Sustainable Construction


  • Sandy Halliday, Gaia Research, Edinburgh, UK

It has taken a very long time for sustainable development to be recognised as a justified restraint on inappropriate development and a primary driver of improving quality of life for all.For designers, clients and project managers this means we have to create healthy buildings and places which support communities, enhance biodiversity and contribute to reversing unsustainable trends in pollution and resource consumption. It is a very positive agenda.This groundbreaking book will help all building design, management and cost professionals to understand sustainable design and provide the technical skills needed to implement the most up-to-date concepts. Based on a hugely successful series of workshops for professionals in construction, the book covers the history of ideas, materials, measurement - both cost and benchmarking performance - environmental services, and the building design and delivery process through to post-occupancy evaluation. It covers individual buildings and the urban scale.Sustainable Construction is a master-class in how to achieve practical, affordable, replicable, sustainable design.It has something new and often surprising in it for everybody in the construction industry. For the Architect and Engineer it gives chapter and verse to the basic design issues at all scales and through the whole of the plan of workFor Quantity Surveyors and cost professionals it challenges current conventions with researched case study evidence"For clients and project managers it outlines the drivers and the justification for a sustainable approach and outlines the legislative framework; and it gives guidance on procurement and project and site management issuesFor contractors and developers it contains a wealth of case study material, rooted in practical experience and economic reality.For teachers and students it will bust myths, liberate thinking and inform design
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Building and construction professionals; architects, developers, planners and students in the fields of building, construction, architecture, urban design/urban planning, sustainability.


Book information

  • Published: December 2007
  • ISBN: 978-0-7506-6394-6


"Professor Sandy Halliday has created a great resource for construction professionals striving to understand the environmental consequences of the work they do and the materials they work with, and to find effective and economic ways to minimise or eliminate negative outcomes. Sustainable Construction has grown out of a training course for architects, clients, engineers and cost professionals on designing and delivering a sustainable built environment, and its practical application is apparent. Most of the chapters deal with specific engineering and management issues: heating, ventilation and cooling, plumbing, water and sewage, materials selection and construction processes, to name a few. Each chapter is punctuated by multiple case studies describing the implementation, including the varying degrees of success, of the methodologies discussed. The writing is engaging and accessible, and the photographs, diagrams and sidebars do much to further illuminate the text. It will therefore serve wonderfully well as a reference guide for highly technical specialities, but readers who skipped the introduction and opening chapters would miss the true beauty of this book. Prof. Halliday takes an overarching view of the subject of sustainability, pulling together the various threads of resource imbalance, historical awareness, political response and construction practice to arrive at a robust understanding of where we are, how we got here and what we could – and should – be doing about it. Thus the later, more technical chapters are comfortably located within a clear context of the nature of the problem and the pressing need for a solution. Having said that, this is no polemic. Assessments are clear-eyed and pragmatic, and where more conventional construction methodologies offer better value than whizz-bang hi-tech “green” solutions, she does not hesitate to say so. Indeed one of the themes that I found most compelling was that of ‘ecominimalism’ – the concept that more can often be accomplished with less, and that simple, often traditional solutions can be both better for the environment, and easier on the wallet, than high-maintenance, high-cost engineering. Sustainable Construction is a profoundly usable guide to building appropriately for the world we inhabit, so that it remains a renewing resource for future generations. It’s also that rarest of things for a supposedly technical document: a truly inspiring piece of work." Stephanie Saulter, Project Manager, The Shoreditch Trust "There was a tradition in Scottish universities that the Professor lectured to first year students, working on the principle that deep knowledge and understanding of a subject is needed before it can be explained in simple terms to the un-initiated. In Sandy Halliday’s new book she has produced the ideal text for such lectures – wise discussion and guidance on the principles of sustainable construction and a plethora of references for those who wish to follow up particular subjects in more detail. The book draws extensively on work, both research and practice, by the Gaia group and embodies the group’s philosophy of keeping things simple – “…real priority areas for attention are design fundamentals, not technical add-ons" But not over-simplified; “No amount of energy efficiency, nor any other single-issue campaign will deliver sustainable development…Over-simplification encourages one-dimensional solutions, short cuts, shallow questions and potentially bad laws” Having laid out her stall, Sandy covers the ground from the general to the particular, staring with chapters on sustainability drivers and policy and legislation, to more detailed topics - ventilation and cooling strategies and renewable technology - concluding with a discussion of urban ecology. This is a most attractively designed book profusely illustrated with case studies of a range of sustainable buildings, several by the Scottish and Norwegian branches of Gaia Architects. It is so attractive it could almost pass as a “coffee table book” but is much more. The illustrations go back in time to some of the pioneers of eco-design; old favourites include Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1945 solar hemicycle house, the unsung pioneer Emslie Morgan’s 1961 solar heated Wallasey school, and the wonderfully ramshackle 1974 punk house in London by the “Street Farmers”. Unable to assimilate the whole book in the time available, I decided to focus attention on the chapter I knew least about, “ventilation and cooling strategies”. As a result I understand a lot more than I did, but I found some mystifyingly obscure diagrams, which appeared to lack annotation, and I confess to being completely baffled by dessicant cooling, despite (or because of?) the diagram on p271. But the “rules of thumb” at the end of each chapter are an excellent support for numerically lazy architects and help to reinforce the understanding of the principles involved. The book is full of quirky details. I liked the Scandinavian sounding “Olf” the unit of personal pollution given off by “an average sedentary adult in thermal comfort with a hygiene standard of 0.7 baths/day”. Also the use of a wasps nest to illustrate moisture transfusive construction and Elvis the treadmill hamster, a renewable re-charger of mobile phones. This book should be read by every construction professional, and be on every student’s reading list. It is the product of half a lifetime’s work on sustainability, based on Gaia’s eco-minimalist approach “the most important factors in delivering sustainability are a clear understanding, high aspiration and constant vigilance.” If only more designers would follow that advice." Jim Johnson, Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) magazine

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Sustainability DriversThis chapter provides a review of the principle milestones which have brought about the shift in attitudes towards sustainable design of the built environment. Chapter 2: Policy and LegislationThis chapter aims to highlight the key policy drivers for the creation of more-sustainable construction and the legislative requirements that need to be met. Chapter 3: Cost IssuesThis chapter undertakes a comprehensive review of the cost implications of 'green' building.Chapter 4: Appraisal Tools and TechniquesA thorough and concise review of methods of obtaining feedback from buildings in use and the history of development of the techniques with a series of case studies largely taken from the PROBE studies. Chapter 5: Materials SelectionThis chapter aims to give the reader a sound and broad grasp of the issues and priorities affecting materials selection in the design of places, buildings, services and objects and a realistic perspective on the range of issues which will affect decision making. Chapter 6: Low Impact ConstructionThis chapter looks at recent innovative initiatives to design using very low impact materials such as straw, earth, hemp and timber. Chapter 7: HeatingThis concise document aims to enable the reader to be better equipped to deliver high quality buildings which have a low heating demand and retain a positive affect on health and well being. Chapter 8: Electrical InstallationsThis chapter is intended to help designers to develop strategies for low impact electrical services design and to implement them effectively. Chapter 9: Lighting and Daylighting This chapter is designed to enable the professional to be better able to make informed decisions about lighting & daylighting design. It directs the reader to contemporary tools and guidance which will assist in implementing best practice. Chapter 10: Ventilation and Cooling StrategiesMany buildings remain less comfortable and healthy then they might be and consume unnecessary energy for ventilation & cooling. This chapter seeks to highlight the principal issues and sources of guidance. Chapter 11: Renewable Technologies Increasingly part of the design pallet and with increasing support from government, renewables are still new to the vast majority of designers and clients. This chapter will give guidance on how to make best use of the available opportunities and how to go about designing and specifying appropriate systems. Chapter 12: Water and Sewage ManagementThis chapter considers the flow of water through buildings. It looks at its efficient use, the appropriate treatment of the wastewater discharged and the potential for reuse. It also considers rain falling on and around buildings, the potential for reuse and appropriate discharge. Chapter 13: Construction ProcessesThis chapter provides best practice guidance on tender evaluation, site practice, management and handover. Chapter 14: Urban EcologyThis chapter considers the sustainable design of the built environment of our cities and countryside.