ASTM E2432 - 11

    Standard Guide for General Principles of Sustainability Relative to Buildings

    Active Standard ASTM E2432 | Developed by Subcommittee: E60.01

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.12


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    Significance and Use

    Every building and building product has environmental, economic, and social impacts. These impacts occur at all life-cycle stages in multiple ways and on local, regional, and global scales. It is imperative to understand the nature of these impacts and their relationship to the general principles of sustainability in order to address the opportunities and challenges they present in buildings.

    Buildings impact the environment. In order to advance sustainability, it is necessary to identify environmental impacts, mitigate negative environmental impacts, and promote positive environmental impacts.

    Buildings have economic impacts. In order to advance sustainability, it is necessary to quantify and optimize life-cycle costs/benefits and external costs/benefits to the greatest extent possible.

    Buildings impact society. In order to advance sustainability, it is necessary to identify the health, safety, and welfare impacts, and to contribute to a positive quality of life for current and future generations.

    The general principles of sustainabilityenvironmental, economic, and socialare interrelated. Decisions founded on the opportunities and challenges of any of the principles will have impacts relative to all of the principles. However, to facilitate clarity in the presentation of the general principles of sustainability relative to buildings, they are discussed individually in Section 5.

    Sustainability is an ideal. The practical application of the general principles of sustainability relies upon balancing environmental, economic, and social impacts and committing to continual improvement to approach this ideal. Section 6 discusses this balancing of environmental, economic, and social impacts in pursuit of sustainability.

    The marketplace is evolving as technology, economics, and society become globalized. The range of topics and approaches to standards development has evolved in tandem with the changes in the marketplace. This guide addresses one of the primary issues of todays global marketplacesustainability. It provides an overview of sustainability, as it is applicable to buildings. It provides general guidance but does not prescribe a specific course of action.

    This guide is intended to inform professionals associated with the building industry, including specifiers, planners, developers, architects, landscapers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, owners, facility managers, financial organizations related to the building industry, product manufacturers, and government agencies including building officials, and other building professionals.

    The general principles identified in this guide are intended to assist users in making decisions that advance sustainability.

    The general principles identified in this guide are intended to inform the development and refinement of tools and standards to qualify and quantify impacts of buildings, building materials, and building methods.

    1. Scope

    1.1 Sustainabilty has three types of general principles: environmental, economic, and social. This guide covers the fundamental concepts and associated building characteristics for each of the general principles of sustainability.

    1.2 This guide distinguishes between ideal sustainability and applied sustainability. Ideally, human activities would not require making trade-offs among environmental, economic, and social goals. However, this guide recognizes that, in applying sustainability principles to buildings, decision makers must often balance opportunities and challenges associated with each of the general principles.

    1.3 This guide identifies general methodologies associated with the decision-making process used in pursuing sustainability.

    1.4 This guide addresses buildings individually and in aggregate (collectively).

    1.4.1 The general principles identified in this guide are applicable to all scales of building projects, including: interior spaces, individual buildings and groups of buildings, infrastructure systems, and land use.

    1.4.2 The general principles identified in this guide are applicable to all life-cycle stages of a building and its components, including: material extraction, product manufacturing, product transportation, planning, siting, design, specification, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, retrofit, reuse, deconstruction, and waste disposal of buildings.

    1.5 A variety of tools and standards exist that qualify and quantify impacts of buildings, building materials, and building methods in terms of one or more of the general principles of sustainability. It is not within the scope of this standard to recreate or replace these tools.

    1.6 This guide does not provide direction as to the specific implementation of the general principles; nor does it provide direction as to the specific weighting of principles necessary for achieving balance.

    1.7 Applying the principles in this guide will require professional judgment. Such judgment should be informed by experience with environmental, economic, and social issues as appropriate to the building use, type, scale, and location.

    1.8 This guide offers an organized collection of information or a series of options and does not recommend a specific course of action. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this guide may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a projects many unique aspects. The word Standard in the title of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.

    1.9 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    E631 Terminology of Building Constructions

    E917 Practice for Measuring Life-Cycle Costs of Buildings and Building Systems

    E2114 Terminology for Sustainability Relative to the Performance of Buildings

    ISO Standards

    ISO14040 Life Cycle Assessment


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 91.040.01 (Buildings in general)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code


    DOI: 10.1520/E2432-11

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