Sustainable development is an essentially (socially and scientifically) contested notion, because it is inherently complex, normative, subjective and ambiguous (Kasemir et al., 2003).

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade, and despite efforts to curb emissions in a number of countries which are signatories of the Kyoto Protocol[1] (Global Carbon Project, 2008).

The ratio of 1:5:200 is a key indicator of building lifecycle costs where; 1 represents construction cost, 5 presents maintenance and building operation cost and 200 is the business cost. In other words, the building whole life cost is five times the construction cost (Loh et al., 200x).



As a process, building design process happens prior to construction process. The construction process aims to deliver the design into a physical reality (Kagioglou, et al., 2000).

Design process is considered to be one of the main barriers or enablers to the delivering projects on time, to budget and specified quality (Bibby et al., 2003). According to Bibby (2003) the design accounts for 3-10% of the total project cost whilst the design process influences up to 70% of the final cost (Bibby et al., 2003)- once the total information for the project is generated and issued for the construction phase (Gray and Hughes, 2006). A poor design performance is a major cause for the construction delays and defects which is more significant than those resulting from poor workmanship and site management (Bibby et al., 2003). A good design process is synonymous with the construction process (BIS, 2008), and a good construction process is the one that benefits from the effective co-ordination and cooperation that is implemented earlier in the design process (Kagioglou, et al., 2000). However, findings from related literature shows that building design process has been seriously neglected (Bibby, 2003), inconsistently managed (Tzortzopoulos and Cooper, 2007), rarely explored and exemplified in the past (Freire and Alarcon, 2002).

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Austin et al., (2002) and Magent et al., (2009) states that a poor design process is the result of poor communication between stakeholders; poor timing of decisions; uncertainty in the design brief; lack of relevant competencies within design managers; ineffective collaboration; little understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of design; and weak and unconsidered decision making. The design process is a complex activity which requires co-ordination between client, architects, project managers, structural engineers, building services engineers and marketing consultants (Tzortzopoulos and Cooper, 2007 and; Magent et al., 2009).

Definition of Design Process

Design as a generic term is defined differently by different domains and individuals (Cooper and Press, 1995). The design process itself is considered to be a highly complex mental process where there is no universally accepted model to map the process of design (Gray and Hughes, 2006; Lawson, 2006; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper, 2007 and Magent et al., 2009). However, according to Cooper and Press (1995) the definition of design process in literature is approached from two perspectives; firstly, as also put forward by Lawson (2006), it is a personal activity, i.e., task of problem solving activity and; secondly, it is a strategic planning process of product development. The former seeks to understand how a designer tackles a specific problem (internal creative process) and latter is described as the external productive process of design as part of a 'total process' of product development which is in our case is buildings (Cooper and Press 1995; Gray and Hughes, 2006 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). For the purposes of this study, the design's role is considered to be a key aspect in understanding of the building design process or the total process; therefore it is important to analyze the current literature to find out how the design issues are tackled by designers.

Whilst there are different methods of problem solving, involving different skills and modes of thought (Cooper and Press, 1995; Gray and Hughes, 2006; Lawson, 2006 and; Zunde and Bougdah, 2006), the form of the design process is thought to follow a non-linear and non-logical order (Gray and Hughes, 2006; Tunstall, 2006 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). Lawson (2006) defines the design process as a method of examining a problem. He states that design process involves a sequence of activities where the design is initiated with analysis; interpretation of the brief by studying and understanding of the client's requirements, synthesis; producing one or more solutions, appraisal; testing of those solutions against some explicit or implicit criteria and feedback; communicating the solution to the parties involved with the project. Some designers also work in the direction of 'feedback, appraisal, synthesis and analysis' which is an 'intuitive' way of testing possible solutions or ideas to see if the answer satisfies the brief (Tunstall, 2006).

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Gray and Hughes (2006) also propose a similar view where the process is in successive stages, however a more realistic approach has been put forward and the stages in the process is considered to be iterative and cyclical instead of a linear and systematic process. Furthermore, Magent et al., (2009) highlights that most of the technical, i.e. engineering based forms of design, follow a well-defined sequences of stages whereas architectural process models tend to be more iterative, cyclical and descriptive which is influenced by many parameters within the context, such as changes in client's requirements, complexity and technology, et cetera.

The above illustration of the design process by Lawson (2006) provides a good insight into designers' input to the project and the reason behind their judgments for some of the crucial decisions they undertake, however, as opposed by Hughes (2003), it does not provide a good systematic basis for managing the process.

Findings from the literature reviewed draws our attention to the sheer complexity of the design processes which makes it extremely difficult or impossible to come up with a generic definition of design process. An understanding of the design process is critical to a project's success, as the design process determines many aspects of the final product, ultimately the lives of the end-users of the product (Mills and Glass, 2009). However, from the literature reviewed it seems common that most designers in construction industry use multiple methods for design process which is ultimately influenced by the project, complexity, client and procurement route adopted (Tunstall, 2006 and; Magent et al., 2009).

The Design Process

While there is a much research on improvement of the design process through project management, concurrent engineering, design process evaluation methods, process models, lean design process, value management, IT support, and new organizational forms, most of these are considered to lack a solid conceptual foundation and provide a satisfactory solution to the above mentioned problems (Ballard and Koskela, 1998; Tzortzopoulos and Formosso, 1999; Austin et al., 2002; Freire and Alarcon, 2002; Bibby, 2003; Magent et al., 2009 and; Austin et al., 2007). This study will specifically attempt to define two processes; the RIBA Plan of Work and Analytical Design Process Technique (ADePT), to identify the various activities related to the role and responsibilities of design managers.

The RIBA Plan of Work

Literature review findings show that there is no universally accepted model of the design process (Cooper and Press 1995; Austin et al., 2002; Gray and Hughes, 2006; Tunstall, 2006; Magent et al., 2009 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). In UK the current building design process is managed by the RIBA Outline Plan of Work which was first published in 1964. Historically, it was used as a tool to guide administration of projects. In addition to this, the RIBA Plan of Work was used to determine what the client will get and what the architects and other members of the design team must do in order to receive the staged payments (Lawson, 2006). Although the plan of work has remained largely unchanged until 2007, the updated RIBA Plan of Work plan has responded to some of the problems that accumulated over the time to reflect the current terminologies and procurement methods (RIBA, 2007), i.e. those stated in Egan (1998, 2004) reports.

Comparison of the reviewed literature on design process and RIBA Plan of Work shows that the format and sequence of stages defined in RIBA Plan of Work follows those four phases explored in section 3.1.1. It was pointed out that the sequence of these phases were not necessarily sequential but more iterative and cyclic. This is also acknowledged by RIBA which accepts that work stages may vary or they may overlap each other (RIBA, 2007).

There are five key work stages in RIBA Plan of Work which are: Preparation, Design, Pre-Construction, Construction and Use, which each is further subdivided into more detailed set of activities. Stages A to F1 of the Plan of Work covers the building design process and comprises of various activities include general tasks and deliverables for the key work stages (Mills and Glass, 2009). These are: Appraisal, Design Brief, Concept, Design Development, Technical Design and Production Information (RIBA, 2007).

Gathering of information on client's needs and objectives and business case is captured during Appraisal stage to initiate the process. During Stage B, study of the problem is produced in Design Brief which includes a comprehensive survey information, consultations with appropriate people/authorities before coming up with possible design solutions. In Stage C an outline proposals or concept designs are prepared based on the findings from previous study and any constraints and limitations that influence the project are presented to the client. Upon approval from the client, the concept idea is prepared into a coherent working proposition in Stage D, Design Development. During Stage E most of the design features are froze and technical design and specifications is carried out to prepare a detailed information package for the next stage, Production Information- F1 (RIBA, 2008).

What are the merits and demerits of using RIBA Plan of Work?

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The RIBA Plan of Work is the most adopted and used model of the building design process in the UK (Austin et al., 1999; Hughes, 2003 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). Its wide-use within the construction industry and endurance over 47 years shows how powerful it is for the design and construction processes. Another advantage of it being its application to the different types of procurement methods selected. Based on the type of procurement method, there is a various different combination of potential overlap between the work stages to maintain the consistency (RIBA, 2007).

The RIBA Plan of Work is a prescriptive model which provides very detailed description of the operational work that has to be done for the delivery of the entire project (Hughes, 2003 and; Lawson, 2006), however it does not specifically say what to do for the design process or how it should be carried out (Lawson, 2006). The stages A-F1 of the RIBA Plan of Work require inputs and decisions from a large number of stakeholders who influences the design in different ways. Involvement and responsibilities of different domains or individuals in each stage varies, however, the tasks or activities are neither clearly defined nor distinguished within each stage (Austin et al., 2002 and; Hughes, 2003). Another weakness of RIBA Plan of Work is its original intention of function which is designed from an architectural perspective, with the architects clearly portrayed as the manager and leader of the design team (Lawson, 2006). In this respect, the RIBA Plan of Work seems to be over reliant on architects to model, plan and manage the design process, which is now becoming a more specialized division of responsibility (Gray and Hughes, 2006).

In response to the sustainable building design process which is recognized as one of the important elements of sustainable buildings (Edwards, 2007), the RIBA has published Green Guide to the Architect's Job Book- 2nd Edition (Halliday, 2007), to apply the sustainability considerations to the each work stage of the Plan of Works. In addition to this, the SUE-MoT Consortium (2009) has identified a definition of key sustainability tasks and deliverables in relation to the stages A-F1 of RIBA Plan of Work 2007, which is attached in Appendix A. However, from the literature covered there seems to be limited study focusing on their implementation to the sustainable projects as the processes are re-defined and reinvented on a project-by-project basis (Magent et al., 2009).


There are various research groups and tens of planning techniques and ICT tools available to map the design process for buildings (Kagioglou et al., 2000), however majority of these are still at experimental stage and never been applied in practice (Emmitt et al., 2009). Among these tools is the Analytical Design Planning Technique (ADePT), which seeks to map the design activities by different people to effectively plan and manage the design phase of construction projects (Austin et al., 2000).

Since its introduction in 2000, the ADePT technique has been further developed and improved and now it is becoming increasingly popular in construction projects worldwide (Newton et al., 2007). In simple terms the ADePT methodology consists of four stages: (i) firstly, a model of the building design process is produced showing the dependencies and relationships between the design activities; (ii) in the second stage, a structure matrix is produced to identify the sequence of the processes based on the dependencies between activities and the iteration within the process; (iii) in the third stage, the matrix analysis is linked to a third party planning and scheduling package to represent the design process and; (iv) finally, the design process is monitored and work flow is controlled (Newton et al., 2007).

Benefits of using ADePT technique has been highlighted in an article by Newton et al, (2007) which identifies significant advantages gained from implementing it on varied projects. Particularly its impact on design co-ordination, change management and design output has been identified as to be significantly beneficial to the projects it has been applied to (Newton et al., 2007). From the case studies covered, benefits of ADePT technique can be summarized as (Austin et al., 2000 and; Newton et al., 2007):

  • Greater certainty in design co-ordination and management,
  • Improved efficiency on design process saves money on design fee expenditure, and benefits the construction process by improving the program performance,
  • Savings on time and labour costs due to effective management of risks in complex projects,
  • Low investment cost and high rate of return (around 80% over a 9 month detailed design process),
  • Improved collaboration through web enabled interface and availability to practicing planners, project managers and designers.



Literature reviewed shows that, design management role is generally undertaken by the architects who normally act as design leader or, lead consultants who are responsible for coordinating and integrating the work of other design consultants and specialists (RIBA, 2008). However, the profession as a separate discipline in construction has emerged in response to numerous issues and reports which highlighted its need in construction projects (Latham, 1994; Egan, 1999; Kagioglou et al., 2000; Bibby, 2003; Bibby et al., 2003a; Gray and Hughes 2006; Tunstall, 2006; Tzorzopoulos and Cooper, 2007; Emmitt et al., 2009 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). These can be broadly categorized as the increased number of specialized disciplines, complexity of the construction projects, development of new types of procurement methods and growing emergence of collaborative working (Gray and Hughes 2006).

According to Gray and Hughes (2006) design management role is co-ordination of the design task to ensure the set objectives are delivered within the agreed parameters. Bibby (2003) defines design management as a professional discipline which separates the management function of a project's design phase from the design function. While Emmitt (2007) describes the role from an architect's view as an information management and coordination function. Accordingly, the design management role operates at two levels; (i) at corporate level; design management is formalized as a function in the project team and; (ii) at operational level, as a participative role in the design process (Emmitt et al., 2009). Although the role is thought to split up into two categories, they are interconnected and interact with each other (Emmitt et al., 2009).

Gray and Hughes (2006) link the role directly to the Latham and Egan reports which laid the foundations for the 'Design Management' profession. Indeed, both the Latham and Egan reports challenged the construction industry for the integration of the design, procurement and construction processes (Mills and Glass, 2009) to improve its efficiency, quality of service and products (Tunstall, 2006). As a result of new procurement routes, such as design and build (D&B), design-bid-build (DBB), Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Private Finance Imitative (PFI) (Tzorzopoulos and Cooper, 2007), contractors were expected to have an increased responsibility for the control and management of the building design process (Bibby et al., 2006). Originally contractors used to employ external consultant architects and engineers to develop the design, but to reduce wastage in the design and construction process and to maintain their competitiveness, design management has evolved as a 'must have' profession for the most contractors (Tzorzopoulos and Cooper, 2007). Today D&B accounts for the 30% of the projects, whilst the UK government, which is the major client of the industry, is set to increase the use of these types of procurement routes in public sector construction projects (Office of Government Commerce, 2006). According to the Strategic Forum for Construction (2008), the recent targets set by government aims to increase integrated project teams 40% of projects and supply chains to 30% of projects which shows that the trend will be unlikely to falter.

According to Mills and Glass (2009), the isolated development of the profession, i.e. without a professional body solely for construction design managers, and varied perspective of the different professionals involved in design has resulted in fragmented development of the profession (Tzorzopoulos and Cooper, 2007). In fact, from the literature reviewed, the Design Management profession seems to be a 'developing' one rather than a 'developed' one (Mills and Glass, 2009), thus several definitions appear to be in circulation. For the purposes of this study design management is defined as the co-ordination, control and communication of the building design process whilst integrating with the project team to deliver a high quality building.

Findings from literature review conclude that there are numerous drivers and barriers to design management practice. According to Bibby et al.,(2003) there are eight concerns in design process which needs a great deal of attention to manage the process of design more effectively. These are either directly or indirectly stated in the previous section, but to reiterate, these are (Austin et al., 2000 ; Kagioglou et al., 2000; Bibby et al., 2003; Bibby, 2003a; Austin et al., 2007; Tzorzopoulos and Cooper, 2007; Magent et al., 2009):

  • the complexity of the design process due to its cyclic and iterative nature,
  • high volume of information exchange, analysis and coordination,
  • increasing complexity of the building and its contents as well as increasing number of stakeholders involved in the projects;
  • design changes,
  • unstructured and poorly defined/detailed design process and,
  • poor information coordination.

To summarize, the literature reviewed identified numerous issues related to design process and design management role. Although there is a considerable amount of literature attempting to define, describe and analyze the profession, it seems from the literature covered that the profession is still evolving and attempts to propose solutions to above problems rely on the unstable foundation of a poorly defined and fragmented profession.

Responsibilities and Roles

As already stated above, findings from the literature show that there seems to be a lack of consensus on definition of design management (Cooper and Press, 1995; Mills and Glass; 2009). Consequently, there is a 'role ambiguity' within the design managers in the industry (Tzorzopoulos and Cooper, 2007). Research by Tzortzopoulos and Cooper, (2007) have identified that both the industry and construction design managers themselves lack the knowledge and understanding of design processes and design managers' purpose. Tunstall, (2006) suggests that this is perhaps because of the variety of procurement types as designers' roles and responsibilities will vary with the type of procurement adopted for each project. However, as pointed out by Tzortzopoulos and Cooper (2007), it is also related to the current design managers who are from varied non-design backgrounds and lack effective management of the design process. Although a generic definition of design management-which is accepted by all stakeholders, is yet to be defined, their core responsibility can be summarized to include following (Press and Cooper, 1995; Gray and Hughes, 2006; Lawson, 2006; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007 and; Mills and Glass, 2009):

  • Planning and administration of the design process right from briefing/appraisal of the project,
  • Coordinating and monitoring the design activities,
  • Organizing project design documents and control of systems,
  • Communicating with the relevant stakeholders during different stages,
  • Evaluating the quality of the design process.

A more detailed study on design managers' roles and responsibilities, in relation to the RIBA Plan of Work, is explored and attached in Appendix B. In addition to this, a detailed analysis of design managers' roles and responsibilities is also explored in Appendix C. Findings from the literature review identified that the above mentioned points are covered in various stages of the RIBA Plan of Work. As already mentioned before, the pre-construction stages of RIBA Plan of Work (A to F1) are generally open ended, and stages normally overlap. So in the appraisal stage, depending on the experience of the client, knowledge and approach, design managers either involve actively or passively in the appraisal process (Tunstall, 2006). These stages involve lots of information gathering and decision making to enable the design team to come up with solutions to problems identified earlier in the briefing process (Austin et al., 2002). In the following stages, however, design managers are actively involved in executing, coordinating, monitoring, planning, resourcing, and evaluating wide range of tasks (Austin et al., 2002; Gray and Hughes, 2006; Lawson, 2006; Tunstall, 2006; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007; Magent et al., 2009 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). Design managers at various stages will need to make individual decisions as some parameters in the design or in the brief will still be uncertain, so, coordination of gradual development of process elements will be one of their core responsibility (Austin et al., 2002 and; Gray and Hughes, 2006). Changes can be unavoidable after design reviews (Emmitt, 2007), hence planning, coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation is also found to be their main roles in the design process. Design managers are also considered to be key in the network of design processing, through procurement into construction, commissioning and handover (Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007). This implies that they are expected to play an active part within the larger network of activities; liaising and coordinating design team, the client, subcontractors, and various other stakeholders (Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007). For example they are expected to resource and contribute to the construction process documentation such as Health and Safety issues, risk assessments and the requirements of Construction Design Management Regulations (CDM) legislations etc. (Tunstall, 2006).

In addition to general roles and responsibilities of design managers, their responsibility in relation to the sustainable construction is also an equally important area to cover. In a broad context, design managers are considered to have an important responsibility and play a key role in achieving the sustainability objectives of a project as their involvement in early stages of the project determines many aspects of the final product (Bibby, 2003, Magent et al., 2009 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). They are one of the key players in collaboration (Gray and Hughes, 2006). Collaboration between design managers and people involved in the design and construction process is part of a wider network which shares the same project objectives- especially sustainability objectives.

In conclusion, it appears from the literature covered that there is a general consensus among scholars and practitioners that clarification is needed as to what design management encompasses as well as what their boundaries are, as they are required to perform a diverse range of tasks (Cooper and Press, 1995; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). Mills and Glass (2009) elucidates that the difficulties in defining design managers' roles is due to deficiencies in current definitions of design managers' skills. Along with skills deficit, lack of authority which limits their potential influence on the processes, lack of consideration by stakeholders (particularly clients) and unwillingness of the construction industry to change, forms a barrier to depict consensus on many aspects of design management (Bibby at al., 2003, Mills and Glass, 2009).

Also, findings from the literature reviewed reveal that the current daily activities of design managers' are too vague to identify. In addition to this, it seems that the tasks they undertake for any sustainability related issues are not considerably researched. This is an area where a further study is needed to identify their precise role, involvement, and decisions which impacts the sustainable development or sustainability assessment of their projects

Skills for Design Management

To accomplish their roles and responsibilities design managers need appropriate skills in order to carry out the variety of tasks related to their work. There are various thoughts and suggestions into what design managers should be equipped with (Press and Cooper, 1995; Bibby et al., 2003; Gray and Hughes, 2006; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007; CIOB, 2007 and; Mills and Glass, 2009). From the literature reviewed generic skills of the design managers can be categorized into; (a) Technical skills, (b) Managerial skills and; (c) Communication skills.

The above mentioned skills are very broad and vague descriptions of the skills that a design manager should posses. However, from the literature reviewed defining the skills of design managers is not as straightforward as identifying the roles and responsibilities of design managers (Mills and Glass, 2009). The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) gives an idea of their expectation from graduates of design management programmes and what skills they should be equipped with to become a chartered member, which include (CIOB, 2007):

  • ability to acquire, develop and use communication skills,
  • ability to process, use and present analytical information,
  • ability to use basic ICT skills,
  • ability to work with others,
  • ability to self-organize, plan and manage a personal learning programme,
  • an understanding and application of health and safety to working environment.

Similarly, Tzortzopoulos and Cooper propose seven essential skills for design managers: "(i) design procurement, (ii) commercial interface, (iii) project standards, (iv) design coordination, (v) design verification, (vi) programme and performance measurement and, (vii) project systems (IT focused)" (2007). One additional point to be noted in here is that, from the majority the literature reviewed, three themes are strongly emphasized as the core skill required from design managers, (a) communication, (b) team-working and, (c) managerial skills (Press and Cooper, 1995; Bibby et al., 2003; Gray and Hughes, 2006; Tunstall, 2006; Emmitt, 2007; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007; CIOB, 2007; 2009; Emmit et al., 2009; Magent et al., 2009 and; Mills and Glass, 2009).

Although there are limited studies which looks into design managers' skills, the ones available (Bibby, et al., 2003; Tzortzopoulos and Cooper 2007 and; Mills and Glass, 2009) report the similar problems currently faced in the industry. While Bibby et al., (2003) and Tzortzopoulos and Cooper (2007) identify the skills requirement from a contractor's perspective, Mills and Glass (2009) looks into drivers and barriers to skills deficit within the design management role today. All reports identify that there is a need for skills acquisition and skills improvement to deliver projects which is on programme, to budget and risk free (Bibby, et al., 2003). Mills and Glass (2009) go further to specify what skills/attributes would be most beneficial to skills acquisition, i.e. technical knowledge, understanding and awareness of the design process, passion leadership, experience and communication, and what would be needed to improve the current skills of design managers, for example, going through continual professional development (CPD) and representation of design managers at an institutional level (Mills and Glass, 2009). In relation to sustainable building design management skills, Mills and Glass (2009) propose further fifteen sets of skills relevant to construction design managers' role in delivering sustainable buildings. Furthermore, four essential points are recommended for design managers which are (Mills and Glass, 2009):

  1. Identifying and incorporating sustainability into the project brief right from appraisal,
  2. Adopting and implementing sustainable design and construction procedures as standard practice,
  3. Exploring and initiating the cross-generational skills collaboration among design managers,
  4. Leading sustainable building design.

The above points are also outlined in CIOB's Educational Framework report which cites the set of skills required in relation to sustainability (CIOB, 2007). The framework briefly outlines the sustainability areas and what competency they require from applicants who are from different academic (design management) programmes. There are two areas where graduates are required to show their competency in relation to sustainability: (a) construction environment and, (b) construction technology. It seems that both CIOB (2007) and Mills and Glass (2007) agree on the skills what design managers should be equipped with, however effectiveness and application of those skills by design managers is also another area where a further study is needed.

Design Management Tools

Any procedure, standard document or schedule that aids the management of building design process is considered to be a tool for design managers (Bibby et al., 2003). There are variety of tools to assist design managers to carry out their activities (Press and Cooper, 1995) but the according to the literature reviewed, the ones developed for construction design managers are fragmented, insufficiently developed, poorly deployed and couched in abstract terms (Bibby et al., 2003). Although there are numerous studies focusing on the tools that design managers use in their daily activities (Bibby et al., 2003 and; Mills and Glass, 2009), they only prescribe the tools in general, broad categories.

The tools required to assist design managers in meeting those responsibilities stated earlier, are assigned to each stage of RIBA Outline Plan of Work, which is attached in Appendix D. An important point to highlight here is that some of these tools are intermittently used but majority of them are used throughout the project, for example, once a medium is agreed and established to communicate data between stakeholders. As no specific study into design managers' tools seems to appear in literature reviewed, the information gathered is an assumption of what design managers could use to perform those activities stated in the RIBA Plan of Work (See Appendix C). Nevertheless, it should not be disregarded just because it's an assumption, as it can at least give an insight into what type of tools are required to perform the activities.


ICT Tools

According to the literature reviewed the adoption of new tools can be disadvantage. One of the fundamental requirements for collaboration and integration is shared tools strategy (Emmitt, 2007). Rivalry between tools will cause in inefficient communication and disjointed working methods...

Lützkendorf and Lorenz (2006) suggest that if design process is to be benefited from sustainability assessment, it requires tools which are:

  • readily available,
  • adequately documented and explained,
  • user friend and deliver interpretable results,
  • provides education and training for end-users,
  • able to refer the user to case studies for design optimization,
  • capable of generating documents and reports,
  • adjustable to end-users (designers' or planners' ) working methods and,
  • capable of processing design information input during different design stages.

There are tools, many already used in the construction industry, that can be adopted by the company. However, employees must be motivated to use any new technique otherwise its deployment is likely to fail.bibby

3D Modelling Tools and Visualasation Tools

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Most approaches to sustainability assessment have so far been sectoral (e.g. Kapelan et al., 2005) with a few attempts to integrate sustainability assessment tools with Building Information Modeling (BIM). Decision support tools available for sustainability assessment also tend to lack systematic risk and uncertainty models and good use of visualization techniques to support deliberative, discussion led dialogue between stakeholders. The former is significant in light of socio-economic and climate change and the latter for communication, group decision making and explicitness in value judgments (Hurley et al., 2009).



At least 300 definitions of sustainable development have been put forward to grasp the essence of sustainable development, but through its inherently normative, subjective and ambiguous nature it is impossible to come up with a definition that is fully accepted by all stakeholders in every context (Kapelan et al., 2005; Weaver and Rotmans, 2006). In his book of Sustainability Principles, Dresner (2008) highlights an important point on definition of sustainability. He gives an example from Donella Meadows who compares the linguistic confusion of sustainable development to the Eskimo words for snow (Dresner, 2008; pg.72):

"Eskimos with all their supposed words for snow needed them and pointed to this kind of snow- you used this word, and that kind of snow, you used that word. Often enough that everyone had a shared experience of snow X and snow Y and snow Z. And then they didn't have to go through all the rigmarole, but for a while they had to..."

At the moment, notion of sustainable development is not fully settled; hence, what we are going through is a transformation from rigmarole to a shared experience of the problem, which is thought to be a long-term process (several decades) of sustainability planning (Dresner, 2008). Rotmans (2006) believes that 'logical' and 'perspective' recognition of the phenomena requires co-evolution, emergence and self-organisation in order to organize a cyclical process of envisioning, agenda-building, coalition-forming, experimenting and learning.

The most widely quoted definition of sustainable development and effectively the official one is that of Brundtland Commission:

'Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' (WCED, 1987)

According to WCED this definition contains the two key concepts of sustainable development. The definition recognizes:

  • "The concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given;
  • The environmental limits; the idea of limitations imposed by the state of the technology and social organizations on the environment's ability to meet present (intergenerational) and future (intragenerational) needs" (Dresner, 2008).

However, Weaver and Rotmans (2006) argues that, this anthropocentric definition in Brundtland report is indistinct in three ways; firstly, it is normative because future generations are implicitly supposed to have at least the same resources as the current generation, so the norm that is set is the intergenerational equity. Secondly, the definition is subjective or value-laden, because it requires an estimation of what the need of future generation will be and how these needs can be fulfilled. And lastly, it is also ambiguous due to the trade-offs it requires between social-cultural, economic and ecological developments that can be valued and weighed differently (Weaver and Rotmans, 2006). Some scholars such as Sachs, (1999) see it as an oxymoron definition: contradicting goals of satisfying the needs of current and future generations.

The concept of defining sustainable development is very complex and often contestable. Complex as it cannot be adequately addressed from a holistic perspective and contestable because there is variety of competing interpretations or conceptions (Dresner, 2008). Though the concept of how to achieve sustainable development is varied- i.e.: through economic growth, equity, limits to growth, environmental space, green-taxation, emissions trading and 'business-as-usual' et cetera (Turner et al., 1994; Kirkby et al., 1995: Brown 1995; Daly, 1995; Pearce, 1995; Gibson et al., 2005 and; Dresner 2008), there is a broad consensus among many stakeholders that sustainable development concept draws together three broad themes: economic, environmental and social.

These three themes can be regarded as the three pillars of sustainable development, each interconnected and interrelated. Focusing on this paradigm is convenient because these factors are traditional fields of policy making, scholarly enquiry and specialized research. Nevertheless, it is also a mere simplification of the bigger picture. The issue of sustainability should be depicted in much richer, more diverse and holistic context. Gibson et al., (2005) summarizes nine essentials of sustainability in order to understand the characteristics of it. Accordingly, "the concept of sustainability is:

  • A challenge to conventional thinking and practice;
  • About long- as well as -short term well-being;
  • Comprehensive, covering all the core issues of decision making;
  • A recognition of link and interdependencies, especially between humans and the biophysical foundations for life
  • Embedded in a world of complexity and surprise, in which precautionary approaches are necessary;
  • A recognition of both inviolable limits and endless opportunities for creative innovation;
  • About an open-ended process, not a state;
  • About intertwined means and ends-culture and governance as well as ecology, society, and economy;
  • Both universal and context dependent" (Gibson et al., 2005; pg. 62).

Sustainability in the Construction Industry

Construction industry is considered to be one of the main actors for achieving sustainable development. In the UK, the construction industry employs around 3 million people equating to about 7 per cent of the working population and contributes some £100 billion (about 10%) to the UK's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Atkinson et al., 2009 and; Office of National Statistics, 2009). The industry has an output of over £91 billion from UK projects (Office of National Statistics, 2009); in addition to this, £10 billion per annum is contributed from export earnings particularly from the activities of constructors, engineers and architects and £3.8 billion per annum from the design sector which generates export income through its high-profile projects worldwide such as Madrid's Barajas Airport, Clarke Quay in Sinagpore, the Marbach Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Germany, Beijing National Stadium, China and many others (Atkinson et al., 2009).

Although the industry looks ever so big and healthy, it is plagued with a number of problems which are illustrated by several government reports including the Latham (1994) and Egan (1998) and more recently 'Skills for Construction' (Egan, 2004) report. Latham (1994) focused on the inefficiency of the construction industry and called for greater partnering and collaboration and Egan (1998) identified the following five key drivers of change which need to set the agenda for the construction industry at large (Kagioglou et al., 2000) :

  1. Committed leadership;
  2. Focus on the client;
  3. Integrated processes and teams;
  4. Quality driven agenda;
  5. Commitment to people.

Unfortunately, the issues raised are still a big concern for the industry and most of them have not disappeared or solved in the last few decades (Egan, 2004). Data from various resources show that buildings are responsible for 45 per cent to the UK's carbon emissions (Atkinson et al., 2008) while construction materials contribute for another 10 per cent (Office of National Statistics, 2009).

Sustainable design must be forced across the barriers of construction cost, programme time and risk by someone with a passion for sustainability. Peers must give full value to the sustainability contribution of design managers. (Mills and Glass, 2009).

"No building, infrastructure, public space or place can be considered genuinely well designed, or sustainable, if it does not contribute to the triple bottom line of environmental, social and economic sustainability." BIS(

UK construction activity also has a major part to play in the achievement of the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy. Increasingly departments will need to demonstrate how their construction activity is addressing social and environmental concerns and encourage their suppliers to help the Government achieve its aims and targets for sustainable development, for example, in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. OGC IMPROVING PUBLIC SERVICES THROUGH BETTER CONSTRUCTION

These framework components, broad contextual influences and case specific factors establish the effective decision criteria. They determine what objectives to be favoured, which options are considered and preferred, what effects are judged desirable, acceptable or intolerable. The criteria may be unstated and unclear; they may be hopelessly muddled and contradictory. But there will always be decision criteria of some sort. For sustainability assessment purposes, the question is not whether there should be decision criteria, but which ones should be used, how they should be selected, whether and when they should be set out explicitly. pg89 Gibson

For sustainability assessment, which needs a basic set of broadly applicable criteria for a host of choices and evaluations, there is a better alternative to criteria organized under the pillars (social, economical, environmental). This approach rejects the established categories of mandate and expertise and instead focuses directly on the key changes needed in human arrangements and activities if we are to move towards long-term viability and well-being. (Gibson et al., 2005, pg: 95)

Indicators to Sustainability

"Indicators to sustainability help to breakdown the sustainable development concepts to give it a clearer definition and hence make it more comprehensible. Simply put sustainability indicators is something that helps us to understand where we are, which way we are going, and how far we are from where we want to be (Gilmour, 2009 adNT)"

The UK Strategy for Sustainable Development (DEFRA, 2005) identified four shared priorities across the UK. They are Sustainable Consumption and Production; Climate Change and Energy; Natural Resource Protection and Environmental Enhancement, and Sustainable Communities.

  • 19 Keys to sustainability.
  • Indeed, it has been argued that "growth in the use of sustainability indicators is nothing short of phenomenal" (Morel-Journel et al., 2003: 617; Rydin et al., 2003: 582). A "sustainability indicators explosion" has been extended across the planet-and on the back of processes of globalization-from neighborhoods to international policy-making and development initiatives, and from local 'social' entrepreneurialism to multinational corporate 'social responsibility' initiatives. Indeed, one of the most widely-used indicators frameworks, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), sees "reducing report proliferation" as a major issue (2006).SUE MOT CONFERENCE Pg.850

Levett-therivel Sustainability Consultants (2004) "Sustainable Urban Environments - Metrics, Models and Toolkits: Analysis of sustainability/social tools". 9 June 2004, Oxford, UK. Report to the SUE-MoT Consortium.



Sustainability assessment has emerged after the publication of Brundtland Report (Jacobs and Sadler, 1988) in response to the need for ways of assessing sustainable development (Devuyst et al., 2001). Assessment, as a generic process, is concerned with measuring and evaluating the qualities of an object or interest (Weaver and Rotmans, 2006). Cole (2005) describes sustainability assessment as the task of measuring how well or poorly a building is performing, or likely to perform, against a declared set of criteria.

According to Adinyira et al., (2007, pg.2) "the term 'Sustainability Assessment' is used in both literature and practice in two very different contexts. Firstly, it is used in the context of checking if a community or organization is progressing towards sustainability. Here, it serves as an auditing or performance testing system. In the second context, it serves more as impact assessment processes in that it attempts to assess the sustainability of proposed projects, plans, policies or legislation before they are implemented". Put in an other words, the timing of the assessment process depends on the purpose of the assessment, for example: ex-post assessment; retrospective evaluation of already built environment; ex-ante assessment, prospective evaluation of proposed project; and concomitant (in process) assessment, providing information on impacts as they arise (Weaver and Rotmans, 2006). For the purposes of this study ex-ante and concomitant assessment methods will be attempted.

The significance of sustainability assessment in aiding the delivery of sustainable building projects has been reported in vast number of research papers and case studies from the industry (Devuyst et al., 2001; Cole, 2005; Kaatz et al., 2006; Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006; Shelbourn et al., 2006; Lord et al., 2009 and; Thomson et al., 2009). In sustainable design and construction process, the role of sustainability assessment is primarily concerned with four objectives, which include the following:

  • To assess the project's environmental, social and economical impact;
  • To aid decision making process;
  • To communicate the sustainability of the project with varied participants and stakeholders involved in the project;
  • To provide information for optimization and improvement of various elements of the project or the building.

Cole (2005) sees the sustainability assessment as being increasingly used in construction projects to provide tangible information, structure and focus for design teams. In fact, sustainability assessment methods do not only measure the performance of buildings, they also influence the physical design and functions of the buildings (Cole, 2005). They are used to compare different solutions, identify key issues related to design and hence optimize the design during early phases of the project (Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006). Moreover, they can be used to identify the potential drawbacks and benefits of certain design functions (Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006), hence it can be used as a decision support tool to plan, process and approve design elements of a building.

In contrast with the above findings, the literature reviewed has also identified numerous issues related to limitations of sustainable assessment methods. As the range of environmental considerations are covered within responsibilities of wide range of professionals, the building sustainability assessment needs to accommodate for participation of various stakeholders (including design managers in the design team) in order for them to be actively involved in the production of appropriate, sustainable solutions (Cole and Pearl, 2007 and; Thomson et al., 2009). For example- as already mentioned above, for the building sustainability assessment to be effective, it needs to be integrated to the building process from the early stages of the project (Cole, 2005; Kaatz et al., 2006; Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006 and; Shelbourn et al., 2006). However, literature review findings show that they are generally implemented after design/planning and/or construction stage (Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006). An integrated approach to sustainability assessment is required right from the appraisal to construction stages of the project (Kaatz et al., 2006 and; Shelbourn et al., 2006). In other words, separation of sustainability assessment from design, planning, construction and decision making process will not be effective unless it is dynamically integrated with the building project life cycle (Kaatz et al., 2006). Several studies from the literature reviewed point to lack of understanding of the sustainability assessment among practitioners (Thomson et al., 2009), and stakeholders, due to its ill-defined nature. Kaatz et al., (2006) highlights that there is a need for a better understanding of the role that building sustainability assessment plays in life cycle stages of the project.

It appears in the literature reviewed that there is a need to use the building sustainability tools to serve the needs of different expectations and viewpoints of a larger and broader group of stakeholders (Kaatz et al., 2006 and; Cole and Pearl, 2007). In fact, there is a general consensus among researchers that assessment tools which solely focus on environmental considerations will not meet the requirements of sustainable development (Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006). However, Kaatz et al., (2006) argue that assessment of all the varied considerations, which includes equitable, social costs and benefits attributable to a building, appears to be impossible with the current state of technical knowledge and practice. Nevertheless, an integrated method/approach/tool, which brings together many methods, tools, procedures, codes, regulations, standards and stakeholders, is suggested to improve their scope of coverage (Gibson et al., 2005; Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006 and; Thomson et al., 2009).

According to Cole, (2005) many of the existing assessment methods are also used as design tools to aid the generation of an optimized design. This is considered to raise a number of potential problems including; limiting the creativity in the design process and exploration and innovation of new building practices; client's ordering designers to achieve a high performance score buildings using specific assessment methods and; different interpretations of design requirements by design teams, for example cost vs. effectiveness (Cole, 2005).

Sustainability Assessment Methodologies

Literature review findings show that the sustainability assessment methodologies are as equally baffling as the sustainable development definitions. Therefore, it is once again important to clarify the terminology used in this section. It appears from the literature reviewed that, the terms 'green building assessment' and 'sustainable building assessment' are used interchangeably within the context. However, there are fundamental differences between the two assessment methods (Kaatz et al., 2006). According to Kaatz et al., (2006), the green building assessment methods are primarily concerned with measuring a building's environmental performance in relation to typical practice or requirements, whereas the sustainable building assessment seeks to address a broad range of environmental, social and economic building-related issues as well as considering the processes within the building projects (Kaatz et al., 2006; Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006).

In addition to this, the terms 'sustainability assessment tool' and 'sustainability assessment methodology' are also used interchangeably within the building sustainability assessment techniques. According to Cole (2005), a 'sustainability assessment tool' is a technique or a tool that predicts, calculates or estimates one or more environmental characteristics of a building, and a 'sustainability assessment method' is a technique that uses a framework of environmental performance criteria to assess and issue a performance rating or label. Sustainable building assessment tools are generally stand-alone programs which are developed by third-party vendors, whereas building sustainability assessment methods are managed by and operate within known organisational contexts (Cole, 2005).

Methodologies for sustainable assessment range from the assessment of a single indicator within a given context to integrated assessment of a wide range of indicators covering many facets of sustainable development. An extensive literature review, workshops and questionnaire survey on sustainability by SuE-MoT (2009) consortium has identified 900 urban sustainable development assessment tools, while Walton et al., (2005) and El-Haram et al., (2006) has identified 650 environmental, social and economical sustainability issues associated with life-cycle of buildings. The background information on three distinctive assessment methodologies which currently dominate the literature, are outlined below:

Environmental Impact Assessment:

According to Lawrence (1997) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is primarily concerned with the impacts of human activities on human and natural environment. It is a method which is used to evaluate 'green' performance of buildings by assessing its performance using benchmarks, checklists, matrices or set of pre-determined criteria (Cole, 2005). Environmental impact assessment is the dominant method which currently surrounds the building sustainability assessment methods however it is not holistic in terms of coverage of the three dimensions of sustainability (BRE, 2004).

Life-Cycle Impact Assessment:

Building Life-Cycle Impact Assessment (LCA) is used to identify environmental impact of buildings in different life-cycle stages (from cradle-to-grave) of the building. In comparison with the EIA, LCA methods are more comprehensive (Adinyira et al., 2009), however, it is not holistic in its approach, i.e. limited in their coverage of all the three sustainability dimensions: social and economic and environmental (BRE, 2004). LCA is supposedly used throughout lifetime of a building; however, BRE (2004) states that they are generally used during the design stage by advisors, developers and architects to assist them in design decisions such as environmental choices of materials, designs or build systems.

Integrated Assessment:

During the last decade Integrated Assessment (IA) has emerged as a new field because traditional reductionist approaches to complex problems was not comprehensive enough to provide total solutions (Rotmans, 1996). IA approach is an attempt to bring together various knowledge domains in order to create a participatory process to combine, interpret and communicate knowledge from a diversity of backgrounds (Rotmans, 1996). According to Rotmans (1998) there are two methods in IA, the computer simulation models, which focus on quantitative analysis and; participatory methods, which is the involvement of participants who are from varied backgrounds, such as focus groups. There are many diverse activities still ongoing within this broad field (Methods and Tools for Integrated Sustainability Assessment- MATISSE Project; Sustainable Urban Environment, Metrics, Models and Toolkits- SUE-MoT Work Package 1 and; European Forum on Integrated Environmental Assessment, are a few to name) so it is still not fully developed which limits its uptake in the construction industry.

However, as reported by Rotmans (2006) more than 90 per cent of these tools have never been used by clients or users. Majority of the existing tools and methods are developed by academics and research establishments which do not, to some effect, reflect the decision-maker's information demand. The limited uptake at project level has been studied by Khandokar et al., (2009) who reasoned several interrelated barriers to adoption at strategic level including barriers associated with technology, people and resources. However, this is now changing due to legislative, standards, business cases etc etc etc...

Complexity in relation to construction and design the journal on AEDM journal...

Typical assessment tools are not well integrated into the design and decision making process because they cannot be easily applied during design phase. Normally it is carried out by external specialists at the end of design, which is time consuming (Lützkendorf and Lorenz, 2006)

Lützkendorf and Lorenz, (2006) predict that there will be a differentiation among tools in the medium-term. The tools used design stage after completed designs or building and tools that aid the generation of design during design process will be staged with the influence of competition among different professional guilds such as assessment and rating experts vs. architects etc.

Decision support tools

BREAM- BRE Environmental Assessment Method

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the first and most used environmental assessment method in the UK (BRE, 2010). Working closely with the UK Government, the BREEAM has been regularly updated since it was first launched in 1990 to ensure that it reflects current regulations, standards and industry practices (Atkinson et al., 2006).

The BREEAM assessment method measures a buildings environmental performance in ten categories: management; health and wellbeing; energy; transport; water; materials and waste; land use and ecology and; pollution (Atkinson et al., 2006). In brief, buildings are rewarded points in relation to its performance in those categories and points are added together to award either Pass, Good, Very Good, Outstanding or Excellent rating.

Design team

Green guide and green print

BREEAM is aimed for four stakeholder groups to meet their needs in green building assessment (1) Clients, planners development agencies, funders and developers, 2) Property agents; 3) Design Teams and; 4) Managers) (BRE, 2010). Particularly, it can be used by design teams to improve design performance of the buildings. There are several versions of BREEAM to measure the performance of different types of building including BREAM assessment for: Courts; Higher Education; Industrial; International; Healthcare; Multi-residential; Offices; Prisons; Retail and; School buildings.

There are a number of standards and tools integrated with the process to cover all stages of the process environmental' sustainability, the framework is de® cient since it only assesses performance against relative, rather than absolute, criteria. As a result, there is no guarantee that buildings which score highly against the framework are making a substantive contribution to increased `environmental' sustainability at a global scale. To do so, both Rees and Kohler maintained, the environmental impact of such buildings must be reduced signi® cantly, perhaps by a factor of ten, in order to counteract population growth and increased industrialisation expected during their lifetime.

Which focus for building assessment methods - environmental performance or sustainability?

According to methods exist to asses building sustainability

The BREEAM environmental assessment tool provides a qualitative view based on the subjective opinions of experienced assessors. A readily accessible simulation tool that offers a variety of assessment options to the designer would be far more effective, especially if there is a potential for an optimum solution based on the current state of knowledge.

They provide minimal guidance on design and construction processes to help project teams achieve these standards. (magent et al, 2009)

There are no approaches to sustainability assessment that are free from pre-conceived values on the part of those undertaking the assessment (Hurley et al, 2009) However, there are no objective ways of assessing sustainability

DQI- Design Quality Indicator


Several emerging issues are drawn out from literature... design professionals must now understand performance issues beyond their immediate responsibilities Sir Michael Latham, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got" (Wilkinson, 2005, pg: 187).

Sustainable assessment methodologies for complex design processes are largely undefined and created per-project (Magent et al., 2009).

Few methods exist to evaluate the sustainable building design process, despite calls for more process oriented sustainable building assessment (magent et al, 2009)

Design process for sustainable buildings remains mostly undefined and is reinvented on each new project.(magent et al, 2009) Much of the literature reviewed concludes that design processes for sustainable buildings is defined for each new project differently and generally an integrated approach is adopted to increase the design quality and reduce the design process waste (Magent et al., 2009). Amount of stakeholders involved in the project makes it extremely difficult to establish a clear approach to sustainability, and its assessment.