Understanding sustainability in real estate: a focus on measuring and communicating success in green building Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Wedding, G. Christopher
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
  • This dissertation aims to bring scientific and quantitative rigor to the important yet ambiguous concept of sustainable development in real estate, with a specific focus on a single, but critical, aspect of real estate - how the energy-related impacts from certified green buildings relate to impacts expected from such third-party approved environmentally friendly buildings. Criteria - graphical and statistical - are offered as means by which to judge the strength of the relationship between these impacts and different certification levels of the dominant US standard for green building, the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The goal is to improve the foundation for better environmental and development decisions by organizations or governments at the level of strategy, policy and practice. Chapter 1 frames the issue by describing and defining sustainability, especially in the real estate sector. The difference between marginal and absolute sustainability is also highlighted, along with a review of attempts to measure progress in sustainable development. Chapter 2 focuses on quantifying the variation and magnitude of nine energy-related environmental impacts from LEED buildings by creating and using probabilistic models to simulate thousands of LEED buildings and their corresponding impacts. The notion is that while LEED began as a tool to stimulate market change, with its growth and use as a symbol of the sustainability of an organization has come a second purpose - to serve as a tool for environmental management. Next, for Chapter 3, in order to reduce the variation and magnitude of the nine impacts analyzed in Chapter 2, specific alterations to LEED's Energy & Atmosphere category were proposed. Additional ways to integrate environmental metrics and normalization into the scoring and certification of LEED buildings are also suggested. With approximately 3 billion square feet of registered or certified LEED buildings and growing concerns about "greenwashing," it is important to ensure that users of LEED receive a set of benefits comparable to those expected. Chapter 4 reviews the strengths and limitations of this research. The broader implication of the aims, methods and criteria used in this research are also considered.
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  • Crawford-Brown, Douglas J.
  • Open access

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