An Evaluation of Environmental Assessment Methods


Article Preview

After successive global environmental conferences in which national governments pledged to reduce carbon emissions, there is ever-increasing scrutiny on the construction industry. This is because the energy used in the production of building materials and subsequently required to power a completed building form a substantial part of the overall carbon emissions generated by society. The response from both public and private sector interests around the world has been to enhance the importance of environmental assessments – both of building methods and the finished product – almost in inverse proportion to the tolerance for energy waste. The standards required by individual states vary considerably: part of this is down to local climate and geographical considerations, but a major consideration is the incentives offered for meeting a given standard. These consist primarily of tax credits and quality certificates, and the right to promote a building as “green”, thus improving the reputation of its designers and sales potential for buyers. Some of the various Assessment organisations around the world have already franchised their standards to other countries (both government-sponsored and private enterprises) and continue to form partnerships with each other, usually in the same continent or hemisphere. The principal aim appears to be expanding the influence of that particular environmental standard. There is the real possibility of environmental assessment methods in certain countries becoming counter-productive: in the rush to standardize, actual improvements made possible by new technologies are rendered useless by political manoeuvring to make a particular standard “the one” to use.



Edited by:

Mingjin Chu, Huizhong Xu, Zhilin Jia, Yun Fan and Jiangping Xu




J. Hubert and A. B Jahromi, "An Evaluation of Environmental Assessment Methods", Applied Mechanics and Materials, Vols. 178-181, pp. 1041-1045, 2012

Online since:

May 2012




[1] Krech III, S., McNeill, J. and Merchant, C. (eds). Encyclopaedia of world environmental history (Vols. I, II and III). Routledge, London and New York, (2004).

[2] World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Our Common Future, Oxford University Press: Oxford, (1987).

[3] May, B., Schindler, A. It's Not Easy Being Green: Sustainable Development and the New Color of Construction. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon PLC, American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL) seminar archive, Rockville, Maryland, (2005).

[4] Building Research Establishment (BRE). BREEAM: The Environmental Assessment Method for Buildings Around The World, 2011. Information onhttp: /www. breeam. org/index. jsp.

[5] Starrs, M. (ed. ) BREEAM versus LEED, White Paper from Inbuilt Ltd, Kings Langley, Herts, 2010. Document online http: /www. inbuilt. co. uk/media/406565/breeamvsleed. pdf.

[6] Building Research Establishment (BRE). BREEAM: Code for Sustainable Homes, 2010-12. Information on http: /www. breeam. org/page. jsp?id=86.

[7] Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). Code for Sustainable Homes, Planning, building and the environment (the Code). RIBA Publishing, London, (2010).

[8] U.S. Green Building Council. LEED: Guidance on Innovation & Design (ID) Credits, 2004. Document online http: /www. usgbc. org/Docs/LEEDdocs/IDcredit_guidance_final. pdf.

[9] U.S. Green Building Council. LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, Washington, DC, (2009).

[10] Starrs, M. Communicating sustainable solutions for the built environment. Elemental, blog, London, February 2010. Information on: http: /www. melstarrs. com/elemental/2010/01/18/breeam-2008-vs-leed-2009-introduction.

[11] Parker, J. BREEAM or LEED - strengths and weaknesses of the two main environmental assessment methods. The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA), Bracknell, Berks, 2009. Information on: http: /www. bsria. co. uk/news/breeam-or-leed.

[12] Say, C., Wood, A. Sustainable rating systems around the world. Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat at the Illinois Institute of Technology: CTBUH Journal 2008 Issue II.

[13] DGNB Deutche Gesellschaft fur Nachhaltiges Bauen/German Sustainable Building Council. Excellence Defined. Sustainable Building with a Systems Approach. DGNB brochure, Stuttgart, Germany, (2010).


[14] Miller, N., Spivey, J. and Florance, A. Does Green pay Off? Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management, 2008, 14, No. 4.