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Managing sustainability through decision processes: the influence of values and frames–2015 RICS Award, Best Sustainability Paper

Conference Paper: Managing sustainability through decision processes: the influence of values and frames–2015 RICS Award, Best Sustainability Paper

By Richard Perry Kulczak, Poorang Piroozfar, Marie K. Harder

ARCOM 31st Annual Conference, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK; 09/2015


Delivering projects to minimum requirements in the UK construction industry can come at the expense of longer-term sustainability goals and unseen impacts. Without measurement, such trade-offs often remain unaccounted for. Therefore, managing sustainability becomes a significant challenge, with subsequent downgrading to a ‘box-ticking’ exercise—itself a process-orientated procedure with little attention to broader project impacts or end conditions. A more direct and holistic approach to understanding and later influencing sustainability in design decision making is to research the values and problem framing which occurs in early practitioner-client interactions. By reinterpreting underlying processes in human decision-making for architectural sustainability, key themes and sub-processes can be transparently examined, thus facilitating their engagement and enabling. Early findings suggest that reciprocal influences of human values and decision-problem framing play a fundamental role in shaping sustainability decision processes. Explicitly and implicitly, practitioners appear to gather and evaluate interpersonal and values-orientated information, on which they base assessments of a client, their position on sustainability, and its flexibility. Such intuitive analyses provide practitioners with beneficial psychosocial heuristics to approach and advance sustainability issues. These ‘indicators’ provided guidance on using situation-appropriate communication frames to achieve particular results. Thus, values engagements and influences, on and in conjunction with problem-frames, structure and guide sustainable design decision processes. Values and communication frames appear reciprocally influenced and self-reinforced, amounting to structural psychosocial drivers, or barriers, of sustainability.


decision-making, frames, human values, stakeholder engagement, sustainability management

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This entry was posted on 13 September 2015 by in Environmental Sustainability.


Part of the Problem? or Part of the Solution?

Rampant consumerism.
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