Human values and problem framing as influential heuristics in sustainable design decision processes

Richard Kulczak-Dawkins, Poorang Piroozfar, Marie K. Harder

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Sustainability in the UK architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is well received. However, many projects only deliver the minimum requirements. Frequently this is at the expense of longer-term sustainability goals and unseen impacts. These trade-offs are not necessarily accounted for. Therefore, managing sustainability becomes a significant challenge as a process-oriented procedure with little attention to broader project impacts or end conditions. To address this recurring shortcoming, one way forward is to re-examine and re-evaluate fundamental sub-processes within sustainability decision processes whilst incorporating long-term effects. Research is currently being undertaken to investigate ‘human values’ and ‘communication frames’ in managing decision processes for sustainability.

The first stage of this on-going research presents the results of interviews carried out to investigate fundamental human interactions and influences that impact sustainability decision processes. 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 heuristics to approach and advance sustainability issues. These ‘indicators’ provided guidance on using situation-appropriate communication frames to achieve particular results. Values engagements and influences, on and in conjunction with problem-frames, structure and guide sustainable design decision processes. Thus, human values and communication frames appear reciprocally influenced and self-reinforced, amounting to structural psychosocial drivers, or barriers, of sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015
EventSSPARC Third Annual Festival of Social Sciences - Falmer Campus, University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 201511 Jun 2015


ConferenceSSPARC Third Annual Festival of Social Sciences
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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