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ISM White Paper

NEW!

Integrated Sustainability Management:
A Systems Approach for High-Performing Buildings

In the past 15 years, the green building movement has made great strides to reduce the impact of the built environment on consumption and carbon emissions. In fact, 20% of new construction projects in the U.S. were estimated to be green buildings in 2015. However, there remain gaps in both knowledge and practice. Many designed-to-be-green buildings fail to live up to their potential for reduced energy consumption, lowered greenhouse gas emissions, and improved occupant wellbeing. Why do green buildings often fall short of their designed performance? We propose that the root cause is because organizations are not utilizing a systems approach to sustainability. The organization that inhabits a building does not share the values embedded in the building’s design. Once a building comes online, it is enveloped in the larger system; the dominant purpose (culture, paradigm, etc.) of that system takes hold and trumps the original design intent.

The integrated sustainability management (ISM) framework provides a model and toolbox to support systems thinking in buildings. The ISM model contains four distinct elements, or quadrants: Organizational Culture, Occupant Behavior, Operations, and Facility Design. The ISM application toolbox provides step-by-step guidance on how to use the ISM model to map, measure, understand, and improve the systems dynamics at play within a green building.

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  Publications

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The Integrative Design Process (IDP) has the potential to radically change the way that decisions are made in building design and construction and improve project success and efficacy. However, integr...

Whole School Sustainability2014 | Whole School Sustainability Framework »

Based on years of research by the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University, The Whole-School Sustainability Framework illustrates how every school can establish the conditions ...

LENSES Application Guide2016 | LENSES Overview Guide »

The LENSES (Living Environments in Natural, Social, and Economic Systems) Overview Guide outlines an actionable approach to using the LENSES Framework. It provides the tools and resources you need to ...

gbs2010 | Greening Structural Steel Design, Fabrication and Erection: A Case Study of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Research Support Facilities Project »

This study seeks to identify and evaluate opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts of structural steel through case study research of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Researc...

lenses2011 | LENSES: Vision Book »

The world is waking up. In the face of imminent threats to our quality of life and our planet, humanity is beginning to change. We are moving away from means and methods that deplete our resources, de...

leed 2011 | LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan »

The Colorado Governor's Energy Office (GEO) released a request for proposals to fund a feasibility analysis phase of the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance process on university cam...

gstt2011 | Green Schools That Teach: A Research White Paper »

The combination of green school design, green organizational behavior, and aligned educational goals sets the stage for the features of green schools to become teaching tools. Five LEED certified gree...

SteelGreening Structural Steel Design, Fabrication and Erection: A Case Study of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Research Support Facilities Project »

Using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Research Support Facility (RSF) in Golden, Colorado as a basis for study, this research identifies opportunities for reducing environmental impa...