Evolutions in Sustainability and Sustainable Real Estate

  • Sherif Goubran
  • Tristan Masson
  • Margarita Caycedo
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Sustainable Business In Association with Future Earth book series (PSSBAFE)


This chapter presents historical, theoretical and practical background information for the area of sustainable real estate. The chapter takes a multidisciplinary approach and is structured around the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental) with a future outlook. It reviews the rise of the concept of sustainable development, explores the connections between the sustainable development goals and real estate, presents the relations and tensions between real estate and the three pillars of sustainability, discusses current trends and identifies possible future developments. The chapter concludes by presenting a map of the sustainable real estate system.


  1. Apanavičiene, R., Daugeliene, A., Baltramonaitis, T., & Maliene, V. (2015). Sustainability Aspects of Real Estate Development: Lithuanian Case Study of Sports and Entertainment Arenas. Sustainability (Switzerland), 7(6), 6497–6522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arbor, A. (2005). Building Green for the Future: Case Studies of Sustainable Development in Michigan. HandbookMichigan University. Michigan.Google Scholar
  3. Aumann, D., Heschong, L., Wright, R., & Peet, R. (2004). Windows and Classrooms: Student Performance and the Indoor Environment. Proceedings of the 2004 ACEEE Summer Study. 7–1.Google Scholar
  4. Bernstein, H. M., Russo, M. A., Fitch, E., & Laquidara-Carr, D. (Eds.). (2013). World Green Building TrendsBusiness Benefits Driving New and Retrofit Market Opportunities in Over 60 Countries. Bedford, MA: McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics. Retrieved from
  5. Boyko, C. T., Gaterell, M. R., Barber, A. R. G., Brown, J., Bryson, J. R., Butler, D., … Rogers, C. D. F. (2012). Benchmarking Sustainability in Cities: The Role of Indicators and Future Scenarios. Global Environmental Change, 22(1), 245–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brandon, P., & Lombardi, P. (2010). Evaluating Sustainable Development in the Built Environment (2nd ed.). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Bukart, Karl. (2009). How Do You Define the ‘Green’ Economy?. MNNMother Nature Network.Google Scholar
  8. Bulkeley, H. (2012). Cities and Climate Change. London: Routledge. Scholar
  9. Chansomsak, S., & Vale, B. (2008). Can Architecture Really Educate People for Sustainability. In G. Foliente, T. Luetzkendorf, P. Newton, & P. Paevere (Eds.), 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference (SB08). Melbourne.Google Scholar
  10. Clements-Hunt, P., & Gary P. (2007). Responsible Property Investing—What the Leaders Are Doing, UNEP Finance Initiative.Google Scholar
  11. Cucuzzella, C. (2009). The Limits of Current Evaluation Methods in a Context of Sustainable Design: Prudence as a New Framework. IJDE International Journal of Design Engineering, 2(3), 243–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cucuzzella, C. (2011). Why Is Fourth Generation Evaluation Essential for Sustainable Design? Design Principles and Practices, 5(1), 239–251. Retrieved from Scholar
  13. Cucuzzella, C. (2015a). Is Sustainability Reorienting the Visual Expression of Architecture? Revue D’art Canadienne/Canadian Art Review (RACAR): Design Studies in Canada (and beyond), 40, 85–99.Google Scholar
  14. Cucuzzella, C. (2015b). When the Narrative of Environmental Certifications Replaces the Debate on Quality. In Fondation Braillard Architectes (Ed.), Faire des histoires? Du récit d’urbanisme à l’urbanisme fictionnel: faire la ville à l’heure de la société du spectacle (pp. 43–47). Geneve: Fondation Braillard Architectes.Google Scholar
  15. Cucuzzella, C. (2016). Creativity, sustainable design and risk management. Journal of Cleaner Production, 135, 1548–1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Deloitte. (2014). Breakthrough for Sustainability in Commercial Real Estate. (S. Sheth & S. Mahajan, Eds.).Google Scholar
  17. Deshmukh, A. P., Herber, D. R., & Allison, J. T. (2015). Bridging the Gap Between Open-Loop and Closed-Loop Control in Co-Design: A Framework for Complete Optimal Plant and Control Architecture Design*. American Control Conference, 4916–4922.Google Scholar
  18. Ding, G. K. C. (2008). Sustainable Construction—The Role of Environmental Assessment Tools. Journal of Environmental Management, 86(3), 451–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DLA Piper. (2014). Towards a Greener FutureDLA Piper’s Market Report on Sustainable Real Estate.Google Scholar
  20. Ehrenfeld, J. R. (2009). Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy for Transforming Our Consumer Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Eichholtz, P., Kok, N., & Quigley, J. (2010). Doing Well by Doing Good? Green Office Buildings. The American Economic Review, 100(December), 2494–2511.Google Scholar
  22. Eizenberg, E., & Jabareen, Y. (2017). Social Sustainability: A New Conceptual Framework. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. Sustainability, 2017(9), 68.Google Scholar
  23. Fadaei, S., Iulo, L. D., & Yoshida, J. (2015). Architecture: A Missing Piece in Real-estate Studies of Sustainable Houses. Procedia Engineering, 118, 813–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fisher, T. (2008). Architectural Design and Ethics: Tools for Survival. Amsterdam and Boston and London: Elsevier/Architectural Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fletcher, K. T., & Goggin, P. a. (2001). The Dominant Stances on Ecodesign: A Critique. Design Issues, 17(3), 15–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fry, T. (2009). Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics, and New Practice. Oxford, NY: Berg.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. G20. (2017). Hamburg Update: Taking Forward the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from
  28. Gibberd, J. (2014). Measuring Capability for Sustainability: The Built Environment Sustainability Tool (BEST). Building Research & Information, 3218(July 2015), 1–13.Google Scholar
  29. GlobalGiving. (2016). Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Retrieved December 8, 2016, from
  30. Hens, H. (2012). Passive Houses: What May Happen When Energy Efficiency Becomes the Only Paradigm? ASHRAE Transactions, 118(PART 1), 1077–1085.Google Scholar
  31. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007). Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Working Group III Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  33. International Union for the Conservation for Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). (1980). World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation Through Sustainable Development. Accessed July 16, 2017, from
  34. Jabareen, Y. R. (2006). Sustainable Urban Forms Their Typologies, Models, and Concepts. J. Plan. Educ. Res., 2006(26), 38–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jonas, H. (1979). Toward a Philosophy of Technology. The Hastings Center Report, 9(1), 34–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lawrence, M. (2015). Reducing the Environmental Impact of Construction by Using Renewable Materials. Journal of Renewable Materials, 3(3), 163–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. LLNL. (2014). Energy Flow Charts. Retrieved December 11, 2015, from
  38. Lynch, A. J., & Mosbah, S. M. (2017). Improving Local Measures of Sustainability: A Study of Built-Environment Indicators in the United States. Cities, 60, 301–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Madge, P. (2008). Ecological Design: A New Critique. Design Issues, 13(2), 44–54. Retrieved from Scholar
  40. Matisoff, D., Noonan, D., & Flowers, M. (2016). Policy Monitor—Green Buildings: Economics and Policies. Rev Environ Econ Policy (2016), 10(2), 329–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press.Google Scholar
  42. McLennan, J. F. (2004). The Philosophy of Sustainable Design: The Future of Architecture. Kansas City: Ecotone. Retrieved from
  43. Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D. J., Randers, J., & Behrens III, W. W. (1972). Limits to Growth. Accessed July 16, 2017, from
  44. Morrow, D., Read-Brown, A., O’Sullivan, N., & Garz, H. (2015). Real Estate: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back. Sector Report. Sustainalytics. Thematic Research. September.Google Scholar
  45. Naess, A. (1973). The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement. A Summary∗. Inquiry, 16(1–4), 95–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nelson, H. G., & Stolterman, E. (2012). The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World. The Design Way (Vol. 9, 2nd ed.). Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  47. Newsham, G. R., Mancini, S., & Birt, B. J. (2009). Do LEED-certified Buildings Save Energy? Yes, But…. Energy and Buildings, 41(8), 897–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ofori, G. (1992). The Environment: The Fourth Construction Project Objective? Construction Management and Economics.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Orr, D. W. (2006). The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention. Design Issues (Vol. 22).Google Scholar
  50. Papanek, V. (2000). The Tree of Knowledge: Biological Prototypes in Design. In Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change (pp. 186–214). Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Putnik, G. D. (2009). Complexity Framework for Sustainability: An Analysis of Five Papers. The Learning Organization, 16(3), 261–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Qian, Q. K., Chan, E. H. W., Visscher, H., & Lehmann, S. (2015). Modeling the Green Building (GB) Investment Decisions of Developers and End-users with Transaction Costs (TCs) Considerations. Journal of Cleaner Production, 109(0), 315–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rashid, A., Faiz, A., & Yusoff, S. (2015). A Review of Life Cycle Assessment Method for Building Industry. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 45, 244–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Robert, K. W., Parris, T. M., & Leiserowitz, A. A. (2005). What Is Sustainable Development? Goals, Indicators, Values, and Practice. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 47(3), 8–21.Google Scholar
  55. Robinson, J., Burch, S., Talwar, S., O’Shea, M., & Walsh, M. (2011). Envisioning Sustainability: Recent Progress in the Use of Participatory Backcasting Approaches for Sustainability Research. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 78(5), 756–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Durand-Delacre, D., & Teksoz, K. (2017). SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).Google Scholar
  57. Shaw, A., Sheppard, S., Burch, S., Flanders, D., Wiek, A., Carmichael, J., … Cohen, S. (2009). Making Local Futures Tangible-Synthesizing, Downscaling, and Visualizing Climate Change Scenarios for Participatory Capacity Building. Global Environmental Change, 19(4), 447–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sheppard, S. R. J., Shaw, A., Flanders, D., Burch, S., Wiek, A., Carmichael, J., … Cohen, S. (2011). Future Visioning of Local Climate Change: A Framework for Community Engagement and Planning with Scenarios and Visualisation. Futures, 43(4), 400–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sterman, J. (2015). Stumbling Towards Sustainability. In R. Henderson, R. Gulati, & M. Tushman (Eds.), Leading Sustainable Change (pp. 50–80). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sustainable Cities Institute. (2013). Topics of Sustainability. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from
  61. Sustainable Development Solutions Network Thematic Group on Sustainable Cities. (2015). The Urban Opportunity: Enabling Transformative and Sustainable Development. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from
  62. Teo, M. M. M., & Loosemore, M. (2001). A Theory of Waste Behaviour in the Construction Industry. Construction Management and Economics, 19(7), 741–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. The Impact. (2016). Real Assets and Impact Investing: A Primer for Families. May.Google Scholar
  64. U.S. Green Building Council & Booz Allen Hamilton. (2009). Green Jobs Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Green Building Council.Google Scholar
  65. Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery. Science, 224(4647), 420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. United Nations Conference on Environment & Development (UNCED). (1992). Agenda 21. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from
  67. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2011). Buildings: Investing in Energy and Resource Efficiency: Towards a Green Economy. Retrieved July, 2017, from
  68. United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). (2015). Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from
  69. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). (2017). Urbanization Overview. Retrieved July, 2017, from
  70. Walker, S. (2006). Sustainable by Design: Exploration in Theory and Practice. London: Earthscan publications. Retrieved from
  71. Wilbanks, T. J. (2007). Scale and Sustainability. Climate Policy, 7(4), 278–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Willmott Dixon. (2010). Briefing Note 33: The Impacts of Construction and the Built Environment.Google Scholar
  73. World Bank. (2016). Poverty Overview. Retrieved July, 2017, from
  74. World Economic Forum. (2016). Environmental Sustainability Principles for the Real Estate Industry. Cologny/Geneva. World Economic Forum (2016). The World Is About to See an Unprecedented Demographic Shift. Retrieved July 2017, from
  75. World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). (2002). Plan of Implementation. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sherif Goubran
    • 1
  • Tristan Masson
    • 1
  • Margarita Caycedo
    • 1
  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations