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Baba, A (2013) Developing a decision support framework for low carbon housing design and delivery in the UK, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Architecture and Built Environment , University of the West of England, Bristol.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: building design; building performance; climate change; decision making; design process; environmental impact; housing design; interview; simulation; sustainability; UK
  • URL: https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/932936
  • Abstract:
    There is an increasing drive to achieve sustainability agenda, as well as climate change challenges. The construction industry is facing increasing pressure to address environmental performance earlier in the design process. For UK buildings, design is believed to be the key in delivering the low carbon agenda. Hence, a fundamental change to designers’ approach in designing for low impact buildings is needed. The ways design decisions are made can greatly influence the outcomes of design. Fundamental design decisions taken early in the design process have far-reaching environmental impacts later on. Better informed design, from the earliest conceptual stage, will improve the design of individual buildings, and help achieve low impact buildings. For this reason, tools have become a necessity for the early and on-going consideration of environmental performance and an important delivery mechanism to aid architects’ design and decision making to deliver the low impact buildings. However, the existing decision support tools had not addressed in full the expectation of architects. Design-decision support tools, specifically the Building Performance Energy Simulation (BPES) are not fully integrated into the design process, to enable UK architects to make informed decision especially at the early stage of the design process. Thus, the study seeks to provide a decision support framework for architects to achieve low carbon housing (LCHs) design in the United Kingdom (UK). It sets out to determine how UK architects can achieve the design; what the needs of architects are in BPES tools characteristics to deliver the design and what design decision tasks are required, towards development of the decision support framework. Consequently, the research examined low carbon housing design. Existing statutory and non-statutory regulations, as well as design and decision support tools, which relate to low carbon housing design and delivery, were identified. These were used to frame the questions for the qualitative semi structured, face-to-face and in-depth interviews with practicing architects and academics. Online questionnaires were also administered to a representative sample of UK architectural practices to investigate the fitness of purpose between decision-support tools and design decision-making to achieve low carbon housing. Data analysis revealed that there is a lack of fitness between existing decision support tools, in the form of Building Performance Energy Simulation (BPES) tools, and the various stages of the design process. It emerged that architects use BPES tools, primarily at the later stage of the process. Support for the early design stage remains poor, especially at the conceptual stage of the design process. The findings confirmed that design decisions for LCHs vary significantly in terms of level of accuracy, flexibility, and detail. At the early stages of the process, as relatively little information is available, flexibility and approximation in BPES tools is more relevant to support design decisions. As the design develops, and more information becomes available, precision and higher level of detail in BPES tools is required. Thus, the research developed a decision support framework which defines the characteristics of BPES tools fit for architects design and decision making; it also maps out an integrated building design process (IBDP) that includes the use of BPES tools. Implications of the study on research, software development and design practice are finally examined.