Sustainable Buildings: Applying Prevention Through Design
- Mohammed Albattah (University of Colorado) | Marielle Roucheray (University of Colorado) | Matthew Hallowell (University of Colorado)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- June 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 76 - 80
- 2013. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 38 since 2007
- Show more detail
Construction accounts for more fatal in-juries than any other industry (BLS, 2011). Improving construction worker safety and health is a critical societal concern, involving owners, designers, contractors and subcontractors. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that the work processes required to construct emerging sustainable building components involve in-creased exposure to high risk work (Fortunato, Hallowell, Behm, et al., 2012; Dewlaney, Hallowell & Fortunato, 2012). As the trend of building green continues, SH&E professionals must identify the specific hazards associated with sustainable design elements and develop design interventions that reduce worker exposure.
Sustainable building is an accelerating trend in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. The most recognized green building initiative is the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED is a certification system that evaluates the potential environmental performance of a building over its life cycle (USGBC, 2011).
The LEED certification program was first implemented in 1998 and has since grown to encompass more than 25,000 commercial projects and 1.6 billion sq. ft of developed space (USGBC). LEED for New Construction is the latest and most commonly used version of the certification. It has almost 55 credits with 110 possible points. Because LEED is a design-related issue, the most effective means to integrate occupational safety with this certification system is via prevention through design (PTD).
PTD is especially effective in mitigating safety risk early in the development of a project (Behm, 2005). Also known as design for construction safety, PTD is the deliberate consideration of construction worker safety and health in the design of the permanent features of a project (Gambatese, Behm & Hinze, 2005). PTD relies on the underlying concept that a portion of safety risks can be removed during de-sign by altering a building’s features so that they are safer to construct and maintain (Safer Design, 2011). Natural synergies exist between sustainable building design and PTD when one considers that a building is not truly sustainable if workers are injured or killed during its development or maintenance.
This article describes 1) recent research that identifies specific exposures to hazards connected to sustainable building components, the magnitudes of their impacts and the methods of risk mitigation; 2) a web-based tool that organizes this information into a single decision support system; and 3) the results of pilot testing this tool on active projects with experienced professionals.
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