Systematic review

Economic sustainability assessment of residential buildings: A dedicated assessment framework and implications for BIM

1 Apr 2018


Tools for economic sustainability analyses are crucial for residential sector which is associated with high energy use. Along with the development of such tools, their effective implementation in building projects depend on their uptake by holistic design and modelling approaches, with BIM standing out as an exemplary case. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to develop a fully representative economic sustainability assessment framework for residential buildings, with implications for BIM. A serious lag in research within the area of residential building economic sustainability assessment and use of BIM is realized from a systematic review of published studies. Through literature, a taxonomy of economic sustainability indicators, parameters and sub- parameters is developed, which helped design an economic sustainability assessment framework. An international survey and structured interviews are conducted to find the importance weights for the economic sus- tainability dimension as well as different framework constituents. The functionality of framework is validated through a case study, providing a conclusive value of 48.25% for economic performance of subject building, which is representative of the effectiveness of assessment for decision-makings. An extension within BIM environment is suggested to help foresee a futuristic integration of BIM with economic sustainability assessment.

Synthesis method: qualitative literature review (additional framework development using mixed methods)

Conclusions: (for systematic review part of project) 

A positive business case for sustainable residential buildings, and sustainable technologies and components can emerge in a variety of ways as found from the reviewed studies shown in Table 1. For instance;

Winning business: A developer may be able to increase overall profit if social responsibility and green corporate branding are smartly used to win more business and achieve greater economies of scale (Kitzmueller & Shimshack, 2012).

Project features and components: Smart design such as passive solar features, fitting the house with the prevailing views and using local materials may add to the financial value of sustainable houses and result in price premiums (Fadaei et al., 2015). The application of LCCA on featured sustainable systems has discovered that con- sumers can pay off their upfront investment in state-of-the-art en- ergy efficient systems and appliances and earn a profit within the stated life time (Kim et al., 2015).

Overall project case: For a green apartment building, cost recovery period can be as short as 10 years, with as much as 8% operating profit (Park et al., 2014).

Although the studies relating the BIM-oriented framework devel- opment are a big step forward in terms of economic sustainability in- corporation in design and decision-making process, they had certain limitations in their contribution as they were almost entirely oriented towards developing BIM for sustainability assessments, and did no substantial contribution to the development of a holistic economic sustainability assessment tool or framework.

Screening criteria:

The retrieved papers were subjected to three rounds of scrutiny and at the end of each round, the number of publications was narrowed down. In the first round, the duplication of search results was removed since some publications are mutually in- dexed by both databases. In the second round, the abstract, introduction, and conclusion sections of each paper were studied to shortlist the papers generally related to the topics. In the third round, a thorough qualitative review of the particularly relevant publications was per- formed. 25 journal articles selected. 

Search source: Scopus, Web of Science

Search keywords: Topic 1: Sustainable residential buildings and LCC (("green building" OR "sustainable building" OR "green component") AND ("life cycle cost" OR "LCC" OR "LCCA" OR "life cycle cost assessment" OR "economic sustainablility") AND ("residential" OR "housing")). Topic 2: Sustainable buildings, LCC and BIM (("green building" OR "sustainable building") AND ("life cycle cost" OR "LCC" OR "LCCA" OR "life cycle cost assessment" OR "economic sustainability") AND ("BIM")). 

Funding source: not recorded

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