Including local actors' perspective in neighborhood sustainability assessment: evidence from Dubai's sustainable city

Nermin Dessouky, Stephen Wheeler, Ashraf Salama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Existing Neighborhood Sustainability Assessment (NSA) tools such as “Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design - Neighborhood Development” (LEED-ND) and “Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method” (BREEAM Communities) are widely criticized for a lack of transparency in the selection of indicators and an unbalanced focus on specific sustainability dimensions.

This paper asks how the expectations and use values of the professionals and residents involved in developing, designing, managing and living in a sustainable neighborhood can shape sustainability indicators that affect progress towards project goals. Taking as its focus The Sustainable City (TSC), a neighborhood in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the paper develops data from in-depth, go-along interviews with 46 different actors.

Findings indicate that when given the opportunity to express their opinion, many actors will prioritize metrics different than the metrics dictated to the by sustainability experts and international rating systems. The findings suggest that NSA tools should place greater emphasis on local factors, public engagement and operational concerns.

Practical implications
The paper provides a method that any community can replicate to better understand the different use values of local actors and establish its own NSA tool. This can help experts learn how design, management and operational decisions interact to impact different dimensions of performance.

This paper recognizes sustainable neighborhoods as spaces with multiple identities. Hence, the indicators used to evaluate these neighborhoods need to be based on the expectations and use values of different actors. This paper proposes using the priorities of different local actors to reshape how these neighborhoods are assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
Early online date15 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2023

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