Future-Proofed Design for Sustainable Urban Settlements: Integrating Futures Thinking into the Energy Performance of Housing Developments

Maria-Christina P. Georgiadou
Centre for Sustainable Development, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Theophilus Hacking
Development Director, University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, United Kingdom

Ladda ner artikelhttp://dx.doi.org/10.3384/ecp110573277

Ingår i: World Renewable Energy Congress - Sweden; 8-13 May; 2011; Linköping; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 57:36, s. 3277-3284

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Publicerad: 2011-11-03

ISBN: 978-91-7393-070-3

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper investigates sustainable building and low energy housing at a neighbourhood or city district scale. In particular; it examines how futures thinking on the energy performance can be integrated into the selection of building components; materials and low or zero carbon technologies. A multiple case study is undertaken in European housing developments that represent sustainable communities of ‘best practice’. A literature review on the need for long-term thinking in the built environment research is followed by the definition of ‘future-proofed design’ and its application to the energy performance of housing developments. The extent to which building strategies in selected urban settlements have been ‘future-proofed’ is assessed. The analysis of the case studies includes a set of identified trends and drivers affecting the energy performance of buildings by 2050. The building strategies that explicitly accommodate these future aspects in these projects are also examined. Results suggest that the vast majority of building decisions focus predominantly on cost-effective solutions; such as energy efficiency measures. The use of renewable energy technologies; low embodied energy components; and new methods of construction relate to a demonstration project or any specific regulatory requirements. It is shown that ‘best practices’ accommodate predictable trends and drivers rather than exploring a wider spectrum of plausible futures. This reveals the tendency to neglect long-term thinking due to the complexity of dealing with uncertainty and the short-term mindset of the building industry. It is concluded that building strategies need to be more flexible to adapt to climate change; accommodate future changes and follow the increasingly stringent building regulations. A new generation of decision-support tools that combine futures techniques with mainstream sustainability assessment methods should also be developed.


Sustainability; Housing developments; Energy performance; Future-proofing; Building strategies


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