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Towards a Sustainable Church : an Exploratory Research into the Sustainability Performance of Church Buildings in Apeldoorn

Breuning, A.A. (2017) Towards a Sustainable Church : an Exploratory Research into the Sustainability Performance of Church Buildings in Apeldoorn.

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Abstract:Could believing in sustainability lead to sustainable belief? Religious communities in the Netherlands are dealing with the effects of societal change. Due to a decline in active church members, there is a decrease in income, while the costs stay the same or rise. Solution strategies focus on improving the occupancy rate of the building through multifunctional use or finding alternative housing, taking the current church building out of service. Simultaneously there is a movement of religious communities that focus on sustainability and improving the sustainability performance of their building. The turn towards to sustainability has two motivations, on the on hand there is a sense of duty from religious conviction, on the other hand, sustainability is a way to alleviate the pressure from the operating costs. The Triple Bottom Line is the framework for sustainability in churches. Still, a common approach or method for sustainability projects is not available, as well to indicate how sustainable a church building is. The goal of this research project is to develop a method or tool that makes it possible to measure the sustainability of a church building, which will aid religious communities in their quest to a more sustainable church. Which has lead to the following main research question: ‘How can the sustainability performance of churches in religious use be assessed and be improved?’ Three sub-questions and their answers support the answering of the main question. The first sub-question is: ‘How to assess the sustainability performance of churches?’ Answered by doing a broad literature study. The theoretical background presents general theories on sustainability and sustainable building. As well as, their link to church buildings and an overview of recent publications on church buildings. The results, specified to church buildings, form the basis for the framework of six maturity levels. A list of 55 yes or no statements determines the maturity level. The use of a bar chart to display the results makes scores per level visible and provides insight into the improvements. Conditions for passing a level are passing the previous level and obtaining at least half of the score in the level. The second sub-question is: ‘What is the sustainability performance of churches in Apeldoorn?’ Answered by testing the developed framework. The results of the framework and the prior knowledge from interviews showed some discrepancies, indicating a validity problem. As well as some issue coming from the ‘Werkgroep Duurzaamheid’, the users of the framework. Adding mandatory requirements and reviewing the statements on clarity and function leads to an improved sustainability assessment framework. The third sub-question is: ‘How could the sustainability performance play a role in the transformation of churches?’ Answered by looking at a broader application of the framework. Solution strategies for dealing with the societal change do not include sustainability measures, even though they could have potential. This research project proposes a joint approach including sustainability. The framework of maturity levels for the sustainability performance of church buildings could offer insight into the current level and improvements. It stays difficult to assess the true potential of sustainability as a strategy for the mitigation of risks is uncertain. As a single approach sustainability stays risky, without better knowledge and insight into the effects measures will have. These uncertainties do not mean there is no potential as a preventive measure or in combination with other approached. One could argue that sustainability should be an approach to bring it to the attention religious communities on the possibilities, keeping in mind the restrictions. The study defined a sustainable church on distinct levels; a means to assess this level and application options for the framework. This answers the main question the maturity levels assess the current level and provide insight into the improvement required for other levels. The current improved sustainability assessment framework requires testing on independent cases, to ensure the validity. After which there are several option for further research. Focused on the framework, research can consider correlations between quantified parameters and the maturity levels. Another option is broadening the topics of the framework, including all efforts from the religious communities. Finally, there is the direction of the role of sustainability in the spectrum of transformation processes and the proposed applicable model. Validation of the applicable model is a research topic. As well as, further defining the potential role of sustainability in this model.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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