming resources and discharging more waste than the earth can produce and absorb. These are brought about by the behaviour of many unsustainable actions by individuals in the 'consumer society'. They are perpetuated by many interconnected factors and development of land for public and private use is one factor that has neglected the collective costs of development. These collective costs consider ecological and social indicators of the 'health' of society as well as the economic ones of profit or job creation. Clients, prime contractors and architects are the three influential project members that can affect significant changes in land use and building, depending on their understanding of the conventional delivery process and the applicability of alternate, more responsible processes. To understand how architects can positively and directly influence this move away from unsustainable practices in conventional project development, the project members and their responsibilities are defined. Also, the alternate process of 'environmentally responsible design' (ERD) is developed which lies between conventional design (currently destructive) and 'sustainable' design (an 'ideal' design which respects environmental, social and economic needs and limitations), where the degree of its adoption is dependent on the level of commitment the influential project members. To understand the process of project development and the type of interactions that the project members have with one another during the course of development, numerous interviews were conducted. These revealed the project member's responsibilities, concerns, reservations and insights as they related to environmentally responsive and conventional project delivery processes. Five main conclusions were realized from the research: (1) that currently, environmentally responsive design is not properly understood, marketed or controlled and this lack of understanding is undermining its legitimacy and adoption; (2) that the analysis of the construction industry by environmental groups is not sufficiently complex to provide viable alternatives; (3) that environmental efforts must concentrate on creating self-reinforcing settings that lower the systemic resistance to ERD; (4) that architects, as project coordinators, are best positioned to improve the development process to support ERD; and (5) that architects have a duty to improve the quality of the built environment and need to begin by collectively placing a higher priority on architectural 'craftsmanship' over 'style'.

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