This research document – Rethinking our built environments: Towards a sustainable future – presents findings from a study of several approaches capable of contributing towards a fully sustainable built environment in New Zealand. It examines the value and opportunities for central government organisations of adopting one or all of them to achieve this goal. This research document:
The format used to structure the study is based on Fisher and Torbert’s collaborative inquiry approach (Fisher and Torbert, 1995), which provided a framework for organising the diverse range of relevant information gathered, particularly the considerable amount of international research and literature.
In the second half of 2007, the Ministry for the Environment (‘the Ministry’) undertook a strategic review of the sustainable building work stream
As part of the review, a number of central government organisations were asked what they would like to see happen with the work stream in the future. The organisations responded with questions: “how far should agencies aim for?”; “what is the end point?”; and “how could the work stream more fully incorporate economic and social sustainability?”
The strategic review led the Ministry to commission this research document to help identify the potential benefits and implications of using strategies such as regenerative development, restorative design, cradle-to-cradle and eco-efficiency to achieve a fully sustainable built environment. This document also looks at the value of taking an integrated approach to developing sustainable built environment.
The strategic review also prompted the adoption of a regenerative approach to development as the long-term aspirational goal of the sustainable building work stream.
The intention of this document is to stimulate discussion and debate about emerging concepts of the built environment, rather than to determine a particular single path towards achieving a sustainable built environment.
The research document is directed primarily towards an audience with a general understanding of sustainability principles.
This study is not a cost-benefit analysis. The value and opportunities associated with the concepts are largely qualitative because there are limited real life examples in New Zealand of the approaches described. Much of the discussion is therefore at a theoretical level. Despite this, it is the opinion of the authors that it is possible to determine potential value and opportunities for New Zealand that would arise with the adoption of concepts for a fully sustainable built environment.