Trends in sustainable architectural design in the United Kingdom: A Delphi study

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Despite the prevalence of sustainable and green building the UK there is little agreement on what is required to achieve this status. This research seeks consensus among expert sustainable architects in the UK on the relative importance of a range of factors in facilitating a sustainable built environment. It identifies key differentiating factors to provide an original typology of sustainable practice. A Delphi technique was used to engage a variety of geographically separated participant in a managed dialogue to achieve consensus. The technique used novel survey techniques and statistical analysis to create a series of parallel sample groups. Thirty practices took part in the study, forming three distinct groups differentiated by contrasting viewpoints. Individual groups were characterised by varying attitudes towards measurability, nature, user-focus and local issues. However, the research found that carbon reduction through fabric first approaches were universally prioritised by all groups to achieve sustainable design. This highlights the limited scope of sustainable design in the UK, and a tendency to favour global sustainability concerns over more local and regional challenges. This research has significance for professional organisations and policy makers who can shape practice, both in the UK and internationally. It also has consequences for architectural education as it emphasises the perceived relative importance of these factors in the creation of the built environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-896
Number of pages17
JournalSustainable Development
Issue number4
Early online date11 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2020


  • Delphi technique
  • sustainable development
  • green architecture
  • design practice
  • sustainable practitioners


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