Sustainable design balances the economic, social, and environmental needs of today with
those of the future. This is not an abstract concept. Examples of very sustainable
developments exist today. If design professionals possess the skills to design sustainable
projects, and the benefits of being sustainable are so clearly accessible, why do
sustainably designed projects remain the exception rather than the norm? Focusing on
affordable multifamily rental housing as a project type, this paper documents the specific
barriers that deter the incorporation of sustainable design in the development process.
Examples of tools that successfully promote sustainable design and recommendations to
further improve the incorporation of sustainable design practices are also included. The
paper begins with a review of existing scholarship citing research from England,
Scotland, and Saudi Arabia. These findings provide a point of reference for the author’s
original research, which was gathered through interviews with well-established nonprofit developers of multifamily affordable housing in Minnesota. Barriers uncovered include:
funding limitations, site and project specific issues, limited data and expertise, regulations
and requirements, relationships/collaborations, sustainable design standards, and issues
unique to Minnesota. Examples of successful tools for promoting sustainable design
include: community involvement, statutory regulations, demonstration projects /
competitions, sustainable design standards, and local expertise and integrated design /
design charrettes. Recommendations from previous scholarship and Minnesota
developers focused on the following: awareness and education, building occupants, research, replicating success, collaboration, and funder opportunities. The author
concludes with five specific recommendations: increase funding, expand education,
support research, promote collaboration, and change the funding process.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2011. Major: Architecture. Advisor:Katherine Solomonson. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 54 pages.
Dolata, Rosemary Dawn.
Addressing the barriers to sustainable design in the process of developing multifamily affordable housing in Minnesota..
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