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This dissertation proposal will form part of the final dissertation and the aim of the proposal is to identify a chosen topic area together with the reasoning behind it. A literature review of the relevant text that is available on my given topic is produced, giving a critical review of the information. The proposal will also contain a research statement outlining ideas and discuss the relevant methods and methodologies for the research. This proposal will conclude with a prediction and rationale for the dissertation.
This has put a huge pressure on the construction industry with the introduction of new legislation such as the Code for Sustainable Homes, the new building regulations and the Energy Performance Building Directive. The construction industry is required to make significant changes to the way they build in a bid to assist the government in reaching these targets. This has a particular impact on the construction of new homes in the United Kingdom. In Wales the government have agreed an ultimate objective of zero carbon homes by 2013, three years ahead of England. To achieve this goal the design of homes is required to incorporate new energy saving technology and create a new way of living.
This book is produced by BRE (Building Research Establishment Ltd). When the code was released in 2006 BRE invited four construction firms to build a code compliant home. The book follows their progress and looks at all four buildings throughout the construction period. It moves on to discuss the lessons learnt from the experience and the new challenges that the code has brought to the United Kingdom construction industry. It has been produced to assist other developers and house builders in building a code compliant home. It looks in detail at the issues around building fabric, energy, water consumption and materials sourcing. This book should give a good idea as to how the construction industry is coping with the new legislation that is released for new homes.
3.3 Project Management in Construction by Anthony Walker (2007)
This book looks at the basic principles of project management and running projects from organisation and procurement to the construction process. It is written by a member of RICS and the new editions discuss the new complex issues that the construction industry faces, and the development surrounding supply chain management. It looks at the topic of sustainability and how the impact is managed for the client and on site. This book should help me to look at sustainability from another angle and discuss the impacts on site as well as the cost issues.
This book discusses the issues of environmental impact on our built environment, from construction to operation and final demolition. It looks at how the designers, clients and project managers can create healthy buildings by minimising the waste and pollution currently used in the construction of buildings. The overall aim is to give an understanding in how to create sustainable buildings, giving technical guidance and reviewing case study information to highlight experiences of new technologies. It looks at sustainable construction from start to finish and covers cost, building specification and the delivery process. The Author has a real passion for improving the built environment and hopes to promote this through construction ecology.
3.5 Simply Sustainable Homes by Tim Pullen (2008)
This book explains the technologies required to build a sustainable home. It gives clear and authoritative explanations of how to achieve sustainable living. It discusses new United Kingdom legislation such as Code for Sustainable homes, SAP calculations and Building Regulations part C, F and L. It is a complete home owner guide to creating a sustainable home, covering issues such as design, renewable energies and water management. The book is produced by the publishers of the House Builder's Bible and is aimed at helping people to achieve a low energy home.
3.6 Green Building & Remodelling by Eric Corey Freed (2008)
Part of a famous series of books, 'Books for Dummies' they provide explanations in plain English about numerous subjects. This book identifies green materials, and the need for a green professional team working within a budget and using sustainable systems. It discusses the overall need for sustainability, and weighs up the pro and cons for the industry about new green technology and building solutions. It also includes an in depth discussion about energy systems and ways to save energy consumptions.
3.7 The Green Building Bible and Green Building Magazine (2009)
Green Building Press Company supply sustainable construction information through published products and their website. The Green Building magazine is a released quarterly and includes information about sustainable healthy building design together with current case studies and research projects. The Green Building Bible contains a step by step guide to building a sustainable, low carbon building. Volume 1 gives the essential information about new technology, materials and methods while Volume 2 gives a guide to technical information and strategies to create a low energy building. The website has useful information about product and suppliers together with the latest sustainable news headlines. These products are designed in a user friendly way making them useful to both home owners and professionals.
3.8 Pinpoint: Key Facts & Figures for Sustainable buildings by Bruno Keller (2009)
This book is due for release in January 2010. It is designed for professional practitioners. The book is designed as a manual to represent all the essential information required for constructing a sustainable building, extracting useful information from all the various sustainable publication and documents. It includes step by step instruction and illustrations while discussing methods and technologies required in achieving a sustainable building. This books looks like it will be very useful. A lot has changed over the past two years regarding sustainability and this book should highlight important facts.
4.0 Development of Research Questions
The "Code for Sustainable Homes" document has redefined the standards to which we currently design and build homes in the United Kingdom. This is in connection with the governments' agenda to reduce carbon emissions. The carbon footprint for new homes in the United Kingdom needs to be reduced. To do this we need to make homes more energy efficient. Until recently, house design and construction had been in a very stable state with regard to the technical aspects. There had been limited incremental changes over the past few decades through amendments to the building regulations. The United Kingdom is now facing a major technical change to the way we construct in a very short space of time. These changes will certainly have an impact on the construction industry through construction methods and new technology, the construction professional, the cost to the industry, and the effect on people.
Construction Methods and New Technology
With the Welsh Government setting an agenda to achieve carbon zero for all new homes by 2013, the construction industry will need to make dramatic changes to reach this target. The biggest change will be the method of construction. At present the current standard are adaptable but as the level of compliance to the Code for Sustainable Homes ramps up, the build methods will need to modify to suit. When using a fabric first approach to achieve sustainability the current building methods can be used with an improvement to the thermal performance and the reduction of air leakage. This approach means we can achieve a good level of sustainability without getting too concerned with new energy technology. As the level of compliance to the Code of Sustainable Homes progresses there will be a need to look at imported construction strategies and new innovative, emerging technologies to reach the required level of energy saving. These changes in house building strategies create a major risk to the housing market and many developers are concerned about the impact to their business. If the United Kingdom wants to comply with the Code for Sustainable Homes new technology will be required, from construction materials to heating, hot water and electrical energy. These technologies have been in use in Europe for many years but that will not make the transition to the United Kingdom simple.
The Construction Professionals
As these changes to the construction industry start emerging there will be an impact on the construction professional. The increased requirement for reducing the carbon footprint of new houses has coincided with a major downturn in the housing sector. With the construction industry hit the hardest during the recession in the United Kingdom, architects, engineers, project and cost managers have all been suffering. As the industry struggles to get back on its feet, one of the first things they must contend with is working in an unknown environment with new legislation and conforming to this in an incredibility short time scale. Has the United Kingdom market got the ability to deliver what is required to reach the Government's proposed targets? Many professional are going to be faced with a steep learning curve and additional training to ensure they are prepared and understand the new legislation. With little sustainable experience to fall back on, the United Kingdom will be looking to Europe to guide them through this process and that places high risk on the construction professional in charge.
The Cost to the Industry
With a need for new technologies and building methods and the requirement to reach Code for Sustainable Homes means that construction costs are inevitably going to rise. These costs will reflect the fact that many of the products are new to the market and the supply chain has not been well established. The real cost of the Code for Sustainable Homes can only be an estimated due to the fact there is limited historical information. The other problem will be achieving decent competitive tenders on construction packages based on innovative construction, as there will be a natural tendency to provide contingency cover within these costs.
The Government has spent so long working on how we should construct a sustainable home and very little time working out the impact of the cost difference. How are we going to pay for all the work required within the United Kingdom on the new and existing building stock?
The Effect on People
Whilst most of our worries are about how to build sustainable homes, and how to comply with the new legislation, it needs to be considered how these changes will affect how we live. Making dramatic changes to how our homes are run will have a knock on effect on how people live. New home buyers will require guidance on how to operate these homes. To make a sustainable home run efficiently people will need to understand the technology. Together with this people will need to be open to change, and these new homes will require certain changes to our current living behaviours. There will be certain generation that may be against change. The United Kingdom has never made such a huge change in their housing standards and it could come as a shock. People may not be willing to change the way they live and the Government will need to think of ways to tackle this issue. Getting the United Kingdom to think sustainably is the Governments biggest challenge of all.
How will the code for sustainable homes change the construction industry and how will it affect how we live?
5.1 Methods & Methodology
This section identifies the research methods and methodologies that are relevant to the topic and the built environment. It will discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and create a research plan identifying appropriate research tools to ensure the research has adequate validity.
Research is a process of investigation and enquiry. It is used to answer questions by gaining new knowledge about a certain subject using a variety of materials and sources to attain a new conclusion. There are a number of ways to carry out research and they fall into two types, quantitative and qualitative research.
As stated by Bryman & Bell (2007), "quantitative research in broad terms, it was described as entailing the collection of numerical date and as exhibiting a view of the relationship between theory and research deductive, a predilection for a natural science approach and as having an objectivist conception of social reality". There is a linear process for quantitative research as stated in Bryman & Bell (2007,) "the fact that we start off with theory signifies that a broadly deductive approach to the relationship between theory and research is taken. It is common for outlines of the main steps of quantitative research to suggest that a hypothesis is deduced from the theory and is tested. However, a great deal of quantitative research does not entail the specification of a hypothesis".
"Qualitative Research differs from quantitative research in several ways. Most obviously, qualitative research tends to be concerned with words rather than numbers. Three further features include, an inductive view of the relationship between theory and research, the understanding of the social world through examination of the interpretation of that world by its participants, and social properties are outcomes of the interaction between individuals" (Bryman & Bell, 2007). It is stated more simply by Dawson (2007), "this method of research explores attitudes, behaviour and experience through methods such as interviews or focus groups".
Bryman & Bell (2007) outline some of the more common contrasts between quantitative and qualitative research as shown in table A below:
Point of view of researcher
Points of view of participants
Hard, reliable data
Rich, deep data
Table A: Source: Bryman & Bell (2007).
Amaratunga et al. (2002) state that both methods have their strengths and weaknesses (see table B), and these should be taken into consideration while preparing the research plan. The type of research will be relevant to the outcome required.
They can provide wide coverage of the range of situations
The methods used tend to be rather inflexible and artificial
They can fast and economical
They are not very effective in understanding process or the significance that people attach to actions
Where statistics are aggregated from large samples, they make be off considerable relevance to policy decisions
They are not very helpful in generating theories
Because they focus on what is, or what has been recently, they make it hard for policy makers to infer what changes and what actions should take place in future
Data-gathering methods seen more as natural than artificial
Data collection can be tedious and require more resources
Ability to look at change processes over time
Analysis and interpretation of data may be more difficult
Ability to understand peoples meaning
Harder to control the pace, progress and end-points of research process
Ability to adjust to new issues and ideas as they emerge
Policy makers may give low credibility to results from qualitative approach
Contribute to theory generation
Table B: Source: Amaratunga et al. (2002).
Both types of research methods, quantitative and qualitative, are required in order to gather sufficient information. The research is combined using a triangulation post analysis stage. As Amaratunga et al. (2002) state "the critical aspect in justifying a mixed methodology research design in Built Environment is that both single methodology approaches have strength and weakness. The combination of methodologies, on the other hand, can focus on their relevant strengths".
5.2 Research tools
Quantitative and qualitative research is carried out using different research tools. Quantitative research uses tools such as surveys, questionnaires, experiments and investigations relying on statistical information. Qualitative research uses interviews, observations and focus groups to collect information and requires extensive document analysis throughout.
6.1 Question Reasoning
The initial idea began with sustainability and housing and has been narrowed down to cover certain issues within this topic. The proposed question for this research is :
How will the Code for Sustainable Homes change the construction industry and how will it affect how we live?
This is a question currently being asked by many within the construction industry and therefore the result will be of high interest to many professions. This is also a very interesting topic and with knowledge in this area of the construction industry can be a great benefit to my career.
6.2 Prediction - Research Plan
In response to the proposed research statement, there are a number of angles that will need to be covered and therefore it is appropriate to use both quantitative and qualitative methods to carry out the required research. There are three main areas of research regarding construction methods and new technology; these are the construction professional, the cost to the industry, and the effect on people. Quantitative methods proposed include carrying out surveys and analysing the statistics from them. Qualitative methods proposed are interviews, observation, attending professional seminars and document analysis. The result will require a triangulation post analysis to arrive at a final conclusion.
6.3 Anticipated Problems
As the proposed research question is related to a new issue within the construction industry there may be a number of issues relating to the research.
Further to the literature review there appears to be only a limited amount of published information on the chosen field, however there is a plenty of published documentation available.
Ensuring the credibility of the survey will be essential. Careful consideration will be required while choosing the participants.
As the topic area is focused on a new construction issue there will be limited statistics available from the United Kingdom, However the information from Europe can be used as a guide.
It will be important to create a structured interview so that consistent information is received from this research area and the finding must be reported in a non-basis way.
Bryman, A. & Bell, E., 2007. Business Research Methods. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dawson, C., 2007. A Practical Guide to Research Methods. 2nd ed. Oxford: How to Books Ltd.
Amaratunga, D. et al., 2002. Quantitative and Qualitative Research in the Built Environment: Application of 'Mixed' Research Approach. Emerald.