- seen in the scope of sustainability evaluations, green accounts and environmental management systems
The 5'th Framework Programme, key action 4: "City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage" calls for a number of initiatives within the regime of what we could call "Green Urban Management". Key-notions as 'promotion of sustainable development', 'increasing citizen and stakeholder participation' 'improving the quality of life and social engagement', 'improving range of tools for urban policy', 'instruments and best practices for sustainable city management' etc. are central ideas here.
So what we need in order to give a progressive and contemporary contribution to green urban management from the start of the new millennium is the introduction of a number of tools. These tools are already well known and approved in other sectors of our community and they are categorised within the terms "sustainability evaluations", "environmental management systems" and "green accounts" ("sustainability evaluations" should be understood as introductory "environmental and life-cycle assessments" and the idea is that these sustainability evaluations should be steadily improved towards real life-cycle assessments).
Those three tools - combined with the growing knowledge about indoor climate which implies the selection of healthy (neutral) building materials to minimise the (mainly airborne) chemical load on humans - should be the tool-set of tomorrows green urban management.
The ideas in this paper (far from claiming to be complete) aim at a holistic perspective and mentions items from all categories - from the very big lines down to the detailed advices. This paper includes, beside the more descriptive part, a so-called recommendation list, where sustainable advices and methods are listed in short sentences.
In this connection it is the aim to develop a "European Green Cities Certificate" which can be used in development of new urban areas, where you can be inspired of experiences within use of environmental management in companies.
The difference is, however, that by sustainable urban management it is more a question of political choices. The idea is at the same time to work with practical use of an energy and environmental rating system which makes it possible to make for sustainable management, but individually for the participating cities.
The purpose of green accounting is to describe the local and global environmental effects of the activities in a given enterprise (company, public institution, house, confined urban area etc). The accounting principles are based on the input-output model. The inputs are consumption of fuels, electricity, water, materials etc. The outputs are heat, emissions, solid waste, wastewater etc.
Green accounts have been used for several years, but mainly within companies. Lately there have been some initiatives where a method for green accounting for housing has been launched (Danish Building Research Institute). The more detailed this accounting is made, the more information it gives. As account-unit can be chosen single housing, single blocks or entire urban areas. One kind of choice does not exclude the other. The best and most informative choice is, of course, to perform accounting on all levels. Then the possibility exists to connect all results in one main account, thus having access to different perspectives in the figures.
All end-figures (inputs and outputs) in green accounting for housings are always specified pro capita. This is an important feature that makes them immediately comparable. Some of the positive highlights of green accounting are:
# A green account highlights irregularities; spills and abnormalities can more easily be spotted
# A green account perspectivates numbers and figures for a larger group of people and forms the basis for a markedly improved energy- and ressource management
# Green accounting is a starting point for making decisions about environmental goals and savings
# Green accounting makes it is possible to award a prize to certain groups for proper environmental behaviour
# Green accounting has a positive symbolic effect in relation to the surrounding community
# Green accounting makes it possible to compare individual urban areas, bringing in an element of positive competitive spirit
# Publication of a green account can motivate to better habits and environmental improvements
# The level of information goes significantly up and qualifies to a debate on a higher level with more qualified proposals for future improvements
# To participate in green accounting gives a higher degree of user involvement which in turn can result in private green initiatives
# Social networking is favoured
# A green account can be the basis for Agenda-21 work plans
In reality, the process around green accounting contains many of the most important basics of an environmental management system, and experience show that this way around is a very sensible and rational way of starting an environmental management system.
Environmental Management System - Principles
In order to apply an environmental management system to a confined urban area it is possible to utilise the principles known from the international standard ISO 14001 and the European Union's EMAS-scheme.
The environmental management systems ISO 14001 and EMAS are originally designed to be used as an up-to-date supplement to the existing management system in isolated industrial enterprises.
The main principle in an environmental management system is to formulate a general environmental policy, e.g. for an urban area and to set up some environmentally related targets on basis of that policy combined with the knowledge from an environmental mapping. This environmental mapping can in many cases be equivalent to a green account.
The environmental targets are obtained by elaborating and executing corresponding work plans.
A registration/reporting system handling all relevant data and obtained results should be established. Based on conclusions from these processed results new/revised targets are set up and new work plans are elaborated and executed.
This is, in short, the main principle of a working environmental management system revealing the most essential element, which is the cyclic aspect with constant improvements.
With regard to the following it should be mentioned that the environmental management standards do not require any sort of life cycle assessments (LCA's), but they can be included as an important extension. An equivalent expression for life cycle assessments often used is sustainability evaluations (or assessments). These evaluations can be done on many levels, from the more superficial with only the most closely related environmental impacts (energy- and resource consumption), through the very deep analysis of impacts calculated in different effect categories.
It should be pointed out that it is highly relevant to include sustainability evaluations in green urban management, because we already have lots of highly valuable information on this matter, even though it is far from being on LCA-level, it is still very valuable information. In this connection it is also necessary to work in high principles for how to evaluate the results from the LCA analyses.
It is important to underline the advantage of obtaining some practical working experience with the basics in environmental management before making plans for an eventual certification. This can (as mentioned above) be done by using green accounting together with use of a recently developed energy and environmental rating system. Here you are going to work on involving as many persons as possible in the total organisational spectrum. Practical experience with introduction of an environmental management system in companies show that this approach yields the best working systems and the most transparent systems.
The key word is to keep it simple - especially in the beginning where it is important that users/participators are getting familiar with the new way of thinking and acting.
An environmental management system can be designed in both an unnecessarily complicated way and a very simple, easily understandable and good-working way, and still obtain certification.
The preliminary aim could thus be to apply green accounting and use of the recently developed energy and environmental rating system. And then, step by step expand it to a, start-wise uncertified, later certified environmental management system, coupled with sustainability evaluations. Experience from the business sphere shows that even an uncertified environmental management system can be working very satisfactory and create remarkable results, and that one of the key factors that makes such a system working well is involvement and engagement for the end users and other people involved in the start up and daily work. After a period with working experience, the process involving system description and certification/verification will then be much easier also concerning the involved persons.
An environmental management system could, however, be applicable to other confined units as for example an urban area, which participates in a European Green Urban project.
The overruling task is to establish the main components of an environmental management system in this confined community. This includes by headlines:
# Establishing a responsible steering/management group for the area
# Establishing an environmental policy on which the management can be committed
# Establishing environmental goals and hereof derived work plans
# Establishing practical facilitating group(s)
# Establishing a documentation/reporting system
The implementation should be performed in a way that ensures maximum end user involvement and the design of the regular routines and procedures should be elaborated for this high end user involvement as well. Within the documentation it is e.g. preferable to make electricity, heating and water measuring systems that are easy to use (e.g. with pulse output from the meters). This is necessary to make a qualified green account.
It is important to start an environmental management system in a simple and easily understandable way. Therefore the objectives included in the sphere of this environmental management system should from the beginning be focusing on the most conspicuous issues like those which are the main components of a green account. These are as mentioned above input/output related issues.
Working regimes for the environmental management system
The environmental management system can be applied to an urban area under two different circumstances and, from an environmental point of view, potentially, with different end results.
The difference lies in when the environmental management system is introduced, i.e. before or after the urban area is built on.
If the environmental management system (with sustainability evaluations use of energy and environmental rating system and environmentally friendly design) is introduced in the planning phase for the urban area it is obvious that it is possible to incorporate a lot more environmental conciderations (i.e. by optimising all the irreversible decisions and actions in the project phase) than if the environmental management system is applied on an existing urban area. In connection with application of the environmental management system in the design phase it will at the same time be simple to include principles from "environmentally desirable design".
The main differences between applying the system in the project phase compared to application on an existing area lies, by headlines, in the freedom to:
# Choose the most sustainable (includes recyclable) building materials
# Favour the indoor climate by the use of healthy building materials
# Optimise logistics in the building phase
# Choose the optimal positioning of the buildings with regard to solar exposure
# Design the buildings for optimum active and passive exploitation of solar energy
# Favorise socio-dynamic development via the main urban structural design
The above items are also in focus in environmentally desirable design.
If the starting point is an empty field the structure of the environmental work will not conform to a traditional environmental management system. This is because of the incorporation of sustainability evaluations and because the process starts with a kind of work that has to do with planning and selection of options.
After the planning phase, when the design and construction starts, application of the actual environmental management system can take place. Here there will be two different environmental management systems, one in the construction phase where the environmental organisation will be part of the contractors organisation. It could be a requirement from the building owner to the contractor that they are applying (maybe even certified) environmental management in the course of construction. This environmental management system will be terminated when the construction is completed. When the area is inhabited the permanent environmental management system will subsequently be started, as a start by way of green accounts. This demands that you have incorporated relevant measuring systems in the building projects in question.
The need for sustainability evaluations will hereafter diminish and mainly be called for in retrofit- and maintenance situations, which then, in turn, is a situation similar to an environmental management system applied to an existing urban area.
A recommendation list of measures that can be taken in order to optimise sustainability in the project- and construction phase is the following:
(Compared with the principles i connection with environmentally desirable design).
Near environment - infrastructure
# Stakeholders should be heard in case of new constructions/urbanisations
# Consider the layout/design in relation to existing constructions and infrastructure (public transport, schools, footpaths, bicyclepaths, shops, working places etc.)
# Avoid the vicinity of "smoke, dirt and noise" and grounds polluted with the "sins of the past" (waste deposits, former industrial areas with chemical spills etc.)
# Avoid spots with natural waterducts and high radon emission (include a ventilated cellar if unaviodable)
# Keep distance from high voltage cables both in ground and in air and from bigger broadcasting plants and sub-stations
# Exploit the local topography with respect to shelter from wind and exposition to the sun - create micro-climate by choice of appropriate vegetation
# Check the possibilities for extraction of geothermal energy
# Minimise the formation of social sub-cultures through differentiation of those aspects of the buildings and main layout which have selective social appeals and that will sort people in age groups
# Mix housings, shops, "lighter" working places, leisure activities etc.
# Aim at multifunctionality of the near environment: Quiet zones, playzones, footpaths, bicyclepaths, green zones, bus stops etc.
# Make it possible at least for some dwellings to have outdoor privacy
# Avoid types of pavement which require sewageing of rain water
# Design roadings in a way that minimises the paved areas
# Include AC-outlets for the recharging of electric vehicles
# Include safe and good bicycle parking facilities
# Avoid obstruction of ground water streams
# Intubed creeks should be laid free again
# Rainwater should soak naturally - minimise the amount led to sewage systems
# Construction waste left in the ground should only be of the inert type, like bricks, glass, untreated wood etc.
# Establish rainwater collection with a separate tubing system
# Consider the possibility of installing compost-toilets
# Avoid air scrubbers (bacterial nests)
Specifically solar related
# Design the house for optimum utilisation of daylight and passive solar energy
# Architectural design suitable for active use of solar energy
# Include integrated outdoor sun blinds where the passive solar energy is designed to be let in
# Maximise amount of daylight by positioning windows as high as possible
# Ensure that daylight can enter hallways and stairwells
# Use energy efficient glass in all heated spaces
# Glaze galleries, loggias and balconies
Generally energy related
# Do not place an open staircase in the living room
# Include enclosed porches where appropriate
# Attach unheated buildings as for example a garage
# Insulate hot water pipes
# By mechanical ventilation: Have currently revisions of the required flow rate in order to minimise it to the actual application
# Avoid heat-bridges (potentially mould-nests)
# Install fast responding thermostat- (in- and outdoor) and heating systems, so that benefit from sudden sun periods can be optimised and overheating (waste of energy) can be avoided
# Install heating systems with mainly horisontal heat emission
# Limit the number of DHW-taps and place them centrally with short , low diameter, well insulated tubings
# Avoid deep rooms (which require a high amount of artificial light)
# Apply light colours
# Apply weak basic lighting supplied by separate individually adapted lightings
# Apply movement-activated switches where appropriate
# Make critical revisions on the size of a given air-con equipment - is it at all necessary?
# Consider alternative cooling possibilities as ground-, sea-, lake- and river water.
# Make deals with local bio-gas producers
# Aim at simple and easily understandable operation of energy- and ventilation plants
# Allow easily accessible and understandable read-/printout of consumption statistics
# On-stream-optimising of heating and ventilation should always be done by a skilled person and careful making over to the users should be done
# Position installations and stairwell within a 'noise core'
# Minimise weather impact by using bigger roof overhang
# Design the house, especially the toilet/bathrooms so that it can easily be adapted for disabled people
# Include covered clothes-yard in or near dwelling
# Minimise the need for paintwork and maintenance in general
# Differentiate protection of woodwork according to the degree of weather exposure
# Avoid sunken pipes and similar that makes repairwork difficult
# Use prefabricated products, preferably with an environmental certificate
# Use standard sizes
# Aim at zero net soil transport
# Limit the amount of paved area
# Include existing vegetation in the out-door design and protect it during construction
# Provide space for recycling activities in the urban plan
# Kitchen and decentral garbage containers should be close to each other
# Include facilities for compostable waste disposal in the kitchen
# Use only sustainable produced wood
# Use detailing that needs only a minimum of sealing
# Provide a hot water connection for the washing machine and dishwasher
# Cold water pipes should be kept cold
# Use seawater as coolant for air conditioning
# Separate site generated waste in as many fractions as can be disposed of
# Differentiate between the necessities and the desirable
# Choose materials and construction principles which makes re-buildings simpler
# Make airtight constructions in combination with self-driven or mechanical ventilation
# Make star-formation rather than ring-formation in electric wirings
# Keep distance to fields from water- and gas tubings
# Install main switches for rest- and sleeping rooms
# For gas, water and district heating insert a non-metallic connector between the main distribution network and the house circuit
# Make shielding of electric wirings and connector-boxes and secure a correct one-sided grounding
# Favor recyclable building materials as tile, concrete, natural stone, tree, steel, aluminum, glass etc.
# Use locally produced wood
# Use self preserving wood types
# Do not use products containing CFC's or HCFC's
# Use 20% gravel replacement in form of crushed concrete where possible
# Avoid the use of PVC, but If using PVC, make sure that the type of PVC in question is recycled or guaranteed recyclable
# Use only preserved wood where strictly needed
# Use PE tape or EPDM rubber for sealing of joints
# Use EPDM or EPT rubber for sealing of cracks
# Use silicone or polysulphide compound as elastic sealant
# Use water-based acrylate compound as elastic-plastic sealant
# For hard floor coverings use polyoleofine material
# Establish a users manual for each housing unit with description of the materials used with optimum maintenance methods and relevant supplier information, operation of technical installations etc.
# Prefer local contractors
# Prefer long lasting building materials and lowest possible CO2 - contribution
# As far as it is possible, future alterations should be prepared in the design if the demands for the utilisation of the building should change in the future
# All joints should be performed in preparation for possible future repair work or reuse
# Minimise the diversification in the choice of materials; prefer materials/components, which have a documented lower environmental impact than parallel products. Avoid as far as possible plastics and the like
# For surfaces that require cleaning choose materials/coatings which do not require harsh cleaning agents/chemicals
BAT - related
# Install separate meters to show energy consumption for heating and hot water
# Use boiler types with low NOx emission
# Install a solar water heating system
# Use plastic (PE) water pipes inside the home
# Install individual water meters
# The washing machine and dishwasher should be of the water saving type
# Use water saving toilets with differentiated flush
# Use flow restrictors in the water tabs
# Design radiators for low temperature district heating
# Use heat recovery of ventilation air with minimum 80% efficiency and thermo/electric relation better than 1:8
# Install only low-energy white goods
# Use gas fired tumblers or condensing tumblers, but only when clothesyard is inaccessible
If we are going to apply green urban management in the future, the conclusion must be that we have to combine tools as green accounting, environmental management systems, sustainability evaluations and selection of healthy building materials.
The selection of which building materials are healthy involves the determination of the materials that behave neutrally, i.e.: are sufficiently free of irritating or harmful emissions and therefore not are affecting the indoor climate adversely, requires a lot of testing and R&D-work. This has to be done in order to complete the picture, and similar to sustainability evaluations (life-cycle assessments) this area is only in the early stages of its development.
The whole perspective has to be holistic, which means that maybe even other tools than those mentioned in this paper could show to be relevant components.
The cyclic aspect with constant improvements has, however, to be a central component which means that focus and goals are objects that are constantly moving and changing, and people (on all levels in the system) involved in the process should become familiar about this feature.
It is important to be careful in the selection of the (confined) area, which should be most suited for the first pilot projects in green urban management. This is because it requires a clear commitment from the management group and willingness from all involved parties to get engaged in the process of starting the system and keeping it on stream. The preparative work here should not be underestimated and, of course, the successfulness of such a pilot-project is of crucial importance to the following up-scaled projects.
It should be so that the ideas about green urban management in the present rough outline will be able to fulfil the demands from key action 4 mentioned in the introduction of this paper, but naturally the details still remain to be described.
Jan Kaare Oxlund