Neighborhood Sustainability Assessment Tools and Water System Adaptation: a Framework to Analyse the Adaptive Capacity in the Physical–Social Context

Neighborhood Sustainability Assessment Tools and Water System Adaptation: a Framework to Analyse the Adaptive Capacity in the Physical–Social Context

S. Naji J. Gwilliam 

Welsh School of Architecture Cardiff University, UK

01 November 2016
| Citation



The relationship between climate change and sustainable development has rarely been studied, particularly in the context of the built environment development assessment tools and adaptation to both short- and long-term climate change impacts. This research attempts to present a framework to investigate the capacity of three neighborhood sustainability assessment (NSA) tools to enable adaptation to climate change impacts, which are defined here in relation to both physical and social contexts. There are two sets of components that create the structure for the systematic framework. First, the need to address both short-term and long-term impact scenarios, in particular, temperature and precipitation, when analyzing the water sector. It is argued that the adaptive capacity should consider the supply, consumption, and disposal as physical characteristics, and governance and management as social characteristics. To operate this analysis framework the analysis, we argue secondly that both resilience and vulnerability are valuable in analysis of the adaptive capacity in order to identify points of adaptation and exposure. Finally, the resulting analytical framework is applied to three example NSAs, BREEAM COMMUNITIES, LEED-ND, and CASBEE-UD and compares their capacity to enable adaptive capacity. The paper concludes that the three tools have a higher capacity in adapting the physical components to the climate change impacts, than the social, where the latter have shown a noticeable vulnerability in covering issues such as stakeholders’ governance, local community participation, and community management, despite the importance of such factors in addressing adaptive capacity to climate change, resulting from both short- and long-term risk scenarios.


adaptive capacity, climate change, framework, NSAs, physical-social


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