SORTED Guide to Sustainability in Further Education – Part 5 - Estates and Operations – 5.6 Estates and Operations: sustainable construction and refurbishment

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Introduction to the topic area

The processes needed to achieve sustainable design, material selection and construction are no different to those required to achieve any other aspect of good design. They rely on an understanding of the issues, an ability to respond to site and client specifics and a wider understanding of the cultural, regulatory and technical context.

Sustainable construction as a process has a set of simple goals: minimise waste on and off site; reuse materials and make use of reused or recycled materials; avoid the use of complex components that are difficult to recycle at the end of life; and choose construction systems that can actually be delivered by local operatives either through existing or by introducing new skill sets.

Design is a holistic process that seeks to create the best solution across a broad range of requirements, which includes social and economic sustainability as well as environmental responsibility. A good designer will always look first at exploiting the opportunities of the site and the client's brief to produce a building which, as far as possible, works passively to minimise energy and resource use. The next step is to design in technologies that minimise resource demand, that are appropriate to the site, the building occupants’ needs and their capacity to manage and operate them. Designing to allow future flexibility, changes of use, easy maintenance and eventual disassembly and reuse will lengthen the useful life of a building and minimise its impact at the end of its life.

Organisational value of embedding sustainability in this area

Wider benefits of embedding sustainability in this area

The FE sector has a role to play in demonstrating good practice, in terms of raising awareness and leading by example. Supporting local business innovation can help to grow businesses in the local area, which in turn will support employment of outgoing students.

Getting started

Ask your EAUC Scotland colleagues for support via EAUC Scotland Sustainable Construction Topic Support Network.

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