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This chapter seeks to offer a body of knowledge relating to the legislative provisions regarding sustainable design and ultimately 'Deconstruction and Reuse' of building materials. For this to be achieved it is necessary to evaluate the current legislation on a national level. This will explore the current strategies being implemented by the government and detailing their value. Section two will look at the relevant international legislation and the current European standards being set in relation to sustainability. Section three will evaluate the current marking schemes for a sustainable dwelling through BREEAM and LEED and detail the value of reusing materials and deconstructing a building from a legislative perspective. Finally concluding remarks will be offered.
The aim of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy is to identify and develop actions that enable the EU to achieve a continuous long-term improvement of quality of life through the creation of sustainable communities which are able to use resources efficiently, able to tap the ecological and social innovation potential of the economy and to ensure prosperity, environmental protection and social cohesion. This strategy highlights key areas that need to be looked at but again it does not specify systems such as deconstruction and reuse of materials. The strategy is ambiguous and open to individual interpretation.
A review was then commissioned in 2009 (Review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy EU SDS). The review suggested that Priority actions should be more clearly specified in future reviews. That governance, including implementation, monitoring and follow-up mechanisms should be reinforced for example through clearer links to the future EU 2020 strategy and other cross-cutting strategies.
6.4 BREEAM and LEED
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are the two most widely recognised environmental assessment methodologies used globally in the construction industry today. It is difficult to compare the two because they have different strengths, weaknesses, philosophies and business models. What is applicable to one may not be relevant to the other.
BREEAM is essentially the British technique for evaluating sustainable buildings and LEED is the American technique. They both use a single rating, certification includes an umbrella of issues which might otherwise be individually dropped or missed.
LEED generally deals in percentage improvements rather than absolute values. This applies to the reuse of materials too. There are a number of additional credits to BREEAM where items such as rapidly renewable materials, local materials and reuse of internal elements are rewarded. Both systems recognise and encourage the reuse materials of the existing structures that previously occupied the house.
This chapter has charted the main National and European legislation which have influenced the documents governing sustainable development. It is astonishing that the only provisions for the encouragement to reuse materials and deconstruct a building are from a planning sense and not a sustainable approach. Sustainable design as previously indicated is a broad and intrinsic topic and in the current, uncertain climate an integration of this essential subject with the existing buildings of Ireland holds the key to the future of the Irish building industry and ultimately the economy.