Volume 4, Issue 7 (July 2007)
Sustainability in Building Construction—International Standards in Progress
The development of ISO 15392 on general principles of sustainability in building construction took more time than expected. The most significant reason for this was the need to identify a common basis for the conceptual content of the document. With this basis now being identified, the work has taken up momentum and the general principles document presents principles to be considered when addressing the thematic field of sustainable development in relation to building and civil engineering. A key problem to be tackled in international standardization is finding the balance between the necessary level of detail to actually provide something to the user of the standard, and at the same time not to be too specific in order to allow different nations and their specific perspectives to still agree to the standard. While the challenge of sustainable development is global, the strategies for addressing sustainability in building construction are local and differ in context and content from region to region. Such strategies will reflect the context not only in the building environment, but also very much the social environment. This social environment includes cultural issues, legislation and regulation, as well as the needs and concerns of all the users and interested parties involved. Applying the concept of sustainability to specific buildings or other construction works includes a holistic approach, bringing together the global concerns and goals of sustainable development and the demands and requirements in terms of product functionality, efficiency, and economy. Different target audiences will have a different perspective on these challenges and the preferred solutions. The standards must hence put the topic onto a common playing field, still allowing different perspectives to be applied and priorities to be set, as well as recognizing that many aspects of sustainable development lie without the possible content of international technical standardization. ISO 15392 is related to and set into the context of other international standards and widely applied concepts, such as the performance-based building concept and the ISO 15686 series. This paper illustrates the set of related international standards and discusses the modular application. We want to discuss key factors needing consideration in order to bring the set of standards to successful application.