Contributing with voluntary certification systems a case-study evaluating knowledge gaps between design professionals and the Well Building Standard
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This research draws its assumptions from a number of complex issues around sustainability discussions and voluntary standards as the most known influence to achieve the materialization of sustainability strategies in our built environment. In the United States, green building certifications are tools used voluntarily to take into account different frameworks and scales that deal with various aspects of sustainable design. In fact, before such standards were introduced in 1990’s, sustainable practices had no common definition or explicit guidance in the built environment. Today, despite voluntary standards reaching industry-wide adoption among practitioners in the design industry, real state, and society, these certifications still struggle to shape standards that are representative, comprehensive, and reliable. Most specifically, this study seeks to understand the gaps between explicit codes and the knowledge held by certain groups and frameworks found in such standards. The relevance of this analysis lays on the fact that the extent of such gaps between the system and the user could hurt the application and thus the impact of such tools. Under a constructivist framework, this research utilizes the Well Building Standard as a case study to analyze the characteristics of these gaps, by conducting a survey that engaged with more than ninety design professionals throughout the United States. The intention is to reveal the extent of these gaps, as well as its causes in order to provide a more representative standard for future users. Ultimately, this investigation also pairs essential findings in the case study with voluntary standards in order to draw bigger arguments. Therefore, the findings address two scopes in order to make recommendations: the scope of the Well Building Standard specifically, and the scope of voluntary building standards. In all, the results from the survey confirms the existence of a gap within the knowledge in practice and the consensus explicit in codes. This study makes recommendations for The Well Building Standard decision-making board, and for voluntary standard systems on how to better serve the concerns in the practice of design.
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