Managing sustainability: Values and frames influences in design decision processes

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

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


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 that occurs in early practitioner-client interactions. By reinterpreting underlying processes in design decision-making for architectural sustainability, key themes and sub-processes can be transparently examined, 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.

These results are expected to have implications for practitioner-stakeholder interaction processes in design professions and design management, highlighting the need for future work triangulating and disseminating.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
EventLHPS Doctoral College Research Student Conference 2015 - Moulsecoomb Campus, University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jul 201521 Jul 2015


ConferenceLHPS Doctoral College Research Student Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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