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Beadle, K (2008) Analysis of the design process for low-energy housing, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, De Montfort University.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: case study; construction cost; content analysis; decision analysis; design process; environmental impact; housing development; interview; motivation; partnering; professional; project team; RIBA; sustainability
  • URL: https://www.dora.dmu.ac.uk/handle/2086/4271
  • Abstract:
    The present thesis presents an extensive description and analysis of the design process for a large-scale low-energy housing development (196 houses). The research is used to question the appropriateness of the RIBA Plan of Work for the delivery of low-energy housing and to give a unique insight into the motivations and interrelationships ofproject team members. A mixed-methods approach was used to collect and analyse data. Qualitative data were collected from participant observation of over 40 design and construction meetings at the case-study development, as well as from documents distributed at these meetings. In addition, members of the core design team were interviewed. Data from these various sources were analysed using template, documentary and quantitative content analysis. Decision analysis was used to investigate factors that affected the environmental impact of the houses. The impact of these decisions (and of particular decision makers) is discussed. The EcoHomes Standard had the largest influence on decisions, and many were renegotiated in construction to the detriment of the houses' environmental performance. The research reveals that some project team members lacked understanding of the cost of sustainable construction. Several parties added up to 30% to actual construction costs. The experience of designing and constructing the low-energy houses increased all project team members' knowledge, and apparently changed how many operated and thought in their professional roles. Partnering and trust were very important in the project team, and good working relationships were essential. Cost (especially affordability of the houses) and sustainability were the strongest influences on decisions cited by project team members. However, compromises on the sustainability of the houses were observed because of the cost implications of some low-energy technologies, materials and building techniques. The RIBA Plan of Work did not hold the key to incorporating sustainability into the design process, as this was shown to be embedded in other issues, such as project team relations.