Reducing the environmental impact of buildings

  • Reducing the environmental impact of buildings

    David Shiers

    An environmental legacy has been created from research at Oxford Brookes and has led to a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of construction projects.

    The Green Guide to Specification is an environmental profiling system that enables designers and constructors to select building materials and components which have the lowest environmental impact.

    Designed at Oxford Brookes and developed in association with BRE, the Green Guide methodology provides the construction industry with reliable environmental evaluations based on quantitative Life Cycle Assessment data.

    Reducing environmental impacts

    Now in its 4th edition and part of the BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes programmes, Green Guide has been used to reduce environmental impacts for over 230,000 recorded construction projects, with a further 1.07 million projects registered awaiting certification worldwide.

    Green Guide has become the industry and legislative standard.

    David Shiers of Oxford Brookes is the originator and developer of the methodology and author and project co-coordinator in all the four editions of Green Guide. Prior to his work, no reliable method existed to evaluate and compare the environmental impacts of construction materials.

    Since its introduction in 1996, Green Guide has become the industry and legislative standard for the selection of lower environmental impact construction materials.

    From 2007 onwards, Green Guide rated materials have had to be specified as part of the Code for Sustainable Homes standards which are now required in order for any new residential development in the UK to be granted Planning Permission.

    Green Guide is also cited in the UK Government’s Homes and Communities Quality Standards (2007) and has been the official UK Government Buying Standard for all construction products.

    Internationalisation of the Green Guide

    The first and second editions of Green Guide predominately utilised UK environmental data gathered from industry and UK Government sources. Over time, the international nature of many environmental concerns, including resources use and atmospheric emissions, has been increasingly accounted for in the Green Guide data collection and analysis.

    The authors of Green Guide have produced a number of academic papers and reports, helping to broaden the research community’s understanding of the environmental impacts of construction products.

    As stated in the London Olympic Development Plan, in which Green Guide was used as the key text in determining the selection of construction materials, the challenge is to continue to “identify, source, and use environmentally and socially responsible materials” in order to leave “a lasting social, economic and environmental legacy”.

    Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR. Further information on David Shiers can be found on his profile page.