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By : Nico Maiellaro


Industry is starting to take up sustainability as part of mainstream business, however there is a need to make the reasons for such action relevant to both the developer and the designer - usually the former minimizes first costs without considering life cycle costs, health, comfort and productivity; the latter makes use of standard details or plans which are average, acceptable but unoptimized. They have no real incentive to try new techniques or products because they do not profit directly from a building’s operational cost savings, environmental performance or worker productivity. On the other hand, any added cost for sustainable building are a concern for clients.
Market transformation programs dealing with sustainable building may find a receptive audience among designers, as shown in a questionnaire on the foreseeable implications of sustainable development in the construction industry distributed in different countries by the CIB W82 project group (Bourdeau et al., 1998). Referring to the question “What kind of skills and standards will be required and what does this entail for human resources and skills needed in the construction industry?”, the following topic was stressed: “environmental performances are to become measurable using green certifications, eco-labelling systems and performance based standards in building codes”. Similar results where achieved by other surveys:
- financial incentives, educational programs, stricter state or local building code requirements and voluntary sustainable design guidelines and construction standards are needed (Landman, 1999);
- introduction of rules and standards for sustainability and eco-compatibility in planning and design are recommended (Dipartimento di Processi e Metodi della Produzione Edilizia, 1997);
- introduction of new standards for a rational use of energy - exhaustive and simplified in their application - to improve energy saving and reduce environmental damages are requested (Cardinale et al., 1999).
The above-mentioned reports are certainly not exhaustive, but they are significant especially for the concordance of the results on the need of standards and certifications - a common vision is that there will be no sustainable building project unless sustainable topics are integrated into standards.
Theoretical proposals and suggestions are widely available; the many green building codes and initiatives approved in the United States - together with the width of the market - represent a valuable resource for contexts, such as Italy, characterized by lack of sustainable building standards and clear voluntary programs. Contexts in a European framework such as these are inclined to introduce only energy audits.

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