An intergrated assessment tool for the development of green low-cost houses in Zambia.

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Sichali, Mutinta Mwape
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The University of Zambia
Green building tools (GBTs), used for planning and assessing the impact of structures on the environment, are developed in consonance with user needs. To attain green low-cost houses, consideration of the three arms of sustainability, i.e., environmental, economic, and social factors should be included. The aim of the study was to investigate the knowledge and utilization of GBTs among the professions in the building industry and to explore the experience of the respondents in applying green strategies in their housing projects. The study identified factors associated with the development of green low-cost houses and suitable criteria for assessing them. The results of the study were used to develop a green building planning and assessment tool for low-cost houses. An integration of criteria in selected tools, parameters in the Sustainability Development Goal 11 and the Sustainability Housing Guidelines were incorporated in the tool. The pragmatic paradigm approach was adopted and epistemologically the research was both subjective and objective in nature. This permitted the use of a mixed method design. An exploratory sequential mixed method approach was adopted. The data was collected using a questionnaire survey and interviews. The results of the study revealed that utilization of GBTs was low, and the knowledge of green buildings varied across the study population with architects having the highest knowledge. The factors that were associated with the use of GBTs were years of experience, the cost of assessment, environmental benefits, lack of technical knowledge, the availability of laws and regulations and tax reduction on green buildings and materials. Environmental criteria were preferred over social or economic factors and these included energy use, materials and health and well-being. The study findings showed that some of the criteria in GBTs were inappropriate for the Zambian building industry, and the expense of certifying structures made the tools unaffordable. The developed tool was made up of 8 components: environmental; social; economic; educational; management; regional priority; community participation and innovation. It had 10 assessment criteria and 16 different planning, design and material solutions integrated into a computer-generated program. The tool was evaluated by experts and recommended for use in updating the current National Housing Policy and architects’ practice manuals. It can also be used for dissemination of green building knowledge to developers, communities, and local planning authorities. Keywords: Rating Tools, Green Tools, Criteria, Sustainability.
Building construction. , Green building tools--Knowledge of. , Sustainable architecture. , Ecological houses.